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Mystery of Skeletons Found in the Roopkund Lake

In the state of Uttarakhand lies Roopkund in Chamoli district is a high altitude glacial lake. Do you know what it is known for- skeletons?  Yes, you heard that right. Also known as mysterious lakes of skeletons, situated in the lap of Trishul massif is known for hundreds of human skeleton found in the lake.

Question is how too many people died in the same place in the uninhabited area of the Himalayas which is around 16499 feet from the ground. This place is inaccessible by vehicle; one has to trek in the snow to reach the lake for 3-4 days. Roopkund Lake is covered with snow for most of the year.

This mystery can be traced back to 70 years during the British Era. The skeletons were first found by the British guard in 1942. At first, they thought that the skeletons were of the Japanese soldier who died because of harsh weather conditions while crossing that route to India in World War II. But this was not the case, as upon investigation they found that the bones were not of the Japanese soldiers as their deaths were not fresh enough. This mystery has astonished many Historian, scientists, anthropologists, and people around the world raising many questions.

Who were they and what were they doing in the isolated region of Himalayas? How did they die? How did they all end up in the lake?

There were speculations about the who they could be and many theories were put forward. Britisher thought that the corpses were of Japanese soldiers, some scholars said the bones were of General Zorawar Singh of Kashmir, and his men who lost their way and disappeared in the Himalayas on their return from the Battle Of Tibbet in 1841.

Others say that something epidemic might have happened, the theory also believed that it was some sort of ritual suicide. In 1960, advancement in technology has led to the carbon test of the bones which indicated that these bones are centuries old, could be between12th – 15th century.

All the folklore and speculation can to an end when National Geographic decided to head the investigation. In 2004 expedition National Geographic commissioned scientists to test the bones that were found in the lake. The skeletons dated back to around 850 AD. DNA evidence revealed that the skeletons were of two groups of people one family group and another short group.

The deaths were due to a fatal blow on the back of their heads that cracked their heads. The cracks were not caused by any weapon, landslide or avalanche but rather with some blunt round object of the size of the cricket balls that came directly from above. All the people endured similar injury that resulted in their deaths.

Skeletons of the Roopkund

In the state of Uttarakhand lies Roopkund in Chamoli district is a high altitude glacial lake. Do you know what it is known for- skeletons?  Yes, you heard that right. Also known as mysterious lakes of skeletons, situated in the lap of Trishul massif is known for hundreds of human skeleton found in the lake.

Question is how too many people died in the same place in the uninhabited area of the Himalayas which is around 16499 feet from the ground. This place is inaccessible by vehicle; one has to trek in the snow to reach the lake for 3-4 days. Roopkund Lake is covered with snow for most of the year.

This mystery can be traced back to 70 years during the British Era. The skeletons were first found by the British guard in 1942. At first, they thought that the skeletons were of the Japanese soldier who died because of harsh weather conditions while crossing that route to India in World War II. But this was not the case, as upon investigation they found that the bones were not of the Japanese soldiers as their deaths were not fresh enough.

This mystery has astonished many Historian, scientists, anthropologists, and people around the world raising many questions. Who were they and what were they doing in the isolated region of Himalayas? How did they die? How did they all end up in the lake?

There were speculations about the who they could be and many theories were put forward. Britisher thought that the corpses were of Japanese soldiers, some scholars said the bones were of General Zorawar Singh of Kashmir, and his men who lost their way and disappeared in the Himalayas on their return from the Battle Of Tibbet in 1841.

Others say that something epidemic might have happened, the theory also believed that it was some sort of ritual suicide. In 1960, advancement in technology has led to the carbon test of the bones which indicated that these bones are centuries old, could be between12th – 15th century.

All the folklore and speculation can to an end when National Geographic decided to head the investigation. In 2004 expedition National Geographic commissioned scientists to test the bones that were found in the lake. The skeletons dated back to around 850 AD.

DNA evidence revealed that the skeletons were of two groups of people one family group and another short group. The deaths were due to a fatal blow on the back of their heads that cracked their heads. The cracks were not caused by any weapon, landslide or avalanche but rather with some blunt round object of the size of the cricket balls that came directly from above.

All the people endured similar injury that resulted in their deaths. The scientists concluded that the cause of the deaths was large hailstorm which killed everyone who was trapped in a valley with nowhere to go. A member of the team, Wolfgang Sax found a traditional song among Himalayan women literally translated to goddess being so angry at outsiders who defiled her mountain sanctuary that she rained death upon them by flinging hailstones “hard as iron”.

The 2004 expedition concluded that all 200 people died from the severe injury caused by the hailstorm and were buried in the lake for 1200 years.

Author

Richa Verma

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