Roopkund Lake



When ice melts in the glacial tarn of Roopkund, located 5,000 metres above sea level in Chamoli district, Uttaranchal, hundreds of corpses can be seen floating. Thus gets exposed a mystery that dates back to more than 60 years and has begun to be understood only recently.

In 1942, a forest guard chanced upon hundreds of skeletons at this tarn.

The remains have intrigued anthropologists, scientists, historians and the local people ever since. Who were these people? What were they doing in the inhospitable regions of the Garhwal Himalaya?



Many speculated, initially, that the remains were those of Japanese soldiers who had sneaked into the area, and had then perished to the ravages of the inhospitable terrain.

Those were World War II times and even the slightest mention of a Japanese invasion was bound to throw the area’s British administrators into the tizzy.

The matter was investigated and the speculation was put to rest: the corpses were said to date back to at least a century. But nobody knew when exactly. Some British explorers to Roopkund, and many scholars attribute the bones to General Zorawar Singh of Kashmir, and his men, who are said to have lost their way and perished in the high Himalayas, on their return journey after the Battle of Tibet in 1841.


But radio-carbon tests on the corpses in the 1960s belied this theory. The tests vaguely indicated that the skeletons could date back to anytime between the 12th and 15th centuries ad. This led many historians to link the corpses to an unsuccessful attack by Mohammad Tughlak on the Garhwal Himalaya. Still others believed that the remains were of those of victims of an unknown epidemic. Some anthropologists also put forward a theory of ritual suicide.

Local folklore has it that in medieval times, king Jasdhawal of Kanauj wanted to celebrate the birth of an heir by undertaking a pilgrimage to the Nanda-Devi mountains in the Garhwal Himalaya. However, he disregarded the rules of pilgrimage by boisterous singing and dancing. The entourage earned the wrath of the local deity, Latu. They were caught in a terrible hailstorm and were thrown into the Roopkund lake.

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1 comments:

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2 March 2016 at 00:27 delete

Nice capture!!! Thanks for this post....Roopkund Trek

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