NewsUnearthing the chilling mystery: 800 skeletons in India's Himalayan lake reveal ungodly punishment

Unearthing the chilling mystery: 800 skeletons in India's Himalayan lake reveal ungodly punishment

Lake in the Himalayas
Lake in the Himalayas
Images source: © Getty Images | Sushil Bisht

10:36 AM EST, December 28, 2023

Stretching approximately 1553 miles in length and about 155 miles in width, the Himalayas are the longest and tallest mountain chain on Earth, so much so, they can be seen from space. They are home to 10 of the 14 peaks that surpass 8000m in height, attracting brave and daring climbers each year.

The discovery of skeletons in the Indian part of these mountains is not unprecedented, as many exploratory expeditions have tragically ended in death. However, the bone remains discovered were unusually located not within the mountain peaks, but deep down at the bottom of the Roopkund Lake. Researchers estimate around 800 people met their demise at this particular location. Let's explore this peculiar story.

An unresolved mystery: 800 human skeletons discovered at the Indian lake

Roopkund Lake presides at an impressive elevation of 14,875 feet within the Himalayan mountains. It takes a strenuous four-day hike to reach this place, making it a spot strictly reserved for seasoned and physically-inclined adventurers. In 2019, scientists decided to investigate the skeletal remains that were found here six decades prior.

Early studies indicated the presence of anywhere between 300 to 800 human remains resting at the bottom of the supposedly "cursed" lake. Upon investigating when this disaster was most likely to have occurred, researchers concluded it probably happened around the 800th year. Intriguingly, this discovery seems to be linked to a local legend that might bear some truth.

The legend tells of a Hindu king who angered the goddess Nanda Devi, resulting in a fierce drought sweeping across his dominion. In an attempt to appease the goddess, the king embarked on the demanding Nanda Devi Raj Yatra pilgrimage, one of the world's most challenging routes. Failing to heed caution, the defiant king brought along a group of servants and dancers, whom he ordered to perform around the reportedly cursed lake. Their audacious act infuriated Nanda Devi, who punished them with a deadly hailstorm that claimed the lives of all those present.

Every legend carries a grain of truth

Scientists have concurred that this local legend is quite plausible. The lake indeed lies on the Nanda Devi Raj Yatra route, and preliminary examinations revealed that the victims succumbed to injuries caused by an unidentified blunt object. Additional research discovered that the genes of 14 skeletons corresponded to individuals native to the Eastern Mediterranean.

The scientists puzzled over how these individuals ended up in such a far-off location. The researchers suggest, "They could have lived deep inland, eventually venturing to the Himalayas, where they ultimately met their demise. Whether they participated in the pilgrimage or were drawn to Roopkund for other undisclosed reasons remains a mystery, as stated in the study."

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