In 1942, a local forest ranger named Hari Kishan Madhwal was hiking through the Himalayas when he stumbled upon a frozen lake. As he got closer, he saw something troubling in its waters - hundreds of human skeletons lying motionless at the bottom. Yep. Roughly 500 sets of remains were found 16,000 feet above sea level taking an eternal dip. But where did these bones come from? Who were these people? And how did they all die? Over the decades, Lake Roopkund in Uttarakhand, India, has been the subject of much speculation. Initially, it was believed the skeletons belonged to Japanese soldiers from World War II. But after careful analysis, experts realized the bones were much older than originally thought.
Recent studies date the skeletons back to 850 AD and reveal that they belong to three different groups of people: Southeast Asian, Indian and Eastern Mediterranean. (Perhaps it was an early-day G8 summit). Various theories have been thrown into the mix, such as epidemics, biblical smiting and hail. Yes, the most popular theory for a while was that of a horrifying hailstorm. Many of the bones show evidence of blunt force trauma, suggesting that the travelers were clonked to death with balls of ice. After all, there are very few weapons at the site and the area is prone to hail. But further carbon dating revealed that the remains are from different time periods. For example, the Southeast Asian remains date back to the 10th century, while the Eastern Mediterranean bones are from the 18th century. So if they weren’t all hanging out at the same time, why did they all die in the same spot? Truth be told, we still don’t know. The mystery of Lake Roopkund continues. Some suggest it was a popular graveyard (if you popped your clogs nearby, you were buried in the lake). Or it's just a really unlucky place to hike. Or maybe it's the Night King's army. Sweet dreams.
Image by Himalaya Trekkers