Roopkund, also known as the "Mystery lake" is situated at a height of 4900m above the sea level in the lap of the mighty Mt. Trishul. This lake is mysteriously surrounded by the human skeletons and the remains of horses. It is believed that these human skeletons are around 7 feet which is much bigger than an average human height. There are lots of theories about these remains but the one which is closest to the facts is that about 200 years ago a group of zealous pilgrims went on to the famous Raj Jat Yatra and perished near the lake due to the sudden climatic catastrophe. The Raj Jat yatra holds a very important religious, cultural and spiritual importance. This Yatra (Journey) starts from the Nauti village, situated in the Karnprayag with a setup where the golden statue of Goddess Nanda Devi is sheltered in a silver Palanquin. This yatra happens every twelve years and it is believed that a four horned ram is born for the occasionsomewhere in the area. This ram leads the pilgrimage from Nauti village to the rocky heights of the roopkund and ultimately to the Shrine of Goddess Nanda Devi, where it suddenly disappears. The base camp of Roopkund is Lohajung village.
This itinerary is for Lohajung to Roopkund. It does not include the driving time from the Kathgodam to Lohajung or any information regarding likewise. Also, the number of days depends upon the physical abilities of an individual as this trek is not a beginners trek and requires high grade of physical fitness.
There are two possible ways to initiate the trek from Lohajung.
Via Didna Village - There is no motor service available for Didna village and it is around 7 kilometers from Lohajung. Via Wan Village - Wan village is the preferable route for the trek and it is around 15 kilometers away from Lohajung. The motor service is available and one can rent a taxi from Lohajung. It takes around 30-40 Kilometers to reach Wan Village
Drive to Wan village and start your journey. Initially the trail is cemented and you would get to see small houses near the trail. As you would trek further you would see the trail bifurcates leading one of them to Roopkund and another one to the famous Latu Devta Temple. Latu Devta is the local deity and is believed to protect the local people here. Here in this temple you would see the tallest tree of Deodar in Uttarakhand. Worship here before moving on for a better experience. It would take you around an hour from here to reach another stop which is known as 'Ranka Dhar'. From here enjoy the alluring views of the valley. Trail get descended from here till another stop which is Neel Ganga. This is a picturesque location as it is located in under the dense forest with water flowing from the heart of it. Refresh your self and continue the journey to next stop which is Gharoli Patal.
Bedni Bugyal Campsite
The trail to Gharoli Patal is quite steep from Neel Ganga and chances are that you might get exhausted by the time you reach here.As you climb higher the forest keeps on getting denser. There is only one small 'Dhaba' (Small restaurant) between Neel Ganga and Gharoli Patal. It is a small camp location and for those who are travelling on there own are not suggested to stay here. If you are associated with some travel companies like India hikes or Trek to Himalayas this might be your first night stay during the trek. The ideal camp location is still further 2.5 k.ms away namely, the famous Bedni Bugyal. The incline increases even more from Gharoli Patal as you head to Bedni Bugyal. As you climb high the forest seems to vanish and the meadows start to begin. Bedni Bugyal is the highest meadows ground of Asia. This is the top of the mountain you have been climbing since morning and every bit of tiredness vanishes off once you reach here. Mobile Networks are only available at the particular spots in the area, so select your camp location accordingly. 3-4 Dhabas are available here. Enjoy the bonfire and give your body proper rest for the next day.
Note: The weather gets quite unpredictable after 2 PM in this region. So it is advisable to camp at Gharoli Patal if it is cloudy or it's rainy.
Patal Nachauni Campsite
Wake up early in the morning and prepare your self well with the proper essentials for the trek. Today's camp site would be Bhagwabhasa. Although it is not necessary to reach Bhagwabhasa on the same day as you have the option to camp at Patar Nachauni (which is yet another beautiful campsite 4 k.ms before Bhagwabhasa) but usually people travelling on their own don't prefer to stay here. From Bedni camp site the climb is quite easy upto the other side of the ridge and after that there is gradual descent till Patal Nachauni. It would take around 3 hours to reach Patal Nachauni and you would be less tired in comparison to the previous day of trek. The other side of the mountain is called the Patal valley and the views are breathtaking. After having your lunch or mid-day snack brace your self well for the ascent with comparatively higher incline angle. The trek gets very difficult during this phase as there is rapid growth in the altitude. The another small stop in this direction is small temple named Kalu Vinayak. Although, the distance is not that much between the two points but still zig-zag trail and steep trail makes it quite difficult. Complete this part of the trek very carefully because as you gain height the air gets thin. Physical affects get visible and you can feel breathlessness. The trail from the Kalu Vinayak is gentle descent of about 1.5 kilometers.
