|— Lake —|
|Elevation||5,029 m (16,499 ft)|
|Time zone||IST (UTC+5:30)|
Roopkund (Skeleton Lake) is a glacial lake in Uttarakhand state of India famous due to more than five hundred human skeletons found at the edge of the lake. The location is uninhabited and is located in Himalaya at an altitude of about 5,029 metres (16,499 feet).
Human Skeletons 
The human skeletons were rediscovered in 1942 by a Nanda Devi game reserve ranger H K Madhwal, although there are reports about these bones from late 19th century. Earlier it was believed by specialists that the people died from an epidemic, landslide or blizzard. The carbon dating from samples collected in the 1960s vaguely indicated that the people were from the 12th century to the 15th century.
In 2004, a team of Indian and European scientists visited the location to gain more information on the skeletons. The team uncovered vital clues including jewellery, skulls, bones and preserved tissue of bodies. DNA tests on the bodies revealed that there were several groups of people including a group of short people (probably local porters) and a taller group who were closely related - with DNA mutations characteristic for Kokanastha Bramins in Maharashtra. Though the numbers were not ascertained, remnants belonging to more than 500 people have been found and it is believed that even more than six hundred people perished. Radiocarbon dating of the bones at Oxford University Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit determined the time period to be AD 850 ±30 years.
After studying fractures in the skulls, the scientists in Hyderabad, Pune and London determined that the people died not of disease, but of a sudden hailstorm. The hailstones were as large as cricket balls, and with no shelter in the open Himalayas, many, or possibly all of them, perished. Furthermore, with the rarefied air and icy conditions, many bodies were well preserved. With landslides in the area, some of the bodies made their way into the lake. What is not determined was where the group was headed to. There is no historical evidence of any trade routes to Tibet in the area but Roopkund is located on an important pilgrimage route of the Nanda Devi cult with Nanda Devi Raj Jat festivities taking place approximately once every 12 years.
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Roopkund is a picturesque and beautiful tourist destination in the Himalayas, located near the base of two Himalayan peaks: Trisul (7120 m) and Nandghungti (6310 m). A religious festival is held at the alpine meadow of Bedni Bugyal every autumn with nearby villages participating. A larger celebration, the Nanda Devi Raj Jat, takes place once every twelve years at Roopkund. Skeleton lake is covered with ice for most of the time during the year. However, the journey to Roopkund is an enjoyable experience. All along the way, one is surrounded by mountain ranges from all sides.
There are different routes for a trek to Roopkund. Generally, trekkers and adventurers travel to Lohajung or Wan by road. From there, they climb a hillock at Wan and reach Ran ki Dhar. There is some flat area where trekkers can camp for the night. If the sky is clear, one can see Bedni Bugyal and Trisul. The next camping spot is at Bedni Bugyal, which is 12–13 km from Wan. There is a huge grazing ground for mules, horses and sheep. There are two temples and a small lake that add to the beauty of this place. One can see many Himalayan peaks from Bedni Bugyal bridge. Trekkers then go up to Bhaguwabasa, which is 10–11 km from Bedni Bugyal. The climate at Bhaguwabasa is hostile for most of the year. One gets a closer view of Trisul and other peaks higher than 5000 metres. Many waterfalls and landslides are visible on the extreme slopes of the surrounding mountains. From Bhaguwabasa, trekkers either go to Roopkund and come back or they go to Shila Samundra (Ocean of Stones) via Junargalli Col Pass, which is just above the lake, and then proceed with the trek up to Homkund.
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Roopkund (The mystery lake) This high altitude lake (4600m) lies in the lap of Trishul massif. A shallow lake, Roopkund has attracted attention by having human skeletal remains easily visible at its bottom. There are many theories and opinions, from purely spiritual to purely scientific ones, which explain the existence of these skeletons, which date back to 9th century AD.
Marked by typical Garhwali villages busy in their own way and the extensive meadows this trek is special.
Roopkund skeletons in Popular Culture 
- "Roopkund - Skeleton lake". Wondermondo.
- "Roopkund lake Mystery". Roopkund.com. Retrieved 2012-06-02.
- Sturman Sax, William (1991). Mountain goddess: gender and politics in a Himalayan pilgrimage. Oxford University Press. p. 256. ISBN 0-19-506979-X.
- "Skeleton Lake". Miditech.tv. Retrieved 2012-06-02.
- Riddles of the Dead Episode Guide, National Geographic Channel
Further reading 
- Roopkund Trek, District Administration-Almora
- Roopkund trek in detail Indiahikes.blogspot.com
- Roopkund trek blog : September 2009 All you want to know about Roopkund!
- Roopkund Trek Sep 2009 Pictures 
- Roopkund Experience Roopkund trek info Updated
- Pictures from RoopKund, Bhagwabhasa, Bedni Bugyal and Ali Bugyal