The word “ROOPKUND” means- “Skeleton or Mystery Lake”. This high altitude glacial lake is located in the heart of Uttarakhand. Trekkers have to encounter several adversities in the Himalayas and this beautiful water body is located in the exotic snowcapped Mount Trishul that is situated at an altitude of 16,499 ft – Enthusiastic trekker should undertake this challenging trip. There are human skeletons, below the lake, that is clearly visible when the snow melts which adds a spine chilling experience for plenty of visitors during Roopkund Trek
The entire route of this trek is a fascinating journey in the exploration of the Himalayan peaks, the Oak, and the blooming Rhododendron forests. Roopkund trek is graded as a moderate, and takes trekkers through the routes of snow capped mountains, rivers, ridges, lush green forests and beautiful meadows. Memories of this adventurous trek will linger on forever.
About the Trek:
Trek to Roopkund passes thru dense forests, murmuring brooks, beautiful campsites and the lush green meadows. Trekkers get ready for an adventurous experience, as they climb 8,000 ft – 16,000 ft in 8 days.
- This trek starts from the second day to the glacial lake of Roopkund. The Lord Curzon route starting from Lohajung, reaches the pass uphill and leads to Bedni river.
- On the third day, trekkers can see the beautiful Garhwal Himalayas, and further proceed to Didna village and reach Ali Bugyal.
- On the fourth day start the trek from ALI BUGYAL to GHORA LOTANI as they continue to witness the beauty of the Himalayas. On the way see the Himalayan Magpie.
- On the fifth day trek from GHORA LOTANI till BHAGWABASA. Trail goes through the high altitudes, curved trails with piercing icy cold winds. Trekkers bypass the KALU VINAYAK temple, and finally reach Bhagwasa.
- On the sixth day pass through Bhagwabasa to Roopkund Lake, and reach Bedni Bugyal. The TRISHUL has many unexplored places, and lot of fascinating and interesting stories.
- Trekkers get astonished by the captivating views of glorious and splendid Garhwali Himalayas which extend upto Gangotri.
- On the seventh day trekkers start their trek back from BEDNI BUGYAL to LOHAJUNG and get hypnotized by the blooming Rhododendrons. The trails are steep at the Neel Ganga until trekkers arrive at Wan.
Some of the highlights of this trek are:
- Enjoy the wonderful rivulets, streams and breathtaking views of the campsites during the trek.
- Camp near the cascading water under the starry skies and one can star gaze and have a small bonfire with friends.
- Trek through the forests of Oak, Fir and Rhododendrons.
- Witness some of the rare and unique flora and fauna of this region.
- Stunning views of Mt. Trishul till they climb the top. The region surrounded by the Himalayan peaks and is a photographer’s delight – Admire the beautiful peaks of Chaukhamba, Kedarnath, Neelkanth and Kedar Dom.
- Spend some time enjoying the beauty of small streams on the way.
- Have a cup of tea and mix with the locals to understand their culture and tradition.
Key Facts about the Trek:
|Region||Garhwal Region, Himalayas – Chamoli District – Uttarakhand.|
|Duration||8 Days 7 Nights|
|Ideal Time||The best time to visit this place is March- June as the region is warm and pleasant with clear and sunny skies. During June- September the region receives heavy rainfall and it is not an ideal for visit.|
|Temperature||The temperature during the day is between 13*C- 18*C and it drops to -7*C at nights.|
|Level||Moderately difficult. This trek is a high altitude trek, and needs tremendous acclimatization because as trekkers scale high up in the mountains where there is an oxygen drop. Suggested to undergo regular physical training and cardio vascular exercises at least 3 months before the trek. Most importantly, trekkers should be free of ailments.|
|Total Distance||53 Kms|
|Maximum Elevation||The trek starts at a minimum elevation of 3200 ft at Lohajung and reaches a maximum altitude of 15,696 ft at the Roopkund pass.|
|Weather||The best time to visit this trek is in summer as the temperature is warm and pleasant ranging between 20*C-25*C. In winters it drops to -5*C and the entire region receives heavy snowfall and remains frozen with sheets of snow.|
|Communication||There is connectivity till Lohajung. After crossing Lohajung the connectivity is lost. There are lot of BSNL landline networks installed that are available here. In case of emergency only satellite communication works.|
|ATM Point||The last ATM point is at Dewal before the trek starts.|
Arrival at LohajungTrekkers reach Lohajung after a long 11 hour journey from Kathgodam. The beautiful views of the Nanda Ghunti, is just hypnotizing and gives a pleasantly welcomes the trekkers. The name “Lohajung” is believed to be place where goddess Parvati, killed demon Lohasur. Spend some time here at the stores buying some jackets / gloves, caps and shoes. Trekkers will have good mobile connectivity here. If they wish they can trek to the mountain peak of Ajan. The place is good for excursion and trekking, and trekkers can get splendid views of Maikoti village (18 km from Rudraprayag) from here.2
Trek from Lohajung to Didna Village On this day trekkers trek towards the Lohajung pass, Bedni Ganga River and see the Roopkund glacial lake. The route of Lord Curzon, from Lohajung, leads them to the Lohajung pass and finally takes them to the Bedni River. They cross a bridge and the entire trek passes through forests of Oak and Bamboo till reaching Didna village. This will be the first base camp, and overnight stay will be at the tents.3
Trek from Didna Village to Ali BugyalThis is a steeptrek that takes them through the Oak and Bamboo forests in the backdrop of the Garhwal Himalayas. After having breakfast the trekking starts through dense forests. Get totally stunned with the splendid view of the Himalayas and the beautiful meadows of Ali Bugyal. Overnight stay will be at tents.4