Bhagwabhasa is a rocky area where the vegetation is almost eradicated. Very less greenery could be seen and the campsite is totally different from Bedni Bugyal. Only 2-3 Dhabas are available. As told earlier this place is rocky and you don't have much of an option for the ideal campsite. Major campsites are already pre-occupied by the travel companies and if you are travelling on your own then you will have to make an extra effort for the campsite. The nights are quite chilly and the temperature drops around -5. It gets very uncomfortable to spend the night in the tent due to temperature and all you can do is just lay down there to give your body the proper rest. From here the majestic Nanda Ghunti and Mt. Trishul are visible and evening can be quite tempting if the sky is clear. Also, The Milky Way is clearly Visible at night provided the sky is clear.
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Human Skeletons seen near Roopkund
This is a very Important day in your trip because today you would be climbing the summit. Start early morning around 2:00 am. It is the most difficult part of the trek because temperature is quite low and so is the vsisiblity during the night. So to be on a safer side tag along with some group or a guide if you are a first timer. Roopkund is around 3 kilometers from the Bhagwabhasa and air gets even thinner as you climb high. So keep on taking rest during the climb. Initially it would be a gentle walk in the direction of Roopkund but as you go further the trail would get steep and zig-zag. The fine layer of snow would make it even more difficult to climb. You won't be able to see The famous lake of Roopkund till last minute because it is a dip at the cusp of the mountain. The view of the lake and surrounding area is astounding and would snatch all pain out of your body. Around 500m above Roopkund is the ridge of the mountain which is also known as Jyuragali.
View of Nanda Ghunti from Jyuragali
Do not try to attempt this part on your own if you are not an experience trekker. Although it is worth an attempt to Jyuragali because of the view which you would get of Nanda Gunti and The majestic Mt. Trishul but there is no specific trail for Jyuragali and you have to make your own way for it. From, Roopkund trekkers normally trace their way back to Wan- Lohajung. But they also have the option of extending the trek to Hom Kund Via Jyuragali and proceed on to the other side of the mountain range to Ghat, which is the motor head on the other side. The trek from Roopkund to Hom Kund is difficult and should not be attempted without proper planning, equipment and guiding help.
Back To Bedni: After spending the time of your life start the return journey to Bhagwabhasa. Getting down from Roopkund is quite tricky and difficult and it requires a proper control over the body while heading down. The trail is slippery but and you need to step carefully on the snow patches because by the mid morning the snow gets iced and becomes slippery. However, with time it gets progressively easier for you. It would take you around 1.5 Hours to reach Bhagwabhasa. Have your breakfast and start to descend towards Patal Nachauli. Now the fun would start to follow as the it is all descend and it would be less time consuming too. By the afternoon you would reach Patar Nachauli. You can camp here, if you feel to spend one extra day in the laps of the nature otherwise have little rest, lunch and head towards BedniBugyal to merge with the flocks of tourists. Around 4p.m you would reach Bedni Bugyal where you can camp for the night.
View of Mt. Trishul from Jyuragali
You don't need to start early this morning as this is the last day in meadows and you need to enjoy every bit of it. After having refreshing breakfast start your downward journey towards the Wan village. 15 Minutes after you start, you would start to see the tree line and dense Rhododendron (known as Buransh in the local parlance) forest indicating the end of the meadows. Once you pass Gharoli Patal, the trail would get a little easier to walk upon as the grade of descend would lower down. You can have the famous Rhododendron juice at the small restaurant between Gharoli Patal and Neel Ganga. After that have your lunch at Neel Ganga. Refresh yourself with the chilly water and move on towards Ranka Dhar. You will have to climb around 20 minutes from neel ganga towards Ranka Dhar which can be tiring as your body got used to descending for now. From Ranka Dhar Reach Wan Village. You can pay a visit to Latu devta Temple as a sign of gratitude for excellent journey. If you wish to stay you can take home stay in Wan village or you can rent a taxi and head back to Lohajung
BagPack (60 Liters) and Rain cover Head Torch and an extra Hand Torch Hike Foods: Energy Bars and Dry Fruits Walking Stick Waterproof Trek Shoes with Good Grip Toilet paper and wipes, Sunscreen and Moisturizers Poncho and Thermal Inner-wears 2-3 pair of socks
As roopkund trek is closed, which trek I may consider?
Uttarakhand offers many splendid treks, and there can be plenty of alternates for Roopkund but If you are new to trekking and want to gain some good experience in your first ever trek than you can go to Chopta Tungnath Chandrashila Trek.
The Best time for an individual to visit Roopkund depends upon the fact that whether he/she wants to enjoy trekking on the snow or want to see the vivid vegetation.
For Snow, the month of May is the best time. Particularly end of May is ideal for the snow trek to Roopkund. Although, the climatic condition can be harsh during this time especially in Bhagwabhasa as the temperature drop till -10. For a green valley experience the month of September is considered to be the best.You get to see a very rare species of Flower which is known as BhramKamal (Saussurea Obvallata). This flower is very sacred for the locals here. Nights are still quite chilly but one can enjoy the weather in day time with majestic views of meadows and grasslands. Definitely Monsoon is not at all advisable for the trek as it is usually raining whole day and the trail is muddy and slippery. Also frequency of landslides increases comparatively. From the last week of June till Last week of August the trek remains closed and there is hardly any accommodation on the route.