|Roopkund lake skeletons. www.indiatoday.in|
|Skeletal lake, Roopkund. traveltriangle.com/|
Roopkund locally called Mystery Lake or Skeleton Lake is a popular hiking destination in the state of Uttarakhand, North India for two good reasons: it is a high altitude glacial lake at 5,029 meters (16,499 feet above MSL) lying in the lap of Trishul massif. From the motor-able road one has to hike 20 km uphill to reach the lake. And the other reason being there are hundreds of human skeletons found at the edge of the lake which is snow bound most of the time. This uninhabited Himalayan area, far removed from human habitation, is surrounded by broken debris of rocks as a result of glaciation and glacial erosion. It is simply a rugged terrain. Way back in 1942 this area was visited by a forest ranger. In the fifties, an expedition of the Anthropological Survey of India visited Roopkund and brought with it some samples. They are on display at the Anthropological Survey of India museum at Dehradun.
|Skeletal lake Roppkund, traveltriangle.com/|
What is the reason for so many human skeletons in one place at the bottom of the lake that too in an area far away from human habitation? Considerable research was done on the skeletal remains and Researchers have firmly concluded that the skeletons are the remains of people who were suddenly caught and killed in a sudden, violent hailstorm presumably in the 9th century.
The Chamoli district administration and forest authorities have a plan to develop the world-famous Roopkund Lake in the higher Garhwal Himalayan region as Eco-Tourism destination and are preparing a report on it. The unfortunate fact is the number of skeletal remains are dwindling as more and more tourists visit this unique glacial lake and take away the skeleton as souvenirs. The threat to these skeletons with great anthropological and historical value is a serious one and the state government is taking serious steps to protect this area from pilferage and trespassing.
As to the origin of human skeletons in Roopkund Lake in Garhwal Himalayas, there are some explanations. It is believed that Raja Jasdhaval and his wife, Rani Balampa, while on a pilgrimage to Nanda Devi were caught in a dangerous blizzard near the lake and perished there. The famous 'Nanda Devi Rajjat Yatra' that takes place every 12 years in Garhwal Himalayas passes through the Roopkund Lake. Some historians are of the opinion that the skeletons in the lake were that of the soldiers belonging to the great Dogra warrior Zorawar Singh's army who lost its way while returning from the Tibet expedition.
Hyderabad-based Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) retrieved 30 of the skeletons from Roopkund for DNA testing and made certain conclusions that the skeletons were roughly 1,500 years old and and the DNA analysis concluded that a particular group of people from Maharasthra, who were either on a pilgrimage to the Himalayas or lived there. Additional tests showed that the human skeletons strewn at Roop kund had skull injuries suggesting that they might have been caught in an avalanche or a blizzard. DNA tests done by Miditech Pvt Ltd of the award-winning brothers Niret and Nikhil Alva concluded some of the skeletons belonged to Brahmins from the Konkan region of Maharashtra.
it was due to a fatal blow on the back of their heads and not caused by weapons, avalanche or landslide. The marks on their skulls and shoulders suggested that the heade were hit by something round, like a cricket ball. In the absence of bodily injuries it was concluded that hard round objects, possibly cricket ball sized hail stones or ice balls might have caused fatal head injuries as the people had no place to hide.