Trek from Ali Bugyal to Ghora LotaniThis day will be a bit easy as they see the beautiful Himalayan ranges and magpie, (Eurasian birds). On this day trek through the other side of the ridge, and if trekkers are lucky they can spot these birds. After trekking for some time here arrive at the Ghora Lotani that is again a beautiful destination of the Roopkund trek. Overnight camps will be at Ghora Lotani5
Trek from Ghora Lotani to BhagwabasaThis is a high altitude trek, which has barren campsite with icy winds blowing. After breakfast the trek starts – trekkers should be prepared to scale up to an altitude of 12,500-14,500 ft. They should gear themselves for some tough challenges posed by the high altitude, icy cold winds, zig- zag and curved passes. Pass the Kalu Vinayak temple, and finally reach Bhagwasa (12500 ft) that is located in a desolate and barren landscape. Overnight stay will be at tents.6
Trek from Bhagwabasa – Roopkund Lake – Bedni Bugyal (via Bhagwabasa)Trekkers see the beautiful Roopkund Lake, somewhat frightening views of human skeletons, Mt. Trishul and Gangotri ranges. After having breakfast trek to the Roopkund lake. This is an unexplored habitat in the lap of Mt. Trishul, and has fascinated many travelers with numerous stories. Again from here in half an hour reach Junar Gali, the highest point on this trail and again trek back to the base camp of Bedni Bugyal. (Via Bhagwabasa). Enjoy the beautiful views of the Garhwal Himalayas that extends till Gangotri. Overnight stay will be at Bedni Bugyal.7
Trek from Bedni Bugyal to Lohajung (via Wan)Trek through the alpine meadows and the Rhododendron forests. As trekkers start their return trek again they carry unforgettable memories of this trek. They get a chance to see glimpses of Mt. Trishul from Bedni Bugyal, especially on a clear and sunny day from Kanakdhar (en-route via Wan). The descent is steep, and then ascend slowly, through the blooming Rhododendron forests. After a steep descend at Neel Ganga arrive at Wan. Again from here drive back to Lohajung and overnight stay will be here.8
DepartureOn this day trekkers explore Lohajung and finally the Roopkund trek comes to an end. A last chance to see soak in the beauty of Himalayan mountain peaks!. Spend some time enjoying and exploring around Lohajung, and depart from here with cherished memories of this trek. Trekkers are dropped at the railway station / bus stand / airport from where they proceed to their respective destinations.
Arrival at Lohajung
Trek from Lohajung to Didna Village
Trek from Didna Village to Ali Bugyal
Trek from Ali Bugyal to Ghora Lotani
Trek from Ghora Lotani to Bhagwabasa
Trek from Bhagwabasa – Roopkund Lake – Bedni Bugyal (via Bhagwabasa)
Trek from Bedni Bugyal to Lohajung (via Wan)
Some of the inclusions of the trek are:
- a) Accommodation:
“The Patwal Hotel” and restaurant is the only famous budget hotel at Lohajung. There are lot of dining options available and rooms with good amenities. The hotel is a budget hotel and has the following facilities:
- Family rooms
- Discounted price
- Free cancellation before 72 hours
The travelers are required to produce photo identification proofs, and special requests are subjected to availability. Travelers should inform the hotel authorities, to make confirm their booking. Once the travelers confirm their date of coming, the hotel authorities will ask for bank details to block the room. The Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam is 2 km from Wan and Lohajung and offers the following facilities:
- Air conditioned room
- Housekeeping facilities
- Attached bathroom
- Iron board
- Room services / breakfast
- Backup generator
- Travel counter and booking facilities
- Cable/ satellite TV services
- Currency exchange
- Ample parking
- Doctor on call
Online travel portals offer lot of choices to book accommodation at desired prices, preferred time and conveniences. Besides, on early bookings travelers can avail discounts and offers. Some of the other recommended hotels are:
|Pine Havens||3 Star|
|Bhagwa Basa||4 Star|
|Patwal Hotel||4 Star|
|Hotel Walnut||3 Star|
|Hotel Uttarakhand||4 Star|
|Embassy Hotel||3 Star|
|Trilok Hotel||3 Star|
|Roop Kund||4 Star|
|Hotel Omkaar||4 Star|
|Kausani Best Inn (Hotel & Restaurant)||4 Star|
|River Valley Resort||4 Star|
|Hotel Devoy Inn||3 Star|
|Hotel Mandakini||3 Star|
|Kyari Corbett||4 Star|
|Welcome Heritage Corbett Ramganga Resort||4 Star|
|Snow View Huts||3 Star|
|Neemrana’s – Glasshouse on the Ganges||4 Star|
|Sapphire Retreat||4 Star|
|Hotel Hill Palace||3 Star|
|Second Life Resort||4 Star|
- b) Meal:
The cuisine of the region are called “PAHADI” OR “KANGRA” cuisine, and both vegetarian and non-vegetarian cuisine are cooked. The people of the region use lot of spices in the preparation of their dishes and the dishes are cooked in a low flame. The people of this region also use consume lot of dairy products specially ghee, buttermilk and curd to add extra taste to their dishes. The local food festival called “Dham” that is specially prepared by traditional cooks. The vegetarian dishes are Kafuli, Phaanu, Bhang Ki Chutney, Til Ki Chutney, Stuffed and Aloo Chapatti, Aloo Tamatar Ki Jhol, Gatak Ke Parate, Chainsoo, Aloo Ke Ghutke, Rice, Kumaoni Raita, Pahari Rajma Daal, Sisunk Ka Saag, Thhattwani, Jhangoraa Ka Kheer and Arsa. The non-vegetarian dishes are Chicken curry, aadab gohst, marinated chicken, chicken anaardana, grilled fishes and Kullu trout. The cuisine of this region reflect the geographical and cultural diversities of the culinary and cooking habits of the people of this region. All these dishes keep the body warm and give lot of heat and energy to the body for being physically active. The people of this region cultivate lot of pulses, wheat, buckwheat and legumes that are organically cultivated and grown according as per climatic conditions.
