Incredible India has a diverse range of attractions for every traveller. Hence, exploring India is more like a roller-coaster ride offering you a blend of mysteries, natural abundance, religious hubs, historic destinations and full of adventures. Every destination in India has its own uniqueness. The moment you start feeling like you have explored the country in total, you get surprised with something new. This is what probably makes India an incredible country in true sense.
This post is about one such offbeat destination in India called Roopkund Lake, which is also popular as the Lake of Skeletons or a Mystery Lake.
Let’s catch a glimpse of the Roopkund Lake.
Perched at an elevation of nearly 16,500 feet amidst the most squalid part of the Himalayas, Roopkund Lake is an offbeat tourist attraction in the state of Uttarakhand, India. Soaked with trekking trails and delimited by rock-strewn glaciers, Roopkund Lake is visited by plenty of travellers from all round the globe. The nerve-pumping attraction of this location is the relics of over 600 human skeletons, which carry their decades old tales at the base of the shallow lake. These odd human skeletons become prominently visible once the snow starts melting at the edge of the lake.
There are many tales that go with the Mystery Lake. As per the Hindu myths, on their way back to Kailash after annihilating the evil spirits, Goddess Parvati wanted to clean herself. To fulfil the wish of his consort, Lord Shiva then created a lake with the help of his Trishul. While taking a dip in the water of the lake, Goddess Parvati was mesmerised by her own reflection in the lake water. Based on the reflecting of Devi’s beautiful look on the lake, it was named as Roopkund; where the word ‘Roop’ means look and the word ‘Kund’ means a pond or lake. Today, the holy lake has turned to a mysterious abode to many human skeletons.
According to the local inhabitants, it is believed that dates back to decade, King of Kanauj and his pregnant wife once went to visit Nanda Devi shrine along with others. On the way, they faced a heavy hailstorm. As a result of this the entire group was perished near the Roopkund Lake. To reveal the mystery of human skeletons, many researchers have also visited the site time and again. They have undergone several studies to reveal the truth.
In 1942, several skeletons were rediscovered around the lake and it was reported that those human bones were from the late 19th century. Apart from the skeletons, several iron spearheads, wooden artefacts, leather slippers and rings were also found near the lake. Over the periods of time, many stories, films and documentaries are made on Roopkund Lake featuring the remnants of human skeletons. One popular documentary under the title of “Riddles of the Dead: Skeleton Lake” was also pictureised here by the National Geographic, which gained quite popularity amongst the global audience.
Best time to visit:
The glacial Roopkund Lake of Chamoli district, Uttarakhand can best be explored from May to June and from September to October. July to August is the rainy season in this region. If you want to visit Roopkund Lake for trekking purpose, September to October may be the best time for you. Moving ahead in November, the region gets enclosed with heavy snowfall making the ambiance very frosty for tourists. On the other hand, from May-end to June, numbers of skeletons can be spotted here floating in the lake water. The reason being, this is the time when the snow starts melting emerging the human skeletons.
Things to do:
Besides being a mysterious lake site, the picturesque environs and snow-clad mountains around the lake make Roopkund as one of the popular tourist destinations in the state of Uttarakhand. Even, today, visitors travel here from all round the globe in quest of the truth.
For an adventure freak, two Himalayan peaks namely; Nanda Ghunti and Trisul are the key trekking hubs in Chamoli District. The trail of an adventurous trekking mostly starts from Lohajung or from Debal and further it takes you through Didna Village, Ali Bugyal, Ghora Latoni and Bhagwabasa. From Bhagwabasa, it takes further 5 Kms to reach Roopkund.
The trail is quite challenging here. On the way through the narrow roads, don’t forget to take pleasure from some spectacular panorama of captivating lush valleys and snow capped peaks. You can also enjoy an overnight camping on the way to Roopkund.
Catching the first glimpse of Roopkund Lake after a rousing trek is a lifetime experience. Breathtaking vista of azure waters around the lake makes you visit the site over and over again.
Note: Avoid trekking these routes after November, as intense snowfall makes the trail more difficult for trekkers. The region is prone to unanticipated landslide and road block. Trekkers are advisable to carry packaged food and tents before starting the trek, as no food is available here.
En route Roopkund, you can explore two more spectacular destinations like Bedni Bugya and Ali Bugyal. Bedni Bugya sees a good number of tourist’s footfalls all round the year. Nestled at an elevation over 7000 metres, Trishul Parbat is the key attraction at Bedni Bugya. On the other hand, located in a close proximity, Ali Bugyal is popular for housing galore of green vegetation and coniferous trees. These two spots are mostly visited as the camping base for trekkers.
How to reach:
Reaching the key spot of Roopkund is quite challenging for visitors as it requires long trekking. However, tourists planning for a visit here from different parts of the country can make it up to Jolly Grant Airport, Dehradun (around 195 kms) or Rishikesh Railway Station (around 170 kms). From both these locations one needs to travel till Karnaprayag. From Karnaprayag, it is nearly 57 kms motorable distance to reach Debal, which is the starting trekking point to reach Roopkund Lake.
You can get several state transports and private vehicles as well from the places like Delhi, Srinagar and Haridwar to reach Karnaprayag. Alternatively, you can also hire a cab from Delhi to reach till Debal. From Delhi, the route will take you through Haridwar -> Rishikesh -> Devprayag -> Srinagar -> Rudraprayag -> Karnaprayag- > Debal-> trek till Roopkund.
Total travel time to reach Karnaprayag from Delhi via Rishikesh is nearly 10-11 hours. Once you reach Karnaprayag, you can hire a taxi or shared cab to travel further till Debal.
Places to stay:
Well, it is a tough ask for visitors whether they will find a luxury hotel at Roopkund or not. Being nestled in an isolated location, no guesthouses, hotels and resorts can be expected around the destination. Hence, the only nearby option is Wan Village, which boast few accommodations for visitors.
One of the commonly visited guest house at Wan Village is GMVN Guest house. You can stay and have some basic foods here before you start the trekking. In addition, you can also refer the following two accommodations for a comfortable stay:
#Patwal Lodge Lohajung
Sabitri Kunj, Roopkund Road, Lohajung P.O., Mundoli
District Chamoli, Uttarakhand – 246427
#Lohajung Thrillophilia Hotel
Lohajung Guest House, Road for Roopkund Trek,
Lohjang, Uttarakhand 246481
Trekkers are advisable to carry their own camping tents. If you are planning a trip to Roopkund via any travel operators, then they will provide you the required camping equipments.
- Plan your trip to Roopkund Lake accordingly to the climatic conditions.
- Make sure you are physically fit enough for scaling the challenging trails.
- Carry all your essential belongings in your trekking kit.
- Don’t forget to carry sufficient amount of packaged food.
- Camping equipment is a must for night long stay on the go.
- Avoid visiting there during heavy snow fall.
- Carry a raincoat as the climate is quite unpredictable at Roopkund Lake.
- Get yourself into a proper and protected trekking suit.
Roopkund Lake is a popular trekking destination in Uttarakhand. A blend of scenic exquisiteness amidst the snow-clad terrain and trekking around the mountains is something awe-inspiring for a true adventure enthusiast. Soothing climate and tranquil environs make Roopkund an ideal spot for a mysterious escape. So what are you waiting for? Get yourself up for the mysterious place, which is not ready to demystify its existence. If you happen to be there, don’t forget to share your audacious voyage over the alluring Roopkund Lake.