What do you expect to see when the glacial ice melts at 5000 meters above sea level? Probably some stocked water, a small lake or a water stream and some fish fossils etc. How about spotting more than 500 human skeletons? Yes, that’s the mystery of Roopkund Lake situated in Uttarakhand state of India. It is located in uninhabited high mountain region of Chamoli district of Uttarakhanduttr. HK Madhwal who was then a Nanda Devi Game Reserve ranger discovered the floating skeletons at Roopkund in 1942. Reports said that these bones were from late 19th century but the carbon dating samples collected from skeletons in 1960 revealed that these people were from 12th – 15th century. The cause of this mass death is assumed to be a massive landslide or blizzard.
The Indian and European scientists carried out an exploration project in 2004 and found more information about these skeletons. They found jewelry, skulls, bones and preserved body tissues, which were of great importance. The DNA test revealed that there were mainly two groups of people. One marked by the shorter stature of the skeletons while the other is significantly taller people who were closely related to Kokanastha Brahmins of Maharashtra (as suggested DNA Mutations). Some British explorers to Roopkund and many scholars attribute the bones to General Zorawar Singh of Kashmir, and his men, who are said to have lost their way and perished in the high Himalayas on their return journey after the Battle of Tibet in 1841. Later it was found that these skeletons belonged to 12th – 15th century. The exact whereabouts of these skeletons is still a mystery. Many historians linked the corpses to an unsuccessful attack by Mohammad Tughlak on the Garhwal Himalaya. Still others believed that the remains were of those of victims of an unknown epidemic. Some anthropologists also put forward a theory of ritual suicide.
Otherwise, Roopkund is one of the most beautiful and picturesque tourist destinations in Himalayan kingdom. It is located near two popular Himalayan Peaks namely Trishul which is 7120 m high and the other is Nandghungti which is 6310 meter high. It is rerouting to one of the popular pilgrim site in Uttarakhand named Nanda Devi. The skeleton lake is covered with ice for most of the year. However, a journey to Roopkund is a breathtaking experience everybody should have atleast once.
How to Reach Roopkund
There are different routes for a trek to Roopkund. However, most of the trekkers and adventure travelers travel to Lohajung or Wan by road. From there they reach Ran ki dhar by climbing a hillock at Wan. So, the way is Kathgodam – Ranikhet – Garur- Gwaldam – Debal (1220 m) – Bagrigad (1890 m) – Mundoli village – Lohajung pass – Wan village (2590 m) – Bedni Bugyal (3660 m) – Baghubasa – Kalu Vinayak – Roopkund
Roopkund’s skeletons were featured in a National Geographic documentary “Riddles Of The Dead: Skeleton Lake”.