Roopkund is a hidden lake in the majestic Gharval Himalaya. For more than 1,000 years, hundreds of people have died around the lake, most likely as a result of a severe hailstorm. However, there are other theories as to why these ancient bones were discovered. On the other hand, the region’s specialties are alpine forests, verdant meadows, and snow-capped mountains, making it an ideal adventurous tourist attraction.
Roopkund Lake is known as “The Lake of Skeletons.”
Roopkund Lake, located deep in the Himalayan highlands at 5,029 meters above sea level, is a small body of water around 40 meters in diameter that is informally known as Skeleton Lake. Because, in the summer, as the sun melts the ice around the lake, the bones and skulls of many hundred old humans and horses laying around the lake reveal a terrifying picture.
It is unclear whether locals were aware of this prior to 1898, but the earliest written reports occurred in that year. In 1942, a ranger reported seeing bones and flesh in melting ice, causing concern among military troops who feared a surprise attack by the Japanese army.
The deceased’s bodies were preserved better than they would have been anywhere due to the low temperature, rarity, and cleanliness of the air. Even flesh is revealed as the ice melts. Some bones have been forced into the lake by ice and landslides.
The History of Roopkund Lake’s Skeletons
Little is known about the origins of these skeletons because they have never been subjected to systematic anthropological or archaeological scrutiny, owing in part to the disturbing nature of the site, which is frequently affected by rockslides and is frequently visited by local pilgrims and hikers, who have manipulated the skeletons and removed many of the artifacts.
Several theories have been proposed to explain the origins of these skeletons. The Himalayas are brimming with tales, and Roopkund is no exception. According to one Hindu account, Goddess Nanda Devi and Lord Shiva travelled through this location after defeating demons. Shiva built this lake for Nanda Devi in order to assuage her thirst. Nanda Devi could see her clean and beautiful reflection in the lake when she bent over it, hence the lake was named “Roopkund,” which means form lake.
Another folklore story tells of a visit to the adjacent shrine of the mountain goddess, Nanda Devi, performed by a king and queen and their many attendants, who were killed by the wrath of Nanda Devi owing to their inappropriate, celebrating behavior. It’s also possible that these are the remains of an army or a group of merchants caught in a storm. Finally, scientists have concluded that they were the victims of an epidemic.
DNA Analysis Suggests a Different History for the Roopkund Skeletons
To shed light on the origins of the Roopkund skeletons, researchers conducted a number of bioarcheological tests, including ancient DNA, stable isotope dietary reconstruction, radiocarbon dating, and osteological inspection.
They discovered that the Roopkund skeletons are made up of three genetically diverse groups that were deposited during a 1000-year period. These findings challenge prior claims that Roopkund Lake’s structures were deposited in a single cataclysmic event.
According to the latest findings, there were 23 people of South Asian descent at Roopkund, but they died in one or more occurrences between the 7th and 10th centuries A.D. Furthermore, the Roopkund bones comprise 14 people who perished there a thousand years later, most likely in a single event. Moreover, unlike the earlier South Asian framework, the later group at Roopkund had a genetic origin linked to the Mediterranean—specifically, Greece and Crete.
Why was there a Mediterranean group at Roopkund, and how did they die? Researchers have no idea and are not speculating. The victims of Roopkund, according to most experts, were pilgrims who perished during the Raj Jat pilgrimage after being caught in a heavy hailstorm.
Did the Mediterranean party arrive for the Raj Jat pilgrimage and linger long enough at the lake to die there? For the time being, there is no other option, according to the DNA evidence. Scientists, on the other hand, believe that such a scenario would be absurd.