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The Beautiful, Eerie Skeleton Lake Of India Is Home To Hundreds Of Human Remains

Aug 24, 2018 11:14 PM EDT
Skeleton Lake, India
For years, travelers have wondered about the 300 or so human remains that perished in this remote lake in the harsh Indian Himalayas. The group of Iranian and Indian ancestry turned out to be killed by a hailstorm hundreds and hundreds of years ago.
(Photo : Schwiki | Wikimedia Commons | CC BY-SA 4.0)

In the Indian Himalayas, surrounded by snow-capped peaks and jagged glaciers, lies a quiet lake hiding an ominous secret: 300 skeletons resting in its depths.

The Famed Skeleton Lake

It's no surprise that the glacial lake is dubbed Skeleton Lake due to the ancient remains that lie just beneath the water of this eerie tourist destination.

Located 16,000 feet above sea level on the Himalayan mountains of Roopkund, India, the lake is truly a splendid sight. When the ice melts every year, visitors will be able to glimpse the human bones preserved at the shallow bottom.

According to Forbes, Skeleton Lake was officially discovered by a national park ranger in 1942. Roughly 300 individual bodies were found with some still having flesh attached to them. The bones, hair, and flesh were preserved due to the dry, freezing conditions. There were also some belongings recovered such as jewelry, clothing, and iron and wooden artifacts.

Years later, the questions remain: who are all these people and why did they perish in the Himalayas?

Some Theories Through The Years

Long before one ranger stumbled upon the sight of the skeletons, the story of the lake has been passed on for decades. There were a number of theories including landslides, epidemics, and even ritualistic suicides.

Local lore tells of an ancient goddess who's temper flared when a group of travelers passed by her territory and defiled her mountain sanctuary, says The Vintage News. In response, she flung iron-like hailstones toward the disrespectful people, which killed them instantly.

One of the first assumptions were that the bodies belonged to Japanese soldiers who passed by the mountains during the World War II. However, radiocarbon dating revealed that the skeletons were much older at about 850 A.D.

The Story Behind The Mystery Skeletons

The past decade or two have yielded a wealth of information through new technological advances.

DNA analysis unveil details on the identities of the bodies, revealing that there were two different groups of people: one of Iranian ancestry and another with local Indian ancestry. It's believed that the foreigners may have hired the locals as porters as they trek through the mountains.

As for cause of death, analysis say that all of the bodies were killed with blunt trauma to the top and back of the head. This strongly suggests that the group perished in a hailstorm that caught them vulnerable as they traveled across the Himalayas.

Interestingly, this means that the theory that came the closest to the widely accepted explanation is the legend of the ancient goddess.

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