Roopkund Lake – The Mysterious Lake of Skeletons

One can see hundreds of corpses floating in the Roopkund Lake when the ice in this lake melts. With this scene, comes the mystery of the lake. Roopkund Lake locally known as the Mystery Lake is located in Himalaya at an altitude of about 5,029 meters in Chamoli district of Uttarakhand state. There are hundreds of corpses (300-600 in number) that can be seen in this shallow lake. Their presence there is a mystery. Scientists are trying to find the answer whereas local people believe in the folklore.

Since 1942, the year when a forest guard had seen these skeletons by chance, this place has interested scientists, historians, anthropologists from all around the world and even local people. Earlier, it was believed that the corpses must be of Japanese soldiers who might have tried to enter into that area. Many scholars attribute the skeletons to General Zorawar Singh of Kashmir and his men, as they lost their ways in Himalayas and were never found. This had happened in 1841.

But all these speculations had come to an end with the scientific tests and findings. As per radio-carbon dating result that was performed on these corpses, it became clear that the skeletons dated back to a period between 12th and 15th centuries AD. Again, there were different explanations to all this. According to some scientists, it is because of a ritual suicide and some believed that these skeletons are of victims of an unknown epidemic. Some historians have also linked the corpses to an incident that is related to the failed attack by Mohammad Tughlak on the Garhwal Himalaya.

According to a local folklore, there was a king of Kanauk named King Jasdhawal during medieval times. He wanted to visit Nanda Devi in the Garhwal Himalayas in order to celebrate the birth of an heir. But overexcited and noisy singing and dancing by him and his troupe broke the rules of the pilgrimage place. The local deity of the place around Roopkund got very upset on this and so terrible hailstones were showered on them and they were then thrown in the Roopkund Lake.

Scientific findings
Forensic investigation reports of the frozen corpses are in accordance with the hailstone theory. The National Geographic channel had commissioned some scientists to find out the mystery behind such a huge number of skeletons in the Roopkund lake. As per their findings, a number of skulls have been found with deep cracks that come when there is a sharp blow on the skull. The cause of these cracks is not a landslide or avalanche, but a blunt and round object having the size of a cricket ball. Also many people getting injury of the same kind means something from the sky must had come and hit them. All the injuries were found on the top of the skull and shoulders but not on any other part of their body. As per further investigation, huge hailstones must be the cause of their death.

Some of the bodies are perfectly preserved in the icy grounds and even have nails, hair and pieces of clothing. Women were also present among them as the pieces of glass bangles have also been found by the scientists. Along with this, leather shoes, spear, and bamboo staves are also found that point out these bodies must be those of the pilgrims.

Some tests on skeletal remains have been performed by the scientists at the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad. Out of these, three samples have shown a mutation in the mitochondrial DNA that is found only in a particular group of people from Maharashtra but not anywhere else in the world. Few of the samples confirm the people from Garhwal. So there is a possibility of pilgrims with local people might had visited the place and caught in hailstorm. But scientists are still working on this to find out the actual cause of the death of so many people at the mysterious Roopkund Lake.

Roopkund lake is an immensely beautiful place but needs immediate attention and protection from the government as the remains of the skeletal as well as articles are diminishing from the place at a very fast pace.