Himalayan Mystery Lake
"Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves." -John Muir
The word ‘Roopkund’ illustrates images of a beautiful frozen lake amidst snow clad mountains and rock-strewn glaciers of Himalayas. With a perfectly stunning setting of dense virgin forests, lovely campsites, endless rippling meadows, crooning brooks, pretty lakes and views of ice and snow found among the rich folklore, Roopkund is a pulsating destination for tourists and adventure enthusiasts. This high altitude glacial lake in the state of Uttarakhand is truly a natural wonder. Imagine what it would be like to climb about 5,000 metres of a snow-bathed mountain and experience the chilling shiver of your adrenaline. Adventure trekkers breathe to find a location and setting as mind-numbing as this and the location cannot get any better for beginner trekkers.
The lake is approximately two metres deep and is frozen during most months of the year. It is during summers that the sun melts the lake and invites trekkers and pilgrims from all around the globe to the revered beauty of Himalayas. The sacred festivity of Nanda Devi Raj Jat takes place once every yearto worship the divine Goddess Nanda and throughout this stretch, pilgrims visit the region in a massive number.TheYatra is held during the months of August and September and itbegins from thevillage of Nauti near Karnaprayag and continues from Roopkund to Homkund. If you plan your trek well, you might get to participate in this traditional festival.
Roopkund is locally called as ‘Mystery Lake’and ‘Skeletal Lake’ because of human skeletons found at the bottom of the lake. When the ice melts, the skulls from these skeletons are easily visible creating an invincible mystery in the minds of the by-standers. What is it that is so gorgeous yet so mysterious about this lake? In the year 1942, a ranger from Nanda Devi game reserve H K Madhwal, was the first person to discover these skeletons. But the mystery of who are the people buried and why were they found in this gorgeous yet cursed lake still remains unravelled. Along with the skeletons many objects like rings, wooden artifacts, iron spearheads and leather slippers were found in this lake. There are numerable theories about these skeletons,most of them dating from to 9th Century A.D. to 19th Century A.D.
A visit from the team of NGC led to a series of investigation from scientists across the world. The mystery continued until it was discovered that the skeletons belonged to a group of unfortunate pilgrims who were trapped in a hailstorm. Since there were no physical damage or injuries relevantly found in these skeletons, the injuries on the skulls pointed fingers at hailstones as big as cricket balls subsiding on the shelter-less pilgrims.
This trip to Roopkund begins on your arrival to Kathgodam which is a small town in the district of Nainital. The enchanting trek that starts from Lohajhung paves way towards the River Neel Ganga or Neel Dhara that flows with tranquillity through the valleys of Kulling. The wildlife and flora of this place is immensely beautiful. MonalPheshant or MonalTragopanare the state bird of Uttarkhand and are quite commonly found in this region. Mountains goats or Bharals are also a frequent sight. The trails of the endless dense forests of Rhododenderons, oaks and pines are covered with brown leaves welcoming trekkers to this royal Lake.
The ageless green meadows that last for miles greet your way before gracefully merging with mountain sides. The small and big streams in the Bugyal region is a refreshing sight and you can fill your water bottles and take a relaxing bath here. Lush oak forests provide a golden pathway bewitching you to the very core. The weather changes as you gain new heights and ascent towards thin air often causing breathlessness and fatigue in trekkers. It is very necessary to slow down in such times and give enough time to get adjusted to these changes in the weather. You will soon see patches of snow coming your way close to the Lake. Towards the end of the trek, hard and slippery snow can be very consuming. During adverse conditions, you will need to carry ice-axes to cut steps in the snow especially if you are travelling with a smaller crowd.
The enriching experience of trekking in the serenity of Himalayas will heal your senses for a very long time making it the trip of your lifetime. You will see nature’s generosity at a whole new level and appreciate every ounce of it.