The year was 1942.
The world war was raging all over the world (except South America – not a single fuck was given over there).
Mr. H K Madhwal, a ranger in the Nanda Devi game reserve, was on his rounds.
He came upon a little lake called Roopkund. The lake remains frozen for 10 months a year. Since it was summer, it was full of water. He wanted to rest and freshen up a little so he went to the banks of the lake.
And got the bejeejus scared out of him!
The lake was full of dozens and dozens of human skeletons.
Once he got over his surprise (and presumably washed the stains from his pants), he reported the findings to the authorities.
To say that it piqued the interest of the authorities would be an understatement.
They did what authorities always do – they formed committees to solve the mystery.
Theories came thick and fast regarding the identity of the skeletons.
Since the World War was going on, the first thought was that the skeletons belonged to a Japanese invasive force.
But the skeletons were quite clearly very old. So the Japanese theory got disqualified.
Some attribute the bones to General Zorawar Singh of Kashmir, and his men, who are said to have lost their way and perished in the high Himalayas on their return journey after the Battle of Tibet in 1841.
But the skeletons were found to be even older.
Some historians linked the corpses to an unsuccessful attack by Mohammad Tughlak on the Garhwal Himalaya.
The king of Kanauj, Raja Jasdhaval, with his pregnant wife, Rani Balampa, their servants, a dance troupe and others went on a pilgrimage to Nanda Devi shrine, and then died in a storm with large hailstones.
Scientists were intrigued.
They started doing scientific stuff.
A team from National Geographic magazine retrieved some skeletons. Some still had flesh on them.
Scientists at CCMB, Tarnaka, Hyderabad did DNA analysis.
They reported that the skeletons belonged to different groups of people: 70% of the remains are related with DNA mutations characteristic for Brahmins from the western coast of India, 30% related to the locals.
Oxford University’s Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit performed radiocarbon dating of the bones. They determined the time period of the bones to be AD 850 ±30 years.
The researchers concluded that the death was due to a fatal blow on the back of their heads and not due to any wound by weapons, avalanche or landslide. The marks on their skulls and shoulders indicated at being hit by something round, like a cricket ball. The absence of injuries to other body parts indicated that hard round objects, possibly cricket ball sized hail stones or ice balls, fell from above.
So the skeletons are of people who died from big round balls sometime in the 9th century AD.
But as of yet, their identities remain a mystery.
Taking all that into consideration, I have reached the conclusion that there is only one possible explanation of this mystery.
The skeletons are of some Gujarati business people who went to the Himalayas to tap into the pilgrimage route and open the world’s first Patel General Stores. They had hired the locals as guides and porters.
Unfortunately, they stumbled upon and disturbed a slumbering group, who upon being rudely awakened, proceeded to barrage the victims with ice balls.
And who were these slumbering individuals?
The only possible explanation.
Of course, modern tourists being modern tourists, they have been steadily flicking the bones every year to take home as souvenirs.
Some still remain though.
You can go sometime in June and check them out.
How to go – Ranikhet – Garur- Gwaldam – Debal (1220 m) – Bagrigad (1890 m) – Mundoli village – Lohajung pass – Wan village (2590 m) – Bedni Bugyal (3660 m) – Baghubasa – Kalu Vinayak – Roopkund
Don’t tell me that India is not interesting.
Soon I will tell you about an abandoned and haunted city.