Nestled in the lap of the Himalayan mountain ranges, embellished with treasures like rivers, glaciers, forests, snow-clad mountains, and lakes, this is the ‘Land of Gods’, this is Uttarakhand! The state finds its mention amongst the most treasured holiday places in India and one of the most enigmatic and exquisite treasures from this mystical land is the ‘Roopkund Lake’ which is popularly known as ‘Mystery Lake’ or ‘Skeleton Lake’. Wondering why? Read till the end!
The thing that makes this glacial lake ‘a thing of beauty’ and ‘center of attraction’ for tourists from across the world is that it remains frozen throughout the year but when it melts, one can witness human bones and skulls floating on its surface! Yes, you read it right, skeletons and skulls! If a shiver runs up your spine and you wish to explore the lake in its entirety then come let’s dive straight into this lake and unravel the mysteries deposited in its depths!
Set amidst magnificent mountains and snow-clad landscape, this lake is a weird yet fascinating and one of the most visited travel destinations in Uttarakhand. As per the government sources, the lake is situated in the Himalayan range at an altitude of 5,029 meters and is approximately 16,499 feet above the sea level. Roopkund is a 2 meters deep and 130 feet wide, shallow lake that has its edges covered with snow for most time of the year. It has been documented that the skeletons were discovered by a British Forest Guard in 1942. Since then many expeditions and studies have been conducted to unravel the source of those hundreds of skeletons.
Even today, many myths and folk stories manage to attract the tourists towards this enigmatic yet spectacular Skeleton Lake of Uttarakhand. Some people suggest that the skeletons were of Japanese soldiers who during World War 2 tried to cross the lake, whereas, some foresee a mythological connection behind these floating bones and skulls. According to some other popular folk stories, these skeletons were of the pilgrims who attempted to cross the lake to attend an event called Goddess Nanda Devi Raj Jat Yatra that used to happen once in 12 years. Even today, the locals of this region worship Goddess Nanda Devi.
According to another story related to Goddess Nanda Devi Raj Jat Yatra, once there went a royal procession with dancing girls to this auspicious yatra. Locals believe that Goddess Nanda Devi was enraged by this act and punished them with the ‘iron balls’ that hit the royal procession from the sky.
Legends also have it that Kashmir’s General, Zorawar Singh along with his men went to capture Tibet in 1841, but lost their way in the great Himalayas and eventually their lives along the Roopkund Lake. In this regard, the Radiocarbon dating of the bones rule out the relevancy and possibility of this story because the tests indicate that the bones and skulls belong to the bygone era.
The results of many archaeological explorations reveal that the skeletons belong to an Indian tribe of approximately 800 people that lived in this geographical region between 800 and 850 A.D. The detailed assessment of the bones and skulls indicate a natural calamity like a hailstorm of heavy intensity which caused a huge loss of life in a single event. What strengthens this possibility are the claims that only the skulls have been found damaged at the back by a hard-round shaped object which must have hit them from a great height and with high speed. All this leads to only one possibility i.e. hailstorm.
According to some other theories and researches, these skeletons are believed to be of a different set of people belonging to a different timeline and varied geographical locations namely South Asia, East Asia, and the Mediterranean. Reports suggest that the skeletons having the genetic traces of South Asian tribes belonged to the timeline between the 7th and 10th Centuries, while the East Asian and Mediterranean genetic traces carrying skeletons belonged to another timeline.
Even after many detailed studies and expeditions, the mystery behind these skeletons is still unresolved and tangled! This only leaves you with the option to visit the place, experience the uncanny calm of the lake, admire the beauty around, and come back with your theory about what would have happened and how!
While all the myths and studies try to fall in place and align in harmony, you can simply relish the beauty of this finest landscape that comprises the gigantic Himalayas, snow-headed mountains, vast blue sky, and the bone-chilling breeze that surrounds the Mystery Lake!
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