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Roopkund is a place in Uttarakhandmarker state of Indiamarker, and it is the location of about three to six hundred skeletons at the edge of a lake—Skeleton Lake in the Himalayasmarker. The location is uninhabited and is located at an altitude of about 5,029 metres. The skeletons were discovered in 1942 by a park ranger. At that time, it was believed that the people died from an epidemic, landslide or blizzard. The carbon dating from samples collected in the 1960s vaguely indicated that the people were from the 12th century to the 15th century. In 2004, a team of Indian and European scientists visited the location to gain more information on the skeletons. The team uncovered vital clues including jewelery, skulls, bones and a preserved body. DNA tests on the bodies revealed that there were two groups of people, a short group (probably local porters) and a taller group who were closely related. Though the numbers were not ascertained, it is believed that three to six hundred people perished. Radiocarbon dating of the bones determined the time period to be in the 9th century, predating the earlier inaccurate tests. After studying fractures in the skulls, the scientists in Hyderabadmarker and Londonmarker 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, 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. What is not determined was where the group was headed to. There is no historical evidence of any trade routes to Tibet in the area or any places of pilgrimage.

Tourism

Roopkund is a picturesque and beautiful tourist destination in the Himalayas, located near the base of two Himalayan peaks: Trisulmarker (7120 m) and Nandghungti (6310 m). This place is famous among the masses because of the annual Raj Jat yatra. There are no roads to this place yet, so one has to undertake a 3-4 day trek to reach the skeleton lake starting from Gwaldum in Chamolimarker district. The skeleton lake is covered with ice for most of the time during the year. However, the journey to Roopkund is an enjoyable experience. All along the way, one is surrounded by mountain ranges from all the sides.

There are different routes for a trek to Roopkund. Generally, trekkers and adventurers travel to Lohajung or Wan by road. From there, they climb a hillock at Wan and reach Ran ki Dhar. There is some flat area where trekkers can camp for the night. If the sky is clear, one can see Bedni Bugyal and Trisul. The next camping spot is at Bedni Bugyal, which is 12-13 km from Wan. There is a huge grazing ground for mules, horses and sheep. There are two temples and a small lake that add to the beauty of this place. One can see a lot of Himalayan peaks from Bedni Bugyal bridge. Trekkers then go up to Bhaguwabasa, which is 10-11 km from Bedni Bugyal. The climate at Bhaguwabasa is hostile for most of the time of the year. One gets a closer view of Trisul and other peaks higher than 5000 metres. Many waterfalls and landslides are visible on the extreme slopes of the surrounding mountains. From Bhaguwabasa, trekkers either go to Roopkund and come back or they go to Shila Samundra (Ocean of Stones) via Geonaragali Col Pass, which is just above the lake, and then proceed with the trek up to Homkund.

At Roopkund, one can find a frozen lake during September. Most people get sunburns. One can see the clouds below and a clear sky above. One has to walk through a snow-covered, slippery ridge to reach Zohra Gully. An unobstructed view of Trisul and Nand Ghungti is visible.

Access

Kathgodammarker - Ranikhetmarker - Garur- Gwaldam - Debal (1220 m) - Bagrigad (1890 m) - Mundoli village - Lohajung pass - Wan village (2590 m) - Bedni Bugyal (3660 m) - Ghora Lotauni - Kalu Vinayak - Roopkund

Roopkund skeletons in Popular Culture

Roopkund's skeletons were featured in a National Geographic documentary "Riddles Of The Dead: Skeleton Lake". [120448]

References

Aitken, Bill. The Nanda Devi Affair, Penguin Books India, 1994. ISBN 0-14-024045-4.

External links

         * Preparation [120451]
         * Day 0-1 Bangalore-Delhi-Kathgodam-Loharjung Pass [120452]
         * Day 2  Loharjung to Didna [120453]
         * Day 3 Didna to Bedni Bugyal [120454]
         * Day 4 & 5 Bedni Bugyal to Bhaguawasa [120455]
         * Day 6-8 to be added!



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