Some of the activities that are popular in the region are:
- Peak / Rock Climbing
- Aero sports
- Scuba diving
- Rifle shooting
- Snow walk
- Flying fox
- Giant swing
- Off road adventure.
- Zip line.
- Mountain biking
- Horse safari
- Jungle safari
- Hot air Ballooning
- Lakeside camping
- Jeep rides
- Ice climbing
- Jungle walk
- Hang Gliding
- Polo tourism
- Night trek
- Bungee jumping
- Ice- hockey
- Horse polo
- Skiing / Heli – Skiing
- River rafting.
- Tribal treks
- Angling tours
- Adventure, fun day camps.
- Water and river rafting
- Waterfall trekking
- Tube slide
- Corporate tours.
- Snow and bike ATV ride
- Aquatic adventure activities- scuba diving, swimming, diving
- Filming and Documentary tours.
- Archeological short trek
- Nature and Wildlife tours.
- Educational tours.
- d) Other Inclusions:
The other inclusions of the trek are:
- All accommodation during the trek.
- Central trekking equipment.
- Necessary permits
- Staff insurance.
- First aid medical kits and oxygen cylinder
- Qualified and experienced trek leader, guide and support staff
- All permit fee, camping charges, forest levy required for the trek.
- Excellent Trekking Guide, who will be a local to this particular area and has profound knowledge of the trekking trails around.
- Kitchen / dining / toilet tents as required during the trek.
- Camping equipment like Sleeping bag, carry mattress, Gaiters, Micro spikes/Crampon. (Bring your own sleeping if you have a high altitude specific personal Sleeping Bag. This is always better for hygienic reasons.)
- Specialized Cook, Support staff, Porters/Animals for carrying the central logistics of the trek.
- Accident Insurance Policy covering high altitude trekking tours (For Indian nationals it is included in the TREK FEE, up to 60 years of age).
- Any kind of personal expenses.
- Transportation from Kathgodam to Lohajung and back to Kathgodam (Presently around Rs.1500 – 1800 per persons both ways for the pickup and drop).
- Any meals during stay in Lohajung.
- Any expenses incurred due to any unforeseen circumstances / events.
- Mules or porter to carry personal luggage.
- Anything not specifically mentioned under the head.
- Any tip/gratuity to the supports staffs.
Lohajung can be reached by either air, train or road.
The Jolly Grant airport, Dehradun is the nearest airport that is 195 Kms away from Lohajung. There are daily flights that connect all major metros and cities like Lucknow, Patna, Raipur, Srinagar and Madurai. Alternatively, Pantnagar airport is the second nearest airport that is 34 Kms away. Delhi is well connected with Pantnagar airport.
The nearest railheads are Rishikesh (260 Kms) and Haridwar (285 Kms) with a travel time of 7 – 8 Hrs.. In case trekkers cannot reach these two railheads Kathgodam is the second nearest railhead that is 210 Kms away from Lohajung. Travelers can avail taxis / jeeps from the railheads to Lohajung.
There are lot of buses from ISBT Delhi-Anand Vihar – The distance is around 500 Kms – However, due to heavy traffic congestion the travel time will be around 20 Hrs. Bus journey is not recommended. Lohajung is well connected to Rishikesh and Dehradun. There are lot of taxis to Lohajung to these destinations. Lohajung takes around 260 Kms from Rishikesh.
Some of the basic essentials recommended are:
- Comfortable footwear
- Comfortable warm clothes
- Insect repellent
- Gloves(inner fleece, water proof)
- Snow/ normal gloves
- A 60 liters backpack, with plastic or water proof lining.
- Jackets or sweaters
- Ruck sack bags
- Mycoderm powder and Glucon-D powder
- High ankle trekking shoes with good grip.
- Warm T-shirts(full sleeve)
- Light micro fleece pullover
- Waterproof trekking pants
- Windproof/water resistant jackets
- Sleeping bags
- Down / Fleece jackets
- Backpack with water proof linings.
- Thick fleece
- Trekking pants
- Full sleeve woolen pullover / Sweaters
- Thermal inner wear/bottoms
- Woolen cap
- Thick woolen socks and regular socks
- Bandara scarf/muffler (optional)
- Hiking / trekking shoes with a thick sole
- Trekking poles.
- Gore-Tex jackets
- Walking stick
- Cotton socks/sneakers
- Water purification filters
- Towel/ small / Camp towel/ sarong
- Duffel bags down/ synthetic camp booties
- Headlamp/flashlights with extra batteries
- Insulated water bottle
- Hydration pack
- Sun glasses/ goggles.
