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Everything You Need to Know About the Roopkund Trek

8 mins. read

Have you ever visited a trekking spot home to over 500 human and horse skeletons? This might sound spooky, but Roopkund Lake, also known as Mystery Lake or Skeletal Lake, is a high-glacial lake in the Indian state of Uttarakhand, which consists of hundreds of skeletons and skulls found around the lake. Roopkund Lake, lying on the lap of the Garhwal Himalayas, is hands down the most popular trek in India. The Roopkund Lake is located at a height of about 15,700 feet if you plan a Roopkund trek anytime soon. The lake is surrounded by rock-strewn glaciers and snow-capped mountains, making it an ideal trekking destination for Indians and international tourists. Roopkund trek is recommended for experienced trekking enthusiasts because of its moderate plus difficulty level. Along the Roopkund trekking route, you will get beautiful views of peaks like Kedarnath, Chaukhamba, Neelkantha, Trishula and Nanda Gunti.

It was way back in 1942 when a British forest guard stumbled upon hundreds of human skeletons scattered around Roopkund Lake. Since then, these skeletons have been the research topic for historians, anthropologists and scientists. Now the prime question arises: where did the skeletons come from, and what fateful day had seen the death of so many people and horses? Let’s read on to learn the mystery and folklore behind Roopkund Lake and the trekking route.

The Mystery Behind the Roopkund Lake Trek

Many theories exist about the skeletons and skulls around the Roopkund Lake trek. Some scholars believe the skeletons are of General Zorawar Singh of Kashmir and his troops returning after a failed attempt to conquer Tibet in 1841. Some scholars and researchers believe that the skeletons belong to the Japanese soldiers who died while crossing the Roopkund Lake during the Second World War. Of late, scientists also believe that the skeletons belong to people from the 9th century who might have died from hailstorms.

While scientists and researchers look into scientific facts and proofs to reveal the mystery of the Roopkund Lake trek, the locals around the area have their interesting folklore about the place. It is also believed that Goddess Parvati had killed the mighty demon Mahishasur near the Bedni Kund in her Kali avatar. After killing Mahishasur, when Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati were on their way to the Kailash Parvat, Goddess Parvati felt unclean and wanted to take a bath. To please her consort, Lord Shiva, with all his power, created the lake for the Goddess Parvati. The Goddess took a dip in the lake and could see her reflection in the blue waters of the lake. This is why the lake is known as Roopkund Lake, where Roop in the English language means beauty.

There is another mythological story which says that the king of Kanauj, his pregnant wife, dance troops, and servants was on their way to worship Goddess Nanda Devi. The kind was arrogant and forgot to offer his prayers to the Goddess. Displeased with his behaviour, Goddess Nanda Devi burnt three holes at the feet of the three dancers. Even then, the king did not come to his senses, which angered the Goddess even more. The king’s wife went through a miscarriage which took the lives of both the baby and the queen. Even after all this, the king continued his journey toward Roopkund with his troop. As they reached the lake, a hailstorm took the lives of the entire troop. It is believed that only the king survived the hailstorm. After this, Goddess Nanda Devi appeared before the king and cursed him that the people in his race must visit the lake once every 12 years barefoot with bare necessities. Since then, every 12 years, Nanda Raj Jat has been celebrated near Roopkund Lake.

Best Time to Plan Roopkund Lake Trek

There are two phases during which you can plan the Roopkund trek. One is between May to June, during which the temperature in the area ranges between 15 degrees to 20 degrees during the daytime and 7 degrees to minus 2 degrees during the night. The second phase of planning the Roopkund trek is between September to October. The temperature during this time of the year is comparatively cold, with temperatures ranging from 10 degrees to 15 degrees during the daytime and 5 degrees to minus 5 degrees during the night. If you can choose between these two phases, you know your best time to plan the Roopkund trek.

Roopkund Trek Itinerary

Roopkund Trek Itinerary

Out of the umpteen best trekking spots in India, the Roopkund trekking in Uttarakhand is challenging because of the landscape and altitude. Ideally, you must plan an 8-day long trekking trip to the Roopkund. The Roopkund trek distance is a total of 62 km, which can be covered in 8 days. The day-wise Roopkund trek itinerary is mentioned below for your convenience.

  • Day 1

Reach Kathgodam Railway Station and drive to Lohajung, which is the base camp of the Roopkund trek.

  • Day 2

Start your trekking journey from Loharjung and end at Didina. Another option for you is to reach Wan village by road. After crossing a steep slope, you reach Didina village, where you can rest for the night.

  • Day 3

On day 3 of trekking, start from Didina village to reach Ali Bugyal. Trekkers are advised to reach Ali Bugyal before noon to relax at night and start their next day fresh.

  • Days 4 and 5

You can start your trek from Ali Bugyal and reach Patar Nachuni. After this, just after 3 km lies Ghora Lotani, a campsite where trekkers rest for the night and start trekking to Bhagwabasa the next day.

  • Days 6 and 7

Trek towards Roopkund Lake is advisable to start early in the morning. The Roopkund trail is covered with snow, making it difficult for trekkers to walk. From Bhagwabasa, trekkers must climb uphill for approximately 3 km to reach Roopkund. On the way back, you will come across the Neela Ganga river. The climb to the ridge to reach back to Wan village takes approximately an hour or two. From there, you can drive back to Loharung by road.

  • Day 8

Finally, day 8 is the final day when you can drive back from Loharjung to Kathgodam.

Things to Keep in Mind


Before you pack your backpack for the Roopkund trek, here are some of the essentials you need to keep in mind.

  • Look for missing buckles and zips on your backpack that needs to be mended.
  • Check your trekking shoes properly. Make sure that the soles of your shoes are intact and the laces are strong.
  • Keep extra batteries for your camera and flashlight handy.
  • Make sure your backpack is waterproof. Pack your clothing and travel gear in a waterproof bag to keep everything dry.
  • If you are on some medication, carry those along with you.
  • Avoid packing a pair of jeans for trekking, and choose materials explicitly made for trekking purposes.

Parting Thoughts

We hope the detailed guide will help you plan a trekking trip to Roopkund Lake. Veena World has a variety of Uttarakhand packages for you to choose from. The packages range from budget-friendly to luxurious options, depending on your travel preferences. If you have planned a specific itinerary, you can choose to book your Roopkund trek from Veena World’s customised holiday option. Have a lifetime experience by visiting Roopkund Lake, which is not only adventurous but also filled with an abundance of beauty and charm.

December 10, 2022


Veena World
Veena World

We are an Indian travel company founded in 2013 and excel at domestic and international tour packages including guided group tours, specialty tours, customized holidays, corporate MICE travel, inbound travel and destination weddings.

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