The Skeletons of Roopkund
Yes, there are skeletons mysteriously-strewn around this infamous lake.
No, we still don't know where they came from or why they're there.
Yes, after careful observation of the thousands of trekkers that summit to Roop Kund, they would like to say a few words on the matter.
These estimated 300 skeletons, which have been carbon-dated back 1,200 years to 9th century A.D., have become legendary across India for their mysterious presence at this frozen lake 16,499 feet above sea level.
Because, no matter what we do, we can't actually figure out who they are or how they ended up there.
Theories range from a freak hailstorm taking out Raj-jat yatra pilgrims or a massive army to Nanda Devi punishing a king and his army for his wife giving birth to their child in this sacred land.
Whatever truths does history hold, the fact remains that they are still there today, and we think that they've been rather observant of all of us trekkers passing through- after all, they've got to do something to pass the time, don't they?
They’ve got a bone to pick (very intentional pun) with the way people summit to the lake and turn right back around to return down to base camp. According to them, you're missing the best part of the trek, and honestly, we couldn't agree more.
While by no means is the actual Roop Kund unimpressive, it pales in comparison to the stunning sights of the rest of the trek, which is gifted with endless jaw-dropping scenes, the best of which is situated quietly just above the Roop Kund summit.
It's called Junargali, a small, unassuming iron gate peeking over the ridge above you, it's golden bell and flag encouraging you to come say hello.
“The problem is,” say the skeletons, “no one wants to climb anymore by the time they've reached Roop Kund. They decide they've had enough, but they miss out on the best part of the trek that way.”
So on our summit to Roop Kund this week, we took their advice, and huffed and puffed an extra 30 minutes up the steep, snow drift-covered incline toward this sky-high goal. We gingerly tread across the rock overhang, careful to avoid the left-side cliff drop-off, gutted out one more final ascent up through snow and…
They could not have been more right.
“This, right here, is where people need to go,” we think to ourselves.
The sun is just beginning to wash our snowy perch horizontally, leaving the gate beautifully silhouetted before us, and the view of the peaks gained from this extra pinch of altitude is far more spectacular than the normal one seen by the majority of trekkers just 400 feet below at lake-level. Trishul, Nandaghunti and Chanyakot tower around us, accompanied by their jagged, snowcapped ranges.
I guess the saying is true, the locals really do know best- they just happen to be 1,200 year-old skeletons in this case.
Our suggestion? You've carried yourself this far to see an amazing sight, give yourself the gift of that extra 30 minutes up to Junargali- it'll be the best decision you make all week.
Go for it- ring that bell.