” The world is a book, those who do not travel read only one page. “
Uttrakhand !! The state of scenic beauty and majestic pilgrims. Here, nature hides the history of mankind in its zone and not everyone gets the chance to see what nature is hiding behind her magnificent beauty. If you think mistifying glacial lakes shows only beautiful fishes and mesmerizing snow around it, you are wrong! Roopkund Lake in Uttrakhand has more than 400 human skeletons in it. When the ice melts from Himalayan hills, these bones floats over the lake and some get accumulated around edges of the lakes. Roopkund lake lies in the lap of Trishul massif and it is surrounded by rock-strewn glaciers and snow-clad mountains. This lake is popularly known as ” Skeleton Lake “. The icy water preserved the bodies of dead ones for hundreds of years. Some of them even had hair and nails as well as pieces of clothing intact.
Who discovered ” the lake of skeletons “?
In 1942 a British forest guard in Roopkund, India made an alarming discovery. Some 16,000 feet above sea level, at the bottom of a small valley, was a frozen lake absolutely full of skeletons. That summer, the ice melting revealed, even more, skeletal remains, floating in the water and lying haphazardly around the lake’s edges. The biggest question was what happened here? and who were the people who died here? what was the reason the behind the mass death? whether it was an accident or a mass suicide? All these questions gave birth to the curiosity in the mind of many people and organizations to know more about this place.
Stories behind the Roopkund lake……
King of Kanauj, Raja Jasdhawal
According to the locals residing in neighboring villages. Once upon a time, the King of Kanauj, Raja Jasdhawal started off on a pilgrimage tour of Nanda Devi. He wanted to seek blessings of Nanda Devi. As he was about to be blessed by the birth of a child. He was taking a noisy troupe which was the group of their servants, a dance troupe and others and his pregnant wife. The local priests warned him against the noisy troupe to the site but he paid no attention.
Thus, Goddess Nanda Devi got angry by the gaudy show of festivity and slew them off. The King, his wife along with their yet to be born child were killed on the trek, with their whole entourage. The group faced a storm with large hailstones, from which the entire party perished near Roopkund Lake. One can see bangles and other ornaments that have been found near the remains. Due to many paranormal activities occurring very often here, people started living away from Roopkund lake. People also believe that the souls are trapped in the lake forever.
General Zorawar Singh of Kashmir
When the lake was discovered in 1942 by a reserve ranger. It was speculated that the remains were of the Japanese soldiers who entered this area and perished into the lake due to a hailstorm. Since it was during the time of World War II, the British were curious to know what exactly happened. So, they sent a team of investigators to explore the place in order to find some clues of the secret enemy move. However, it was discovered that the corpses could not belong to Japanese soldiers as they were not fresh.
After getting this news, some British scholars suggested that the bones belonged to General Zorawar Singh of Kashmir and his men. They lost their way and perished in the high Himalayas when they were returning after the Battle of Tibet in 1841.
According to National Geographic magazine
When a team from National Geographic magazine took out 30 skeletons from the lake. They observed that the flesh was still attached to some of them. Two geneticists, Niraj Rai and Manvendra Singh at the Center for Cellular and Molecular Biology at Hyderabad, conducted DNA tests on a hundred samples from the lake. They compared them to the current Indian population. As a result, they found that 70 percent of them had an affinity with Iran. While the remaining belonged to the local population. It was thought that Iran group took the help of local porters to seek new land for settlement.
When radioactive tests were performed on the corpses, it was indicated that the skeletons could date back to any time between the 12th and 15th centuries. As a result, many historians linked the corpses to an unsuccessful attack by Mohammad Tughlak on the Garhwal Himalaya.
In 2004, when a team of European and Indian scientists came together on behalf of the National Geographic channel. They found the horrifying truth and then the mystery started coming to light. DNA tests were conducted which placed the dead bodies into two categories, a group of short people (probably local porters). A taller group who were closely related—with DNA mutations characteristic for Konkanastha Brahmins from Maharashtra. When skeletons were studied, it was revealed a common cause of death. It blows to the back of the head, caused by round objects falling from above. It was concluded that the victims had been caught in a sudden hailstorm. Their skulls were cracked due to furious hailstorm which banged their head.
Along with the skeleton lake, the Rookund offers the best location for trekking. There are many routes for a trek to Roopkund to mesmerize you. And offer you the adventure to the brim of the cup. One of the most common routes taken by travelers and adventurers is through Lohajung up to where you can travel by road. Trekking begins after this point. The twin meadows of Ali Bugyal and Bedni Bugyal are the largest high altitude meadows in our country.
On your trek, you are going to be in the meadows for two and a half days – a fact that is missed by most. Two and a half days spent in meadows is a lot of time and unique to any trek in our country. Each of those hours spent in the Meadows is going to be a treasured moment of your life for many years to come. You must go and try the adventurous trek at Roopkund and the mysterious lake.
How to Reach Roopkund?
Kathgodam to Ranikhet to Garur to Gwaldam to Debal (1220 m) to Bagrigad (1890 m). Then from Mundoli village to Lohajung pass to Wan village (2590 m) to Bedni Bugyal (3660 m) to Baghubasa to Kalu Vinayak to Roopkund.
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