10/10/2008 to 10/13/2008 | India , Uttarakhand

Roop Kund

legacy gallery with captions

The mysterious lake of Roop Kund sits below the towering 7120 m (23,350 ft) face of Trisul, on the western edge of the Nada Devi Sanctuary, mountainous region surrounding Nada Devi the highest peak solely contained within India.  The lake draws its notoriety from the large collection of human bones that lie beneath the surface of the shallow lake.  The origins of these bones remain a mystery.  Many theories have been offered to explain the collection of remains ranging from fanciful speculation of a ritual suicide by Hindu warriors, to the less dramatic and more mundane theory that group of pilgrims were caught in a large hailstorm.  Actually I had never heard of the lake which is more famous among Indians than foreign tourists, until Robin mentioned the trek while we were hiking from Ladakh.  He mentioned it was a trek he was planning to do and when it worked out that we were both in Uttarakhand at the same time I decided to join him.  It was a relatively short three day out and back trek from the village of Wan, which we reached by hitching a ride in the back of a truck along a dirt track road cutting out a half day of walking.  Both of the camp sites along the trail at Bedni Bugyal and Bhugu Basa offered panoramic views of the distant Himalaya stretching from the mountains above Gangotri in the far west to Badrinath to the north, with the massive face of Trisul to the east.  It was early October but the cold of winter was already descending on the high Himalaya, we reached Roop Kund to find the lake itself completely frozen over with the ice and snow obscuring the bones beneath the surface, making the lake itself less than impressive.  Beside the lake a small shrine lie a human skull and a jaw bone, but that was all that was visible of the lakes deadly past.  We decided to hike up further over the snow covered slopes to the 4620 m (15,150 ft) pass known as Jyuri Guli.  From the pass we were rewarded with a spectacular view looking right in to the belly of Trisul and down on rugged valley bound by Trisul to the east and 6309 m (20,690 ft) Nanda Ghunti to the north.  The view from Jyuri Guli made a suitably impressive culmination to our trek, since the small frozen over lake of Roop Kund in itself was a somewhat anticlimactic destination for such a beautiful trek.

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