The Mysterious Skeleton Lake of India – Roopkund

There are many historical and mysterious places in India which attract tourists by their ancient stories and religious beliefs. Your search doesn’t stop until you find that one destination which is extraordinary and has a fascinating chronicle which gives you chills. One such place is the Lake Roopkund also known as “Skeleton Lake” located in Northern India above in the Himalayas in the Chamoli district of Uttarakhand. The lake is more than 16,000 feet i.e. (4,900 meters) above sea level which according to the reports is about half as high as Mount Everest.

Controversial History

The lake has gained popularity as it features frozen surface, encircled rocky glaciers along with a large number of human skeletons. About 77 years ago in the year 1942, it was first discovered by a British forest guard at Nanda Devi national park.  The tale of this lake reveals the horrifying deaths of more than 300 people who died mysteriously with their skeletons lying around the lake for years. Apart from people, belongings such as jewelry/ornaments, an iron rod, and wooden artifacts, along with clothes were also recovered from the lake.

Skeleton lake of India - Roopkund

Scientists, anthropologists, and historians tried to solve the mystery by investigating what happened, who were these people, where they were from, and the exact cause of their death. The initial assumption was that the remains of the bodies belong to a group of Japanese soldiers who vanished in the Himalayas during the battle of Tibet in 1841. Later, as per the latest research revealed that the skeletons were of pilgrims, locals and it dated back to the 9th-century Indian tribe. It was also assumed that a ritual suicide, enemy attack, avalanche, or a sudden disease can be the reason of these brutal deaths. However, the investigation revealed something else and it was unimaginable.

Mystery Resolved

According to research, it was finally revealed that these people were killed by a fatal natural calamity referring as a hailstorm. The injuries found on the skeletons/remains indicated that each individual was killed by the violent hailstorm leaving one or more round shaped blows on the head, neck, and shoulders. These similar deep cracks on the skeletons helped the scientists to figure out the cause of death of these people. The research also revealed that the corpses were from two groups – The one group was of a family and the other group was of natives.

Roopkund - The Skeleton Lake of India

The lake remains frozen during the entire year except for one month during summer when the lake itself reveals its true nature. The frozen ice begins to melt away because of the increase in the temperature and the bottom of this lake becomes visible to everyone. Bones and skeletons of human beings can be seen clearly at the bottom of the shallow lake.  Since it was a frozen temperature during the time of research, the flesh wasn’t fully decomposed. Some traces were still attached to a dozen bodies, which were preserved by the ice and windy conditions. 

Unique places to explore in India

Today, this mystery lake turned Roopkund which is encircled by hundreds of skeletons that attract thousands of visitors and trekkers each year. Interestingly, the trek which directs you to the lake also intersects with the famous Nanda Devi temple thus making your experience of traveling and trekking; a mix of culture and adventure. Many locals and pilgrims visit to participate in the Nanda Devi Raj Jat festival that takes place once in every twelve years at Roopkund, in which Goddess Nanda is worshipped. It was also reported that there are no as such roads which lead to this place yet, so the visitor has to undertake a 2-3 day trek to reach the skeleton lake which starts from Gwaldum in Chamoli district. 

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