It’s India’s most popular hike for a reason
During high season each year, thousands of adventure-seekers pack their bags and converge on the enchanting trail of Roop Kund for what I can sincerely say is the trek of a lifetime.
No matter how bad your thighs are burning going up that mountain, the views never fail to leave a smile on every face as they make their way back down.
What about this trek is so adept at thrilling its visitors? How could it possibly satisfy every facet of what a trekker looks for in their journey.
It’s the complete package, I say, so let’s look at the five things that keep it that way.
1. High Altitude Meadows
Ali Bugyal and Bedni Bugyal, two of India’s largest highest-altitude meadows (and most beautiful, in my opinion), guide you gently to your second night’s tent camp at Bedni proper. Fittingly referred to as “Heaven’s Terrace,” Ali welcomes you out of the coniferous forest and treeline into stunning panoramic views of the two valleys below you on either side.
At 3,000 meters, you’ll pass through scatterings of various flowers growing out of the electric green grass and grazing mules as you continue to rise in elevation (and view-awesomeness-level), until you transition into Bedni Bugyal, which you will call home for the night.
Bedni practically frames the towering Trishul Peak in the distance that you will soon be at the base of for you Roop Kund summit in a day and a half’s time.
On the far edge of Bedni, you will encounter two small temples and what looks like a walled-in dry pond. Legend has it that Lord Shiva’s wife, Parvati, was on her way to visit his home but wanted first to check that her appearance was suitable. Lord Shiva plunged his trishul into the ground here at Bedni to create a reflective lake that she could freshen up with.
The chance to see these two emerald beauties should not be taken for granted. Seldom does a view this spectacular from a meadow welcome you so easily.
2. Sky-High Lake
This high-altitude lake has perched itself icily at 15,700 feet. For reference, the highest lake in India is Lake Cholamoo in Sikim at an altitude of 17,490 feet- so making it to Roop Kund means you’ve reached the big league in terms of sighting some of the world’s highest-altitude lakes.
While it is frozen the majority of the year, it does thaw temporarily in the dead of summer, creating an emerald gem tucked quietly into the snowcapped peaks of the Himalayas.
Speaking of dead, that brings us to our third piece of the “full package” puzzle…
No trek is complete without a bit of mystery, is it?
The lake has been dubbed “Skeleton Lake” by some for the mysterious presence of over 300 human skeletons that have been dated back by scientists to be 1,200 years-old. Why they were there, who they were or how they died- still no one knows.
Theories pose that they were trekkers or religious pilgrims on a yatra that were caught in a hailstorm and perished. Others on the more mystical side of things say that as a king and his wife were passing through with their army, the wife gave birth in a nearby cave, and the gods were so angered by her soiling of this sacred land that they destroyed them all.
Whatever the real reason for their existence at the shores of the lake are, we’ll never know, which is probably better. When the lake briefly melts each year, you can see the skeletons sunken into the bottom of the 2 meter-deep lake and occasionally scattered around the bank as well.
Lots of it.
While the majority of the Roop Kund trek is lush and green, transitioning above the treeline into jagged mountain peaks and more neutral tones, you can bet Roop Kund’s summit itself will never fail you on the promise of snow.
Perched just above a perpetual snow-line, this is your definite chance to catch your first glimpse of snow if you’ve never seen it before. Throw a snowball at your tentmate or just stare in awe at its blinding beauty- just make sure to wear your goggles!
For its spectacular views and high-altitude summit point, Roop Kund is still generously only rated as a moderate trek.
While it’s not an optimal trek for brand-new beginners (I suggest you at least give yourself one easy trek or lots of physical activity training and strengthening before), it’s not impossible for those who are less experienced to take it on. In fact, I saw in trekkers in my recent expedition for whom Roop Kund was their first-ever trek!
This opportunity doesn’t come along every day. Most easy treks don’t take you so high or give you the astounding views you’ll find along the trails of Roop Kund, and most hard treks are out of the question for those who are inexperienced.
Because of its moderate level, Roop Kund becomes every man’s trek- challenging and beautiful, yet not overwhelmingly difficult.
This journey into the clouds truly does have something to offer to each traveller that takes on its trails. Whether the stunning greenery of its rare alpine meadows is what you want, the chance to play in snow, a little mystery or even just an adventure that is suited to your physical abilities- Roop Kund has, and always will have, your back.
See you there!