Thursday, January 17, 2013

Mystery Of Skeleton Lake – Trekking To 16000 Feet Roopkund Lake In Uttarakhand

Nandaghunti from Roopkund Lake
You dig some snow and probably you find some skeletons. The mysterious frozen field is chilling, not just the weather alone, also because of the fact you see hundreds of skeletons scatter various places around the lake, situating more than 16000 feet above the sea level in a pin drop valley. The mystery behind Roopkund skeleton remains a mystery, but some investigations revealed that around 1200 years ago, a group of pilgrims lost their route in hail storming and buried alive in the snow, and the skeletons are relics of their lives.

It is pretty much real!
Needless to say, trekkers, curious hunks and adventurers from different part of the world trek to this rough terrain in various times of the year. I was told by one villager during my stay in Lohajang that one young fellow, son of an army personnel trekked to Roopkund alone and never returned back. Army searched the whole valley but not even his body was found anywhere. Several stories are revolved around this mysterious skeleton lake, but still daredevils find their way to Roopkund every year. 

The trek is beautiful, passing through some breathtaking landscapes and astounding beauty. The trail passes through exotic landscapes of Himalayas –oak trees, alpine meadows, green pastures and snow fields. It is a delight for a nature’s enthusiast and landscape photographers. You can almost touch the mighty Trisul (7120m) and Nandaghunti (6310m) from Roopkund.

How To Reach Roopkund

Bedni Bugyal en route
You can start your trek from either Lohujang or Wan. These two villages are accessible throughout the year from Rishikesh and Haridwar, except you have to leave two months of winter peak when things are frosty here. Wan is 25km far from Lohajung and technically the last village connected with the road. Lohajang to Wan you need to depend on private car or some local jeep because there is no public transport and road is abysmally bad.

Lohajung is however reached by either Kumaon or Garhwal side. If you are traveling from Delhi, Kumaon will be less hectic.

Skeleton antics in Roopkund
Reach Kathgodam by Kathgodam Express or another train (which leave you in station in the middle of the night), you can either a private taxi to Lohajung (around 5000 INR) or take a public transport and reach Gwaldom(6 hour). From there you need break the journey and go to Tharali (1 hour). Tharali lies on the bank of Pindar River and you need to break another one , and take jeep or local bus to Lohajung via Debal. (around 2 hours)

Alternative route is come to Rishikesh from Delhi (6 hours) and take a bus from Rishikesh around 5am to Lohajung. It is a hard one because it takes around 14 hours of tough journey winding through mountain roads. 

What I did, I took a shared jeep from Haridwar in the early morning to Gwaldom. Then took another jeep to Tharali and then hopped in a bus to Lohajung via Debal. If you take an early ride, you will get communication in this road. 

Where To Stay?

Life less travel by
You find only one hotel in Lohajung, but you can stay in your tent in the field. If you are late, it is advisable to take a halt in Debal where you get diminutive budget accommodation. While coming from Rishikesh, Karnaprayag and Srinagar are also good options for overnight stay. 

Roopkund Trekking Route & Essentials

If you are traveling with a trekking organizer, you don’t have to worry about permit issue. Otherwise, if you are with your own group or traveling solo, you need a permit from Forest Department. There are two routes to reach Roopkund:

Route 1 (4 days, 3 nights): Wan-Bedni Bugyal (12 km)- Patal Nachauni (5 km)- Kalu Vinayak (3 km)- Bhagwabasa (1 km)- Roopkund Lake (4 km)

Route 2 (6 days, 5 nights): Lohajung – Didina – Ali bugyal – Bedni Bugyal - Patal Nachauni - Kalu Vinayak - Bhagwabasa - Roopkund Lake.

Roopkund trail passes through some dense forests
Roopkund is absolutely a big NO without a guide. Even if you are traveling solo, take a guide from Lohajung, to ensure you won’t get lost in the forest and mountains. Roopkund is an extremely difficult trek for newbies and moderate for regular trekkers. It is best to visit the place during August-September, other May and June you will find difficulties in snow laden trail. If you are a smoker, leave the habit for one month or so, because above 5000m air is pretty thin and you might catch mountain sickness. 

Things To Carry In Roopkund Trek

  • Tent (preferably dome tent) – I had a bad experience with my alpine tent last time
  • Depending on the members of your group, (3-4 people)
  • 5kg Rice, 1kg salt, 1kg milk powder, Tea packets, 1kg sugar, 1kg oil, spices, biscuits, chocolates, multi-vitamins, glucose, food supplements, dry fruits etc.
  • Vegetable, kerosene oil, frozen meat, stove
  • Trekking accessories can be rented or bring your own like ice axe, crampons, ropes, sleeping bags etc.
  • Always carry a pair of extra shoes, raincoat, hunting knife and ropes

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  • Lela says:
    January 2, 2013 at 3:07 PM

    These photos are stunning! Saving this post for later travels :)

    Lela -

  • Stephanie Fox says:
    February 11, 2013 at 2:12 AM

    My sister loves trekking so I already know the essential things that a trekker must bring with him or her. She bought different colors of raincoats because she wants to look different in every occassion.

  • Barbara G. Heldt says:
    February 20, 2013 at 11:43 PM

    It must be nice to set up camp in those places. The view is majestic and breathtaking. Stars must be lovely to see there at night.

  • Celestine Browning says:
    March 24, 2013 at 7:19 PM

    The view is so amazing but I don't think I will be traveling there soon. I found those skeletons very creepy.

  • Soumik Das says:
    July 3, 2013 at 12:14 AM

    can any body knows the mobile no of Ghanashyam Singh BIsth, a guide for roopkund treak...

  • samir KHANDEKAR says:
    July 26, 2013 at 10:29 AM

    Hi...i am planning to start my trek on 1st you think i can do it without guide? Also carrying food items necessary? Please advice...thks

  • wacky wanderlust says:
    July 26, 2013 at 12:08 PM

    hello Samir,

    it is difficult to do trek without guide because the path is confusing and quite tough. also Roopkund trek requires a permit, and while getting permit you have to show your preparation for the trek. Moreover, September month is already a bit late,path is full of snow and in night you might face blizzard and strong wind. Better to take guide and necessary food items, tent, ponchos, waterproof bag cover etc.

  • samir KHANDEKAR says:
    July 27, 2013 at 1:27 AM

    Hi..thks for your reply..Can i get a guide after reaching Lohajang...if you have any contacts...i am planning to carry wildcraft tent, sleeping bag...say incase i dont get a guide are there markings n directions on trek trail like on everest base camp trek...Can you let me know standard guide rate which i should expect. Please advice..thks

  • wacky wanderlust says:
    July 27, 2013 at 6:50 AM

    Long time back I went to Lohajanj. I remember a guide, a young guy lives in rent there. drop to Lohajang and ask anyone for flour mill. Behind that mill, a small room is rented by this guy who knows every path there. he is always there when any bus stops in Lohajanj. I have his photograph with me, send your email id, i wills send it to you.

  • Chandra shekhar Sharma says:
    October 7, 2013 at 9:08 AM

    Can Any one give me any guide contact no to my contact no 8527661108

  • aman says:
    May 17, 2014 at 11:43 PM

    Are there any permits required? ???

  • aman says:
    May 17, 2014 at 11:44 PM

    Are there any permits required? ???

  • SHUBHAJIT says:
    May 22, 2014 at 8:32 PM

    permit is required. you can get permit from Lohajang

  • Pankaj Thakur says:
    March 14, 2016 at 2:12 AM

    Awesome Pics with informative content!!! Keep up the good work.Roopkund

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