Lake of Dead
Roopkund situated in Uttarakhand state of India is known as “mystery lake or lake of skeletons”. It lies in the lap of Trishul Massif. The size of the lake is almost 40 meters in diameters and it remains frozen during winters.
When it is the time for summers, the lake reveals remains of skeletons, it is indeed a horrifying sight. The skeletal remains are clearly visible at the lake’s bottom. It is quite astonishing that Roop (Sanskrit origin) means beauty, but the sight which the lake reveals is indeed ugly.
Back in 1942, undivided India, one of the ranger named Hari Kishan Madhwal rediscovered the remains. Initially the British Government of India thought that these remains were of Japanese invading troops, but for them to reach that extreme terrain is not possible. Some experts claimed that these remains could be from 9th century. More theories, believes now started emerging. Along with skeletons there were spearheads, leather slippers, rings etc. This was indicating that these people were some troops.
Year 2003 was an important phase when teams of National Geographic retrieved 30 skeletons, it was a startling discovery that flesh was still attached to some of them. This was a major breakthrough. It paved way for science to come in.
One popular myth that revolved around Roopkund dates back to Mahabharata times. Hindus believed that those remains were of the Pandavas, who went to heaven from this track. However, it only remained as a folklore.
Use of modern science helped a lot to bring out some credible details. Back in 1950s Anthropological Survey of India already claimed that on skeletons there were sign of injuries, which could be possible through hailstorms.
Radiocarbon dating at Oxfords has revealed various details, it claims that death period of the skeleton dates back to 850CE, it was remarking that the skeletons had number of ancestries like South Asian, Southeast Asian, and modern-day Greece. This itself gives rise to new mysteries.
Another legend which is attached with Roopkund talks about Pratihara dynasty king Raja Jasdhawal who ruled Kannauj .He along with his kith and kins, dancers made pilgrimage to Nanda Devi Shrine, but unfortunately got captured in hailstorms and died.
So, we see number of mysteries, myths and legends revolves around Roopkund, there are many details yet to be discovered. May be in near future we get to know about many more eerie details. Above all one thing is to preserve these remains. Experts have made concerns that soon these remains will get vanished. Government too has arrived at the scene and conservation program is going on. Roopkund is today a major tourist attraction and it was attracted national as well as international media attention.
India is a land of mysteries. Jungles, mountains, valleys are still unexplored which will give rise to new mysteries, till then it is our responsibility to conserve these mysteries. Roopkund is still a mystery, years more to come to reveal its true mysteries. But with few evidences we can say that those were unfortunate ones who got captured over there, how they reached, from where they started their journey is still a deep mystery.