Roopkund Lake, Uttarakhand – A Mystery Frozen in Time


Also known as the Lake of Skeletons, Roopkund Lake in Uttarakhand, located at 5029m above sea level, was a mystery frozen in time which was only unravelled recently by scientists.

The nascence of this lake at such a height was already a matter of bewilderment. On top of it, the lake has a heap of skeletons buried at its bottom, which is visible only once the snow melts. It was chanced upon by a forest ranger in 1942 who discovered mass grave in this inaccessible lake which actually takes a difficult trek of 4 days to reach at an isolated and uninhabited place.

Local legends believe that the skeletons belong to King of Kannauj of 9th Century AD. who was headed for a pilgrimage of Mount Nanda Devi along with his queen and other pilgrims who met with a sudden hailstorm and drowned in the lake. Scientists have recently corroborated the story that the skeletons actually belong to pilgrims and locals dated to around 850 AD. The researchers concluded that these deaths were caused by fatal blows on the back of the heads and not due to wounds found through battle-weapons, avalanche or landslide. The marks on the skulls and shoulder-bones were consistent with being hit by something round of the size of a cricket ball. The best guess is of the ball sized hail stones which would have caused the injuries and subsequently, deaths of these pilgrims.

Roopkund, also known as the mystery lake, is surrounded by rock-strewn glaciers and snow-clad mountains. The lake is about 2 meters deep and hundreds of trekkers flock to it every year. Tourists and pilgrims also attend the Nanda Devi Raj Jat that takes place once every twelve years at Roopkund for worship of goddess Nanda.

Roopkund Travel Guide

Distance from Delhi: 492 Km + 34 Km (trek)
Best Season: May to October

How to reach Roopkund

Lohajung Pass, well connected through motorable roads, is the starting point of the trek. The difficulty level of trek from Lohajung Pass to Bedni Bugyal is medium. Bedni Bugyal is the most scenic spot en route with a vast expanse of greenery, slopes full of coniferous trees. The most difficult part of the trek is of 14 km from Bedni Bugyal to Roopkund which is meant for properlygeared up travellers with prior trekking experience. No accommodation is available on the trek route.

Road route from Delhi to Roopkund

Delhi – Haridwar – Rishikesh – Devprayag – Srinagar – Rudraprayag – Karnaprayag – Dewal – Lohajung Pass – (Trekking = 34 Km) – Roopkund

Train Route to Roopkund

Rishikesh is the nearest railway station to Roopkund Lake. From Rishikesh, the road route as mentioned above needs to be followed.

Flight Route to Roopkund

Dehradun’s Jolly Grant airport is nearest to Roopkund. From there, the road route leads to Dewal from where the above mentioned road route can be followed.


Source by Manisha Sinha Ray

Agnes Brown

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