Yet another mysterious and fascinating place of planet earth is the Skeleton Lake, water has been replaced by human skeletons. In reality known as Roopkund, this lake at an altitude of 16,500 feet is positioned in the secluded corners of Himalayas. This astonishing creation of nature can also be reached through Indian state of Uttarakhand.
This lake was not known to the world until a park ranger accidentally encountered the mass deposition of dead human bones in 1942. A major reason why it wasn’t discovered until mid 20th century was is inaccessibility. It takes around four days from any nearest location to reach the frozen lake of Roopkund.
In any day during the year, this lake contains around 300 to 600 skeletons, which is attracting tourists from around the world. Results declared after conducting a carbon dating tests says these bones are quite old dating anywhere between 12th and 15th Century. Conservative believers say the deaths of people were caused by some natural disaster like windstorm, snowstorm, or a landslide. However, the topic is still contentious as contemporary anthropologists aren’t convinced with the idea of mass death.
Until scientists come to a conclusion on cause of death, locals are busy creating folklores and mythical stories about Roopkund. When asked about the bones in this lake, the stories narrated by locals varied awfully. Some say those are bones of Tibetan groups who came here to trade and lost their way home. While other believes it is a result of ritualistic suicide by natives. Few people confidently identified the bones as the vanished Indian army. However, it’s tough to believe these tales and arrive at a conclusion defining dreadful history of the ‘Skeleton Lake.’
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Nanda Jaat Yatra, dancers, Garhwal Himalayan, corpses, bones, pieces of skulls sent a squad of Indian and European scientists in 2004. They brought along with them few corpses, bones, pieces of skulls, and surprisingly some jewelry for research. Astoundingly, the discarded the previous research and their findings, and defined the bodies to be from 9th Century. These skull and bones were further scrutinized by scientists from London. They found numerous fractures in the bones, especially on skulls. These kinds of fractures are generally a result of dreadful hailstorm. They predict the hails to be quite big in size, all as big as tennis balls.
And if that’s what really happened, it isn’t surprising to say that not a single human survived in the group that traveled o the open terrain of Garhwal Himalayan plain. The icy wind here in winter along with such massive hailstone rain is more than enough to kill huge groups. It is conjectured that a landslide had struck Roopkund after the bloodbath because all the dead bodies were buried under the lake surface. However, the landslide cannot be the reason of their death because most of the bodies were intact in ice under the land.
With no other evidence found, they concluded that hailstone could be the only reason of their death. However, the mysterious ‘Skeleton Lake’ has some more mysteries left unsolved. Experts are still bamboozled about the reason of mass migration that took place as early as 9th century. Roopkund wasn’t a historically or religiously significant location. Nor was it a part of any route that Tibetans could have taken for trade. This cannot be a route to any pilgrimage destination as well because of its inaccessibility. So where did they intend to travel?
However, the documentary made by National Geographic Channel endeavored to answer the mysterious question. They claim that this lake was a part of Garhwali’s religious tour known as ‘Nanda Jaat Yatra’. Such tours were taken by Garhwalis once in every 12 years.
Nanda Jaat Yatra
Though the story may sound convincing, there are no evidences supporting the idea of ‘Nanda Jaat Yatra’ except for few people living nearby. They say the bodies in the lake are of people who participated in the mass procession that took place many centuries ago. According to this myth, this procession was headed by a king who also invited many of his female dancers to accompany him. However, the goddess wasn’t quite impressed with the involvement of such dancers in religious procession and hence the group was punished with a dreadful hailstorm.
Such tales may be quite difficult to believe. But while learning about the history of Roopkund one must consider the fact that this massacre took place in 9th century. This was a time when every individual was religious and unbelievable phenomena in India were common.
No one yet knows about the reality of Roopkund. Meanwhile, numerous people now visit the site to watch the dead lying and waiting to be explored.