Located in Uttarakhand, India, lies a glacial lake known as Roopkund, at an altitude of roughly 16,499 feet. While the placement of the lake makes it quite spectacular, it is actually what was found in the lake that makes it so peculiar. Some time during the late 19th century, explorers began to discover human skeletons around the edge of the lake. It was believed that these individuals perished from an epidemic, landslide, or blizzard. Carbon dating showed that the remains were from sometime between the 12th century and the 15th century.
However, in 2004, a team of Indian and European scientists visited Roopkund to further investigate the skeletal remains. As the team dug and excavated the area, they began to find jewelry, skulls, skeleton hands, and hundreds of bodies. Once the excavation was complete, the team had found more than 500 skeletal remains, most of which were well preserved in the glacial surroundings. The excavators believed them all to be from the same traveling group, or tribe.
Further investigation determined that the individuals had not perished from disease. A hailstorm, with hailstones the size of cricket balls, was the cause for all the deaths. The storm must have appeared suddenly and rained down shards of ice large enough to kill someone on impact. Since there is no shelter around Roopkund, it is evident that everyone, or nearly everyone, located around Roopkund during the time of the hailstorm perished.
There is no clear evidence pointing toward where the group was heading or why they were going there. Historical evidence shows that there were no trade routes around Roopkund. Some believe that the individuals were from the Nanda Devi cult, who were traveling to attend the Nanda Devi Raj Jat festivities. However, there currently is no historical information to back the belief.
These days, Roopkund is a popular tourist attraction, with its picturesque surroundings and beautiful views. Festivals are often held near the lake by the nearby villages. The largest festivity, the Nanda Devi Raj Jat, takes place once every twelve years. If you happen to be in need of a vacation, or simply wish to see the lake where 500 people died from monstrous hailstones, Roopkund is the place to go.