The Mystery of the Skeletons in Roopkund Lake, India

The Skeletons in Roopkund Lake
The Skeletons in Roopkund Lake

India has many mysteries, but none quite as strange as the Skeletons in Roopkund Lake.

Roopkund is a high altitude glacial lake in Uttarakhand state of India, it lies in the lap of Trishul massif and famous due to hundreds of human skeletons found at the edge of the lake.

When the snow melts, hundrends of Human skulls are seen floating in the water.

Bones, bones, and more bones....
Bones, bones, and more bones….

Who were those people who died here ? How did they die ? Its still a mystery.

The lake,
The lake,

The human skeletons were rediscovered in 1942 by a Nanda Devi game reserve ranger H K Madhwal, although there are reports about these bones from late 19th century.

freaky stuff!

The skeletons are visible in the clear water of the shallow lake during a one month period, when the ice melts. Along with the skeletons, objects like wooden artifacts, iron spearheads, leather slippers, rings etc. were also found. When a team from National Geographic magazine retrieved about 30 skeletons, flesh was still attached to some of the skeletons. One study identified the skeletons as those of Indians, and not of Chinese.

Later studies placed the time of mass death around the 9th century AD (1200 years old).

The local legend says that king of Kanauj, Raja Jasdhaval, with his pregnant wife Rani Balampa, servants, dance troupe and others went on a pilgrimage to Nanda Devi shrine and the group faced a hail storm with large hailstones, from which the entire party perished near Roopkund lake.

Though the numbers were not ascertained, remnants belonging to more than 300 people have been found. Radiocarbon dating of the bones at Oxford University’s Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit determined the time period to be AD 850 ±30 years.

The Anthropological Survey of India conducted a study of the skeletons during the 1950s and some samples are displayed at the Anthropological Survey of India Museum, Dehradun.

Holy Hailstorms, Batman

After studying fractures in the skulls, the scientists in Hyderabad, Pune and London determined that the people died not of disease, but of a sudden hailstorm. The hailstones were as large as cricket balls, and with no shelter in the open Himalayas, many, or possibly all of them, perished. Furthermore, with the rarefied air and icy conditions, many bodies were well preserved. With landslides in the area, some of the bodies made their way into the lake.

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