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Also known as the Mystery Lake, Roopkund is a glacial lake located at a breathtaking height of around 16,499 feet above sea level in the Chamoli district of Uttarakhand. The presence of numerous human skeletons, which can be seen in the lake when the snow melts, adds a tinge of mystery to the Roopund trek.
As you set out on the trek, you will encounter verdant green meadows or ‘Bugyals’, soaring snow-clad peaks, and lush dense forests. You can feast your eyes on the magnificent breathtaking views of Mt Trishul and Mt Nanda Ghunti as you make your way to Roopkund lake. Being one of the most famous sites for trekking in the Garhwal region, it is frequented by people from all across the world.
The starting point for this trek is Lohajung. Replete with rich biodiversity and picturesque surroundings, you can witness nature in its purest form here. It is a little difficult to traverse the curvy and winding roads which steadily gain altitude, but it will lead to an amazing feeling of accomplishment. After walking for around 6 km, you will reach a peaceful village in the district of Garhwal, called Kulling. Filled with natural beauty, this village offers a narrow concrete plain, cutting through houses and fields. While descending down the village and crossing the bed of Neel Ganga, you will come across a moderately steep road covered with a forest of rhododendrons and oak, that connects to the Didna village, situated at an altitude of 8000 ft.
The gorgeous village of Ali Bugyal is the next hamlet you will visit, which is one of the highest inhabited locations in the country.There are two trails from here – you can take either the right side of the trail or the left one. The trail on the right side is slightly ascending, and the trail on the left side is of a steeper nature. However, both sides lead to the same destination.
Moving ahead from here, the next location is Ghora Lutani. You will enjoy gorgeous scenic views as you trek upwards to reach your final destination. A steep altitude gain of around 12,500 ft to 14,500 ft, the long continuous walk, coupled with the high altitude of this location, will challenge you and demand a lot from you. Also, the effect of high altitude can make breathing difficult, but the amazing vista surrounding you will be there to inspire and rekindle the fun of trekking. After reaching the campsite, you can wrap up for the day and retire to relax for the night.
Next day, as you walk towards Bhagwabasa, the terrain seems to look rough and not so easy to traverse. Situated at around 14000 ft above the sea level, the road will take you across Kalyuvinayak temple, which is further 200 ft higher. It is suggested to walk slowly and carefully as the air gets thinner and the quantity of oxygen decreases.
The gift that awaits you at such a height is a look at the final trekking destination, Roopkund. With shining and sparkling Trishul on one side and bell-shaped Nandagunti on the other, the view is simply magnificent and enchanting. It is surely the highest point on the trek with an altitude of more than 16000 ft. Though the path is not that difficult to climb, even the 4 km walk can pull out every ounce of energy that you have and make you feel tired. After covering the hard and steep terrain, a lot of photographic opportunities will be waiting for you at the Nanda Devi temple. You cannot afford to miss this chance of capturing some warm memories with near and dear ones.
Before moving further, you can choose to acclimatise and rest for a day like most of the hikers do. Rest well before you start the reverse journey and celebrate the joy of enduring the perils involved in the trekking expedition to Roopkund. This trek requires a whole lot of determination and courage, however, sheer exhilaration and the thrill involved in reaching Roopkund will become your motivation to complete this trek.
The best time to do this trek is between May-June and between August – September. If you choose to go in May/June, you might not be able to see the skeletons as the lake will be thawed, but on the bright side, the verdant bugyals will take your breath away. However, if you choose to go after the monsoons, the lake will, in all probability, be frozen at the end of September, and you will be able to see why the Roopkund lake has an air of mystery surrounding it.