- Sunscreen Lotion
- Skin ointment
- Swiss army knife
- Sun hat/ baseball cap
- Video camera.
- Extra passport photos
- One liter water bottle wide open mouth
- Wind and rain gear with hoods
- Money pouch/ belts
- Extra polythene bags.
- Note book with pen and pencils
- Energy bars and drinks.
- Mobile charger and power banks
- Lip Balm
- Torch / Flashlight (with extra batteries)
- One pair cotton trousers or shorts
- Personal toiletries
- Personal medication
- Wet wipes (tissues and wipes) in the mountains is not advisable since these are not biodegradable, sanitary pads should be carried in a Ziploc bag and after using them dispose them after coming to the city.
- Wardrobe essentials like woolen and fleece clothes, synthetic or waterproof track pants, rain-proof jackets, sunglasses, waterproof gloves, wind-proof jackets, thermal inner wear.
- Travelers should carry a spoon, lunchbox and coffee mugs with them. If needed they can also bring their own cutlery set with them for hygienic reasons.
- Carry few extra plastic bags for wet clothes.
- Medications for common ailments:
- Diamox- To prevent acute mountain sickness
- Dexamethasone- One strip
- BP tablets as necessary
- Crocin- for fever
- Vitamin tablets for energy
- Avomine- to prevent motion sickness
- Avil- for allergies
- Combiflam- Painkiller
- Disprin- Headaches
- Norflox TZ and Lomofen- Diarrhoea
- Digene- for acidity
- Omez/ rantadine- antacids
- Crepe bandage- 3 to 5 meters
- Guaze- 1 small roll
- Band aid- 10 strips
- Cotton- 1 small roll
- Oral Rehydration solution fluids- 10 packets
- Betadine or any antiseptic cream
- Moov spray (aches and sprains).
The ISBT Anand Vihar, Delhi has lot of buses to reach Lohajung. There are two routes to reach Lohajung one goes through Haridwar/ Rishikesh and the other goes through Kathgodam.
- The route through Haridwar: Delhi-Haridwar-Rishikesh-Sri Nagar-Karnaprayag-Tharali-Dewal-Lohajung-Wan Village and is 505 km – 20 hours.
- The second route goes through Haldwani: Delhi-Haldwani-Kathgodam-Almora-Gwaldam-Tharali-Dewal-Lohajung-Wan Village and takes 529 km – 20 hours. (Both the routes have high traffic congestion and hence bus travel is not recommended.)
- There are lot of taxis / cabs from the Almora -Kasauni- Gwaldam -Dewal- Mundoli that goes to Lohajung.
- There are also shared jeeps/ taxis from Dewal – Lohajung that is only 17 km (to reach the Roopkund trek) as Lohajung is the base camp for the Roopkund trek.
- There are also shared jeeps from Wan- Lohajung that takes 15 km.
- The distance between Lohajung and some of the destinations are as follows:
- Kathgodam – Lohajung: 222 km
- Rishikesh – Lohajung: 260 km
- Karnaprayag – Lohajung : 88 km
- Dehradun – Lohajung :310 km
- Haridwar – Lohajung: 276 km
- Lohajung is the main base camp for all Garhwali treks, in case travelers want to travel alone with their families they can rent cars from the Haridwar Taxi Service Association, and they have different packages and travelers can hire cars from here.
Some guidelines to follow are:
- Climatic conditions in the high altitudes differ from those of that in the plains hence, trekkers should take enough time to get themselves acclimatized to the high altitudes.
- This package has two variations.
- The one with transport includes a pick and drop from Kathgodam to Lohajung and then back to Lohajung is the starting point of the trek, trekkers who do not want to avail transport facilities will have to reach Lohajung on their own.
- Listen to the Guide’s instructions and follow the guidelines given by him for a safe, smooth and enjoyable trekking experience and to prevent mishaps.
- Refrain from consuming alcohol or any other intoxicants during the course of the trek.
- Do not bring any sort of non- biodegradable materials.
- Trekkers should always keep themselves hydrated.
- Medical certificate from the Himalayan trek is mandatory.
- Drinking, smoking and consumption of illicit substances, is avoided, and buying of any illegal substances is strictly prohibited, if any trekkers are found carrying these items they will be detained, fined with penalties and might have to undergo police investigation if needed.
- During extreme snowfall, carry goggles to prevent blindness from the bright reflection of the sun’s rays.
- Carry sugar and energy bars to keep the sugar levels balanced and ensure that they do not drop.
- Carry matches, spray or deodorants to keep away from the danger of wild animals.
- Carry identification proof.
- Dress modestly while visiting temples.
- Avoid carrying snacks and junk food
- Travel in small groups.
- For extra porters, an extra fee should be paid, per paid per day to avail their services, and to carry the personal belongings throughout their trek.
- In case trekkers prefer their own sleeping bags they can buy new sleeping bags from the store.
- One can even opt for personal trekking gear and an extra oxygen at an additional cost.
- Dispose wastes properly.
- Respect local cultures and be sensitive towards the wildlife.
- General precautions and steps should be taken for altitude acclimatization, with the assistance of the trek guides.
- Those having complications like heart disease, diabetes, breathing problems, high altitude sickness or is pregnant cannot participate in this trek.
- Always pack light and carry only the essentials
- Do not use disposable plastic water bottles, plastic-wrapped items
- Do not roam and trek during nights.
