Nestled in the lap of a snow-capped Himalayas, a beautiful shallow lake known as the Roopkund Lake is one of the most beautiful sights humans can come across at a height of 16,000 feet above sea level. Isn’t that something you will like to see? Unfortunately, hidden in its shallow depths is a haunting mystery that reveals itself at least once a year. Every year when the frozen lake melts, it reveals a dump of 300 skeletons which continue to intrigue scientists and common man alike. It is because of these skeletons, the Roopkund Lake has been given the moniker, the Skeleton Lake. Let us learn 20 interesting Skeleton Lake facts and find out the possible explanations for the origins of those skeletons.
Interesting Skeleton Lake Facts: 1-10
1. Sitting at a height of 4,900 meters or 16,000 feet in the laps of Indian Himalayas is a beautiful lake surrounded on all sides by rocky glaciers.
2. With a depth of only 2 meters max, the lake reveals its true nature every year when the ice melts and hundreds of human skeletons are revealed.
3. Because of the large number of human skeletons resting at the bottom of the lake, it became popular by the name Skeleton Lake.
4. The skeletons were first reported during the early 19th century but the news failed to propagate. Eventually in 1942, H K Madhwal – a ranger from Nanda Devi Game Reserve rediscovered the dump of around 300 skeletons and news spread like wild fire.
5. Though the discovery was made, no one could say anything about the origins of those skeletons and a number of theories popped up in an attempt to provide an explanation.
6. Some said that the skeletons belonged to Japanese soldiers who died during WWII while attempting to travel through India and that they were killed by extremely harsh weather conditions in that area.
7. A team of researchers eventually found out that the skeletons were pretty old and cannot be of soldiers of an very recent and ongoing war. With WWII coming to an end, not much importance was given to the mystery and the Skeleton Lake took a backseat.
8. Later however, interest in the mystery was revived and another round of investigation eventually revealed something more. Along with the skeletons investigators found bits of hair, nail and flesh on some of the skeletons very well preserved. It was because of dry and cold air along with frigid temperature of the area.
9. Along with the skeletons, the investigators also found jewelry, leather slippers, iron spearhead and wooden artifact.
10. Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit of Oxford University dated the skeletons and found they are from 850 CE. Unfortunately, no evidences of nearby settlements could be found and hence, it was proposed that the people who died were actually travelers.
Interesting Skeleton Lake Facts: 11-20
11. Other theories that tried to explain the mysterious bones included a sudden avalanche or landslide, starvation, sudden disease, a possible enemy attack or a ritualistic suicide.
12. Yet another theory suggested that the people were not anywhere close to the Roopkund Lake at the time of death and that they dead bodies were deposited in the lake by the glacial movements.
13. A local legend was associated with the discovery of the skeletons. The folklore says that King of Kanauj – Raja Jasdhaval took that path along with his pregnant wife. A dance troupe and several servants were accompanying the King and the Queen on a pilgrimage trip to Nanda Devi shrine.
14. They were headed for the shrine to attend the Nanda Devi Raj Jat that used to be held only once every 12 years.
15. On their way to the Shrine, the entire group was hit by a very severe hailstorm. As per the legend, the hail stones were very big. The entire group was on an open route with no shelters whatsoever.
16. Unable to find a hiding place, the entire group perished in the violent storm after being hit by the massive hail stones.
17. Though a local legend, the story found some credibility when in 2013, a group of researchers concluded that people (whose skeletons are found in the lake) died of hailstorm because a careful study of the skeletons revealed signs of heavy blows on neck, head and shoulders with no other signs of wound mark present on the rest of the body. Thus, the legend is considered to be the most plausible explanation so far.
18. As of date, conservation of Roopkund lake is a major concern because visitors who trek all the way up to that place often take back skeleton parts or entire skeletons probably as a memoir of their visit to the lake.
19. According to scientists, the remains can reveal more information than what has so far been unearthed but as the remains are being removed gradually, the possibility of future research may be lost.
20. It is because of this reason, efforts are being made to preserve the place as an Eco-tourist destination so that the truth behind those bones in the Skeleton Lake can be discovered.