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.