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Mystery of the Roopkund Skeletons    by Anurag Sharma


Roopkund is a natural lake situated in Chamoli district of Uttarakhand. It is known for the natural beauty and is very popular among trekkers. The location is uninhabited and is located at an altitude of about 5,029 metres.


Roopkund is often called the mysterious lake as the mystery underneath it, starts unfolding when the ice on its surface begins to melt during the short summer period. The lake presents a grisly sight in the summers, as over three hundred human skeletons, known to be over 700-800 years old, can be seen in the waters of the lake. These skeletons were discovered in 1942 by accident.

There are severals stories about the origin of these skeletal remains, two versions being most popular. According to one belief, these are the remains of the soldiers of the legendary Dogra General Jorawar Singh, who met with some natural disaster on their way back after conquering Tibet. The local traditions suggest that these remains probably belong to a group of royal pilgrims who were caught in bad weather, while making a pilgrimage to Trishul base about 800 years ago. Recent studies by Indian and European scientists and DNA samples also confirm the second opinion as all the dead bodies are strongly related to each other and they have a rare DNA structure found in certain group in Maharashtra only. The holes on top of most skeletons suggest that they were unexpectedly hit by hailsstorm where the iceballs were almost as big as a cricket ball.

National Geographic Channel recently covered the latest findings on the Roopkund Lake tragedy in a documentary titled Skeleton Lake which reveals the secret behind the lake’s mass grave in Uttaranchal. Based on the latest anthropological and medical evidences, the film 'Skeleton lake' has been produced by Miditech Pvt Ltd, directed by Chandramouli Basu and written by Niret and Nikhil Alva. 

© Anurag Sharma