- Consult a physician to know whether the individual is fit enough to undertake the trek.
- Do not litter the local sites or campsites as the whole trek takes place through eco- friendly zones.
- Physical and mental preparation is essential, be ready to trek in high altitudes. Trekkers should be ready to trek in high altitude terrains and face rough weather and trek in harsh climate.
- Trekking crew is essential since they may help in dealing with any sort of emergencies that arise on the way.
- Getting a proper insurance is necessary and it should cover medical rescue evacuation in case of emergencies. It is advisable to have safety backup like oxygen pressurize altitude chamber in emergency cases.
- To prevent frostbites from extreme freezing temperatures, wear proper trekking boots and socks to keep warm.
- Always carry a couple of pairs of thermal innerwear.
- Avoid wearing more than one pair of socks to have good blood circulation.
- Wear track pants instead of denim jeans.
- Vision and contact lenses- A spare will help in case the one in use is damaged.
- Suture Kit- Kit is for use by local health care providers and requires a letter from the doctor on a letterhead stationery.
- Medical / Clinical Items:
- Syringe Kit- ( for diabetics)
- Medical alert tags, necklace, bracelets ( for emergency identification)
- Antifungal ointments
- Insect bite ointments
- Bandages- Multiple sizes, adhesive tape and gauze
- Moleskin or molefoam for blisters
- Elastic compression bandage wrap for sprains and strains.
- Disposable gloves
- Digital thermometer
- Scissors and safety pins
- Eye drops
- Cotton swabs
- Oral rehydration drops
- Health insurance cards and policy waiver.
- Proof of yellow fever vaccination – If in case the trip needs travelers to take completed International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis card or medical waiver.
- Copies of all prescriptions- Be sure to have copies of all prescriptions that have generic drug names. Also, carry prescriptions for eyeglasses/ contact lenses and other essential medical supplies.
- Photo Identity ID card, PAN, Driving License, Voter ID (better to carry copies for submission to any higher authorities).
- Disclaimer form to be duly filled and signed by a certified trek leader.
- Contact details
- Travelers must carry cards having contact numbers and e- mail-id of their friends/ relatives in case of any emergencies.
The best time to visit the Roopkund Trek is between May-June as the temperature is warm and pleasant with clear and sunny skies or just before the monsoons.
Winter (December – Mid March):
The winter season receives heavy snowfall. The day temperature is between 10*C-15*C and in the night it drops to -7*C. The entire region is inaccessible – hence this is not a good time for visit.
Monsoon (July – September):
This season has heavy rainfall, and the roads are blocked. This season is also prone to risk of landslides and other natural calamities. Not a favorable time for trekking.
Summer (May – June):
During this time the temperature is warm, pleasant and salubrious. The temperature ranges between 20*C-25*C in the day with cool winds, sunny and clear skies. The temperature drops to -7*C at night. The Himalayas are clearly visible during this season and the meadows come back to life freshly and are greener. Good time to visit.
Autumn/ Spring (October – November):
During this time the temperature is warm and pleasant between 15*C-20*C. Many colorful flowers – Crocus, Dahlia, Nerine, Sternbergia, Cyclamen Hederifolium, Winter Aconite, Snowdrop, Cyclamen Coum, Gladiolus Murielle, Rhododendrons, Orchids and Roses are in full bloom. Presents an eye catching view all around!. Panoramic views of mountains, sunrise and sunset are some unforgettable experiences. Pastures of lush green meadows and the glacial lake of Roopkund and Pindari are clearly visible with dreadful views of human skeleton beneath the lake! Yet another good time for a snow trek!
If you want the experiences like that of a ‘Crime Thriller’ , a trip that challenges physical fitness but rewards with mesmerizing glacial lake of Roopkund then this is the right trip you have been waiting for! Truly, Himalayas provide a life time experience and never before seen sights which endlessly enthralls every one!
1. What’s the mystery behind all the skeletons found in Roopkund?
a) Roopkund Trek, in Trishul range of Himalayas- Situated in Uttarakhand is a frozen lake trek. This is not so well known because of the human skeletons found at the bottom of the lake and the surrounding area. At present only few skeletons remain undamaged, and the rest of them are collected or stolen by persons who come to visit this region. The area is thinly populated and is located at an altitude of 5029m above sea level. Apart from skeletons wooden things, iron articles, slippers made with skin and ornaments are also found here.
- First Theory: Researchers and scientists believe that the skeletons are remains of the people killed in a violent and brutal hailstorm during the 9th-10th century. 70-80% of the people had a close lineage with Iranian people and the rest were local villagers. Theories believe that the Iran group of people were willing to settle in any new land but were surrounded by this violent hailstorm and died.
- Second Theory: The British Administrators believe that these are the remains of the secret Japanese invasion, but later it was found that these skeletons were too old, to be characterized as Japanese soldiers.
- Third Theory: According to the local people Maharaja of Kanauji Jansdhaval, with his pregnant wife Balampa, their servants, a dance troupe and others went to visit Goddess Nanda Devi Shrine, and large blocks of snowstorms killed the whole group and everyone were frozen near the Roopkund Lake area.
- Fourth Theory: Scientific tests from an excursion undertaken in 2004, say that these skeletons were related to large groups of people, (short and tall) who closely resembled the Chitpavans Brahmin sect of Konkan region.
