Roopkund Trek is famous for its ancient mystery. Along with the beautiful green meadows, or sky-kissing snow mountains, there is a mysterious story, hiding in this journey. This mystery makes Roopkund more famous as a trekking destination from all over the world. Let’s find out the scientific investigation, the myth and the story of Puranas behind the skeleton lake of Roopkund.
In the district of Chamoli, the beautiful damsel of Nauti village, Nandadevi was married to Lord Shiva. As per the conventional custom, Lord Shiva, returned to his home at Homkund with his newly married wife, Nandadevi. As her newlywed wife is very beautiful, Shiva took a lot of care during the journey. On the way, Nandadevi was very thirsty. Lord Shiva with his mighty power created a lake in Bedni Bughyial (Meadows) named, Bednikund. Again after some time, she wanted to have some relaxation in the way. It’s her wife’s call, so Lord Shiva created another lake, called Roopkund (the lake of beauty where the Goddess of beauty can take a bath).
That is the legendary story of the Goddess and Gods. But this beautiful lake, in the deep, exiled region of Himalaya would be unexplored forever. Let me tell you the incidents how this mysterious lake came into limelight.
In the Second World War, suddenly there was a vibe into the British army in India!!! In 1942, A British Forest guard H K Mādhwal suddenly found few skeletons underneath and surround of a lake (Roopkund) in 16000 Feet height and at the bottom of the mountain!!! Then 1942, They assumed that the Japanese had died for any reason while infiltrating from that direction!!
But after a little investigation, it has been discovered that those skeletons far elder as they think.
Again it became a big buzz!!!
In 1956, Centre for Chemical and Molecular Biology at Hyderabad made DNA test on the sample of the skeletons. They discovered that there are two types of skeletons on that lake. One had the similarity with the Iranian people, and the rest of the skeletons were similar to local tribes. This discovery whirled up more confusion. None understood that how or why they came to that Roopkund lake.
But the place was gradually growing up. It became one of the most obvious destinations of the trekkers. Some of them said that they had seen those skeletons and some say that there are no skeletons at all.
Ultimately, in 2004, a group of scientists from National Geographic and some other organizations gave some important information after series of investigations. They said that the skeletons were from the ninth century, and also said that there are two types of skeletons. One has the similarity with the local tribe, and the other type has the similarities with the Kaṅkanāstha brahmins of Maharashtra (Chitpavans). Another exciting information they disclosed that a blunt roundabout had hit those people from the sky. All of their skull and neck had the hit mark and injury sign. It may be that during heavy hail storms, big snowballs hit them from above and killed all of them.
Everything has been understood, but it is not clear that why did they come, where were they going? There is no solution until the end!!!
1. After Nanda Devi went Father-in-law house, as a tradition, the local people of Chamoli organized a procession to Homkund with the idol of Nanda Devi in every twelve years (12). They have to cross 280 km by trekking through those mountains. Some locals think that those skeletons are of those unfortunate pilgrims in the procession. Still here is a question – children and women are not allowed to go after Bedni Bugiyal. Then why there are the skeletons of women in Roopkund?
2. Another local story is about the king Jasdaval of Kanauj and pregnant Queen Balampā who wished to get the blessings of Nanda Devi. Being a king, he took servants, dancers, musicians with all the pilgrimage. The purpose was to get entertained on the journey. But Nanda Devi was angry for that. With her divine power, she pushed all the dancers on the stones. On the way to Roopkund, there is a campsite, named Pathanachuni( stone dancer), that’s the place the Goddess cursed the dancers.
Then there are multiple variations of the story:
* After the mass killing of the dancers, the king and queen pleaded Nanda Devi with meditation. The Goddess was pleased, but she said that after twelve years, this pilgrimage has to be held in etiquette. But the king, being impatient, started the journey before the defined time. Again in the wrath of the Goddess, all the pilgrims lose their lives.
* It was not a rule to cross Bedni Bugiyal with women, despite that the king took the queen with him and that brought the curse of the Goddess.
* In the pilgrimage, the queen gave birth to a child, but as the servants did not celebrate that correctly, the king was angry and killed them all.
All of the stories, all scientific tests are not concluded with any solution. But the mystery makes Roopkund famous forever. It becomes an all-time favorite destination for the trekkers.
At least, it was understood that before the discovery of the route by modern civilization, people commuted in this remote region from ancient times.
Other significant directions we may get from the local myths, that we should obey the rules of the Nature while traversing the nature. But the question is, do we follow the rules?