Roopkund : Mystery under the watery grave!
It is one of the greatest mysteries of our times. It has been chronicled so much by historians, sociologists and scientists, alike that one can find internet abuzz with the different stories and theories. Hence makes not point for me to try to tell the history, at least not more than this that lake is usually called the ‘Mystery Lake’, since centuries old human skeletons and remains of horses are found here. By most accounts, these skeletons are almost 1200 years old. But besides this, Roopkund is also one of the most fascinating treks in Uttarakhand Himalayas, so much so that it always ranks among the top 10 treks in Indian himalayas. Hence it was always in my wish list for years, that ultimately got fulfilled.
Roopkund in this reference also becomes a mythological place and it indeed has quite religious importance for the region. This lake is located at an altitude of 5029 metres (16,499 feet) making it an high altitude himalayan lake. But lake is not big though. This area is uninhabited, surrounded by rock-strewn glaciers and snow clad mountains, making it a very popular trekking destination for both summer as well as winter treks. Area remains covered under snow for most part of the year from November to April. Even in summers, we can find glacial snow around the lake.
Trek to Roopkund might be popular but is not easy though owing to altitude as well as rough weather and tough route. Roopkund is situated in Chamoli district of Garhwal, in the lap of Trishul massif. Deep virgin forests, gurgling rivulets, breath-taking campsites and miles of surging meadows gratify the soul of adventurers. The region is dominated by Mount Trishul (7120m) and makes for another pilgrim for the faithful Lord Shiva devotees, on the walk up to the lake we camp at the Himalayan meadows of Bedni Bugyal & Ali Bugyal and cross the Roop Kund ridge which is a an extension of one between Sutol and Wan and forms the divide between the catchments of the Badni Ganga and the Nandakini River. Nanda Rajjat Yatra that takes place once every 12 years also goes to Roopkund.
Roopkund can be trekked from many routes. You can take Lohajung- Didna Village- Ali Bugyal- Ghora Lotani-Bhagwabasa-Roopkund-Bedni Bugyal-Lohajung route. Lohajung can be accessed by road easily. But its a challenging but very enjoyable trek.
Owing to its mythological and religious importance, many locals come here to pay homage to their deceased elders as well.
The highlight of the lake are the skeletons indeed. We can find bones strewn around. Though these bones are of historical and archeological importance, but being at such a tough place, there is no way to regulate how people coming here treat these bones. The popularity over the years have drawn many adventure tourists from around the world to this place. But once here, these bones become things to play for them. In these times of selfies, many tourists pick the bones and put them at convenient place to take photographs. Weird and spooky, but that’s how it is.
But at the end, a place worth a visit for every body who loves trekking. Overlooking the Roopkund is Jura Gali pass, a high altitude pass to crossover to the other side towards the Homkund or the base of the Nanda Ghunti and Trishul peaks. Many trekkers will cross this pass after Roopkund on the lines of Rajjaat Yatra.