- Reliable Theory: Researchers say that the remains belong to a group of state pilgrims and local porters and dated sometime back to 850- 900 AD. These skeletons were belonging to two major groups: one clan taller in height and the other relatively shorter.
- These people died because of some fatal incidents of stone throw and solid rock material at the back of their heads. The death was not due to any injury or hurt caused by weapon or other natural calamities (avalanche/ landslides). These sharp marks say that a round circular object (leather ball) smashed their heads, which fell from mountains and clouds.
- In this event most of the people died of fatal consequences and the others got frozen due to extreme snow.
- This mysterious lake captures the attention of all people and is surrounded by rock strewn glaciers and snow clad mountains. This lake is two meters deep and it is favorite destination for all trekkers and there are lot of skeletons found here in the 19th century.
- There is a rumor that the skulls were of General Zorawar Singh and his men who had lost their way in the middle of the Himalayas, after they got caught in the bad weather while coming back from the battle of Tibet in 1841.
- Scientists believe that these skeletons of 200 persons found near the frozen lake belonged to the people of 9th century Indian Tribe who died in a hailstorm.
- There are evidences backing the scientific data, locals believe that the most famous and common story is the one of the angry Goddess.
But still this place is one spot where mystery remains unsolved and is full of myths- all that one can say about this place is it is a ruthless place. But one who is passionate about adventure will say that it is definitely a good place for trekking. When the glacial snow melts one can see lot of skeletons hidden behind them.One can see the mystery of this skeleton lake unfolding here, still with some unresolved questions: “Who killed those people, perhaps at that height ‘what killed them’?
2. How difficult would be a trek to Roopkund Lake for someone who has not trekked before in the Himalayas?
a) The Roopkund Trek, is difficult for novice trekkers and the difficulty depends on the awareness, fitness, luck, experience and weather. One requires self-planning and mental preparation. This trek can be undertaken without a guide. One needs to have some backup plans in case of some unforeseen events on the way. The Roopkund Trek is at an altitude of 5000m and adding to this is the high altitude mountain sickness that can occur. Additionally rains or snow can make the trek more difficult. This is not a technically complicated trek. One should be well-versed with the route, landscape and terrain and study it in detail prior to departure. Physical fitness is a key before undertaking this trek. In order for trekkers to acclimatize to the high altitude the following factors are essential:
- Drink Lot Of Water: Drink at least 4 liters per day apart from other fluids such as tea/ soups.
- Refrain from consuming alcohol, tobacco and other drugs that can decrease oxygen supply to the body.
- Eat high Carb-foods within small intervals.
- Don’t exert too much and walk at slow and medium pace.
- Have a proper exercise (jogging, walking, running) schedule atleast 1 hour and 3 months prior to the commencement of the trek.
- Flex the muscles, tendons and ligaments and exercises like stretching, relaxing and squats, building the quadriceps is essential for trekkers before they undertake this challenging trek.
- If trekkers feel signs of discomforts- nausea, loss of appetite, headache, vomiting immediately report to these to the trek leader.
- Try doing other treks to gain adequate expertise and always go with a reputed trekking agency and guide.
- Choose packages of these treks that have small group of people than going with a large group since there are chances of being left behind.
- Carry light weight woolen clothing and appropriate trekking gears.
With all the above precautions this trek should be enjoyable.
3. Which trek is better Roopkund or Har-Ki-Dun?
a) Har-Ki-Dun and Roopkund Trek both are beautiful and offer splendid views of Himalayas.
The Roopkund Trek has the following features:
- It is situated at an altitude of 15,800 feet.
- The route is full of greenery of Bendi and Ali Bugyal that are two best and long stretched meadows.
- There are unknown and mysterious stories about skeleton of human buried underneath.
- The trekking trail is moderate, with a few steep climbs on the way. The rest of the route is relatively flat and easy.
- The route is less crowded and there are less water sources on the way.
- Around 400 feet beyond Roopkund, lies Roopkund-Junargali. Trekkers can get beautiful views of the Trishul mountain ranges from here.
- The Har Ki Doon Trek:
- It is located at an altitude of 14,500 feet.
- This is one of the most appealing valleys in the Western Himalayas and has mixed trails passing through a number of villages, forest and meadows.
- There are lot of local stories and myths.
- This is mostly a flat trail.
- The route is more crowded and there are plenty of water resources on the way.
- Beginners and experienced trekkers find this trek easy. One can find the Maninda Lake, on the route towards the Badaku pass.
Both the treks have both are equally beautiful, delightful and enjoyable that gives unforgettable and memorable experiences of a lifetime.
4. When is the best time to do Roopkund Trek?
a)This is the most mysterious treks in Himalayas and is most famous for human skeletons lying at the bottom of the lake and is distinctly visible when the snow melts.The best time to visit the Roopkund trek, depends upon whether trekkers want to enjoy trekking on the snow and the variety of vegetation(which passes through Bendi Bugyals) that Roopkund offers. For snow May-June end is the best time and it is an adventurous trek on snow to reach the lake. One can see the Brahma Kamal, during September. In the months of May-June one can get the clear views of bugyals and the skeletons. In case trekkers go in September then the Dayara Bugyals would be browner and beautiful sight to see. Towards the end of September, there will be a lot of snow on the trek. There lake is fully frozen during this time. The day temperature is 13*C-18*C and the night temperature falls to -7*C. But overall if one wants to see the variety of vegetation September is the right time as this season is peaceful and relatively less crowded. To conclude the months of April-June and September- November would be an ideal time to get splendid views of mountains with cool breeze and pleasant weather that is just relaxing and refreshes the mind, body and soul.
