The Unresolved Mystery of Roopkund Lake

We all have gathered a group of friends or cousins to discuss fictional and non-fictional haunted stories.

We all have spooked that one scaredy-cat friend with made-up stories of mysterious houses.

But what if we told you, the stories you base in unknown locations of India are actually a reality?

Cradled in the lap of Himalayas, the famous Roopkund lake is one such lake that is sure to give you the chills and thrills of a nasty horror story.

Known as the Mystery Lake or the Skeleton lake, this high-altitude lake located in Uttarakhand. An altitude of 5,029 makes it a remote and dangerous tourist destination. It’s a dream come true for challenge-loving trekkers.

With a depth of 2 meters and findings of hundreds of ancient human skeletons around it, this is one heck of an adventure you are surely going to brag about to your friends.

Wonder how this mystery lake was discovered?

The bones of Roopkund Lake
Image Source: scoopwhoop

Imagine you are on your duty patrolling at night and you spot a full-fledged skeleton floating in water. Pretty scary, right?

That’s exactly what happened to British appointed forest guard H K Madhwal who was on his everyday patrol when he found a skeleton floating in the lake which was about 16000 feet above sea-level.

Research, Tests and Discoveries:

With no foreseen answers to all the unanswered questions, in 1956, The Center of Cellular and Molecular Biology in Hyderabad attempted to conduct a DNA test to reveal the mystery to the world.

The scientists were able to conclude that two sets of skeletons: One was of a tall Iranian and the other was of a short local.

But it resulted in another puzzle: why and what was the motivation?

Many answers were left unanswered and so in the year 2004, a team of scientists came together and conducted a series of tests, which eventually revealed that the skeletons belonged to two different clans of people in the 9th century.

The mystery and the myths
Image Source: scoopwhoop

The first ones were of the locals. And the other taller ones were closely matched with the DNA of the Konkanastha Brahmins (Chitpavans) from Maharashtra.

Can you feel the plot thickening?

Another shocking discovery made in the tests was that all the skeletons had similar wounds. The wounds were more or less caused by a round object of the size of a cricket ball (Approximately 9 inches in diameter).

Look and wonder
Image Source: scoopwhoop

But what still remains a mystery is what were they doing way up there?


Where there’s a mystery, there’s always interesting theories being cooked up and Roopkund is no different.

  • Many believed earlier that the skulls were of General Zorawar Singh of Kashmir and his men who lost their way and died in the middle of the Himalayan region being stranded due to brutal weather conditions.
  • Another gripping theory suggests that Lord Shiva created this lake for his beloved wife and named it Roopkund (Roop-beauty. Kund-Lake). The locals of that village take a yatra every 12 years and the skeletons are the remains of those pilgrims.
  • Local Legends say that the king of Kanauj, Raja Jasdhaval with his pregnant wife, Rani Balampa, their servants, and a dance troupe went on a pilgrimage to Nanda Shrine. But the whole clan faced a terrible storm of hailstones which resulted in their death in the Roopkund river.
  • A recent study published in the Nature Communications had to say the following: That the radiocarbon dating found out that the remains are from different eras. This must be shocking but yes, the remains with South Asian Ancestry were dated around 800 CE. While the other skeletal remains were dated around 1,800 CE. 1,000 years apart! This study proves and tells us that the remains were not the outcome of a single catastrophic event as everyone previously thought and believed.

Conservation Concerns:

Some of the bones that are found here are stolen by tourists and local people who visit the area. Some take it as a souvenir and some just for the thrill of it.  If proper measures aren’t taken to preserve the bones, Roopkund would lose the very essence of why tourists visit the place.

The district administration has put forward a request to protect the area and its surroundings. Nevertheless, Government agencies are aware that if this issue isn’t seen and taken care of, India would lose a prime tourist destination.

SHOCKING FACT:  The district Magistrate of Chamoli district have reported tourists, trekkers and researchers who are curious about the mystery behind this phenomenon are transporting the bones on mules while some sneak it in their backpack.


One of the most renowned places for trekking in the world, the Roopkund trek is worth every brag that we put into this article. From its beautiful dense forests to its overwhelming meadows and snow-capped peaks, this route gets you through breathtaking views and landscapes that will undoubtedly leave you speechless.

  • Some come here to solve the mystery of bones, skulls and skeletons buried deeply under the snow in this lake.
  • Some come here to enjoy the green alpine meadows.
  • And, some come to be captivated by the beauty of the heaven that lies above the clouds at 16000 feet.

It is right at the base of two towering peaks, The Nanda Ghunti which is about 6,300 meters and Trishul 7,000 meters.

The Nanda Ghunti Peak
Image Source: wikipedia
The Trisul Peak
Image Source: wikipedia
  1. So, the first adventure trekkers must go through is head up to Lohajung.
  2. Once they reach Lohajung the next destination on their list is Ran ki Dhar.
  3. We suggest that if you want to camp out and enjoy the scenic view, Ran ki Dhar is the place to camp out.
  4. Bedni Bugyal is the next stop from Wan. Standing here and witnessing what nature has to offer will truly leave you mesmerized.
  5. For those who love to live their lives on the edge, those folks can even go further to Bhagwabasa around 10 kilometers away.
  6. Once there, one can experience and inhale the fresh air and scenic views of waterfalls around. As much as one wants to stay there and make-believe what they are seeing, one can’t stay there for long due to harsh weather conditions.
  7. One can further extend his/her adventure and trek all the way up to Shimla Samundra and eventually to Homkund.

Best Time to Visit:

May Last Week-June and September-October.

How to reach:

By train – Rishikesh is the nearest railway station to Roopkund Lake.

By flight – Dehradun’s Jolly Grant airport is the nearest airport to Roopkund. From the airport, you can follow the road route to reach Dewal from where the trek begins.

For your next adventure, trek your way towards the mysterious lanes of Roopkund.

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