5. Is it advisable to go for Roopkund trek in (skeleton trek) monsoon (considering chances of landslides)?
a) Roopkund trek is not advisable to be undertaken in monsoon. One might visit this place during June – initially the trek might sound fun but as it rains severely in Bedni Bugyal, the trekkers have to stay back at Bedni Bugyal and might have to shift to the camp set up by the forest department. Sometimes, all one has is about 30 minutes to descend safely, and one may not be able to complete the trek. No one will get such kind of experiences. This trek does not have any landslide zones as such but here rains are a big problem that will irritate trekkers on and off. Sometimes there are flash floods that occur in months of July so make sure that a visit during this month will need a contingency plan of three days with you. They will always come handy. The National and State highways are fully blocked during this season. So the best time to visit Roopkund would be between April-May or post monsoon (September-Early October). In monsoon Roopkund experiences worst flash floods so much that it is even impossible to reach the base camp of Lohajung, floods are extreme with high wind speeds and monsoon is a bad time to trek as they start during June end extends till late July. There are cloud bursts in Lohajung and it rains constantly. Chances are there for dark clouds looming large over the trekking trail which might result in poor visibility – impossible to see the view 10 meters ahead, and many of the snowcapped mountains.
6. What will be the total expense for a Roopkund trek?
a) These depend on several factors – one is the tour operator which trekkers prefer. Some expensive tour operators charge around Rs. 13K(if one is going alone). One can bargain if the travelers are travelling in a group for charges in the range of Rs. 5K – Rs.10K. Transportation (rail, air, and road) is another key factor that will determine the overall cost and will depend lot more on that because of the various packages available from either Kathgodam or Lohajung. Apart from these, there are things like trekking equipments that one needs if one is going for a high altitude trek for the first time. If one is a regular trekker having all basic things then all the expenses will be below Rs. 20K. . Adding to all these if the traveler is a first time trekker it will surely cost more than Rs. 12K of trekking equipment additionally. One more option is going on your own without a travel agency the cost will be less by about Rs. 7 K per person I Haldwani-Roopkund-Haldwani route. Haldwani is very near to Kathgodam and one can have more fun and enjoy a lot if they are going on their own. Expenses are inclusive of food and accommodation. From Bhagwasa that is the base camp for Roopkund trekkers can join some other early morning group of people leaving for Roopkund and come back to Bhagwasa. Rest can be managed on their own. The trek leaders have their own set of knowledgeable and well experienced local guides to assist the trekkers in the mountains and make them feel comfortable with the surroundings. This will additionally cost Rs. 10K (including- Food, accommodation, trekking equipments, transportation, permits, and services of an expert guide). The rough break up cost of the trekking equipments are:
- Shoes: Rs 2,500
- Trek Pole: Rs 700
- Wind and Water Proof Jackets: Rs 4,000
- Trek Pants: Rs 1,500
- Bag Packs: Rs 3,300
- Other gears and personal items: Rs 2,000/-
Besides, considering shared jeeps cost Rs.3K the total expense would be at a minimum around Rs.20 K. The charges may be subjected to revision. All the best for the trekkers undertaking this trek.
[The costs indicated are as of January, 2018 and trekkers are suggested to check the actual before the trip]
7. Is it worth going for a solo trip/trek to Roopkund?
a) Definitely going on a solo trip/ trek to Roopkund is worth for trekkers who love challenges and are adventurous. The mountains, greenery, deep valley, snow tents, narrow tents and tea stalls will imprint loads of memories. One can interact with the locals, talk to strangers, make new friends and enjoy your own company. Enjoy the beautiful views of sunset and click some selfie’s. Trekking solo will help to adapt and make the traveler learn new things. This also makes the individual physically and mentally strong. The enthusiasm of preparing everything on one’s own and accomplishing high altitude is definitely exciting and has a thrill of its own. Some tips that one should keep in mind when going for a solo trip/ trek (Roopkund) are:
- Start with short treks: Choose a small package (2 day) and the guide will have a fair idea of the itinerary. As one gains expertise the duration can be increased to 3 days. The more one treks the more they become efficient and also they will realize over time that your gear is lighter on your longer treks than it was on the first day.
- Be Fit: Every trek needs some basic level of fitness, trekkers walk long distances on unfamiliar terrains. There could be rocky and steep paths, river crossings and snow. Solo trek requires greater amount of fitness. All the burden falls on ones one head right from setting up camps, carrying water from sources, digging of cat holes, cooking and cleaning the place once they are done. They need to be mentally and physically strong and this can developed by gaining endurance through a sustained fitness routine. Read about the fitness level required for trek well in advance and work towards it.
- Have knowledge of health and first aid: Trekkers should attend a short course in Basic Life Saving and First Aid (BLS and BFA) that is only for 3 days that is conducted in hospitals. One should carry basic medication and first aid kit and take help of a doctor in knowing about which are the medications to carry if one is unsure. In case one is going on a high altitude trek they should be aware of the acute mountain sickness, HAPE (High Altitude Pulmonary Edema) and HACE (High Altitude Cerebral Edema),lack of this can be disastrous and one must educate oneself before going for high altitude treks.
- Procure the Right Gear: Apart from backpacks and shoes one also needs a tent, stove and a sleeping bag. If trekkers are a little concerned about fending from their pockets they can buy these for rents. There are lot of agencies that give sleeping bags, backpacks, tents and stoves on rent at reasonable prices. Even in case they buy the equipment the subsequent treks will become a lot cheaper they have everything that is needed. Apart from just buying a renting gear one should know the techniques of using it, and there is no person who can tech this to you apart from the person who sells it.
- Develop some cooking skills: Practice cooking easy dishes- noodles, pasta, and soup. These are quick to cook and light to carry in the bags. Practicing this give them an idea about the exact ratio and quantity that is to be served for each person. Buy a stove and practice cooking on it to get comfortable and confident while on trek. Practice on the terrace or in an open ground for getting a real trek simulation like experience.
How to be a responsible solo trekker:
A solo trek is very challenging and exciting, it has its own responsibilities at the place one is trekking. One has to be more careful and conscious about the environment than in an organized trek. You should make decisions about a lot of things that you would otherwise presume it for granted- right from selecting campsite to waste disposal. Some essentials are:
- Carry as little plastic as possible: Bring back whatever waste the trekkers create, including eggshells.
- Looking for existing campsite: Do not change a site to create a new one.
- Avoid Campfires: Try to minimize the use of uncontrolled fire.
- Do not wash clothes: Clothes, utensils should not be washed directly inside a water body. Carry water at least 100-200 ft away from the sources.
- For human waste disposal, dig a cat hole: Dig a cat whole at least 6 inches and 100 feet away from any water body, trail or campsite. Once trekkers are finished using it they should cover it up fully with mud. Disguise it by placing leaves or twigs as a mark to prevent other trekkers from stepping on it.
- Leave behind anything that you find on the trail: Do not carry things from their natural habitat as souvenirs.
- Maintain silence: Maintain silence in the vicinity and do not disturb or provoke wildlife or other trekkers.
These are the essentials in order to enjoy a solo trek, choosing to go on a solo trip/ trek depends upon the travelers.
8. Is November good for the Roopkund trek?
a) It is definitely possible to trek Roopkund in November, initially it will be hard, but one should be mentally and physically strong. It is difficult to go through any agency as they conduct treks from September-October. So at this time local porters can be hired for lesser cost.The routes will be free of crowd as they can enjoy the trek and capture photographs as one likes. Just one should carry basic medications, food and most importantly the camping equipment. The trek routes will be relatively free. In winters it is not possible to trek to Roopkund, and climbing Junargali in winters is definitely possible.There are no continuous snowfalls, but it will be cold and proper clothing should be taken to beat this. It might be a bit tough to find porters so one might need an extra day to make arrangements. Taking mules/horses will not be a feasible idea during this time. Even though there is not much snowfall in November, the walking might get a little slower on soft snow especially after Baghuabasa. Trekkers should be prepared for long tiring walks, or to set up an intermediate camp after Baghuabasa. In case trekkers are not technically sound, they might hire a well experienced guide for this route. Trekkers can visit the Kalu Vinayak temple, on their return from Bagubasa. One can surely visit this place during the first week of November- it will be difficult but manageable.
9. Can I attempt a Roopkund trek without adequate preparation?
a) These days trek routes are becoming more busy and crowded and most local and international tourists find the right treks that suit them. Trekking in the Himalayan region gives its own spirit to the mind, body and soul. The following are essential that will harmonize the beauty and make the holiday more memorable.
- Area: Before selecting any trek trail or trekking route, you must gather details on the area. This will help trekkers to kick start their journey and make it more memorable.
- Altitude: Generally one should assess the altitude level of trek routes and the difficultylevel. These range between easy-difficult. The Roopkund trek is classified as a difficult trek.
- Accommodation: Generally while selecting any trek Har Ki Dun or Roopkund one should check for the accommodation arrangements from the tour agency. The Roopkund trek is a beautiful attraction for trekkers on this route, this is one trek where trekkers feel elated and makes them to again back in future. Lush green valleys, deserts and mountains and other natural delights makes this trek amazing and memorable.
- Get prepared with short treks first: Before undertaking this trek, one should go for weekend treks and see whether any sort of knee injury affects them. They should start running for long distances and if they are not having any sort of pain then the Roopkund trek is a perfect trek to think of.
- Physical fitness: The Roopkund Trek often involves climbing for long distances and trekking long routesso think twice and if trekkers still think they need practice they should postpone their plan.They can go on 5k run less than 30 minutes, and at this point if they are fit enough to go they can undertake this trek. But it is advisable to consult a doctor if the individual is having a knee injury as there is lot of climbing involved in Roopkund. One can try going for short jogging and sprints if the pain still persists in the knees.
Considering all the above factors one cannot attempt a Roopkund trek without adequate preparation.
10. How is the climate at Roopkund in May and June? Is there a chance to see snow?
a) The climate at Roopkund in May-June is pretty good, and is a good time for trekking. End of May is the best chance of seeing snow – once trekkers reach the final destination the scenic beauty will just attract them. The snow capped mountains and the beautiful lake is a treat to one’s eyes. After crossing The Kalu Vinayak temple (close to Bhagwabasa) the route is fully covered with snow till one reaches Roopkund. In the months of June one can trek to Roopkund as there are possibilities to see snowfall. If trekkers love snowfall and want a slightly more adventurous and difficult trek, then May-June is the right time to go for this trek. This season is the right time to go for this trek as trekkers can find huge amounts of snow.