Lake of Skeletons – Roopkund Lake, Chamoli, Uttarakhand
At a height of 16,500 feet, in the middle of the most uninhabitable part of the Himalayas lies the secluded Roopkund Lake, covered in snow and surrounded by rock-strewn glaciers. More popularly known as Skeleton Lake or Mystery Lake, the spine-chilling attraction of this lake is the 600 odd human skeletons that were discovered here. These date back to the 9th CE and are clearly visible at the bottom of the shallow lake when the snow melts. The locals believe that this entourage had earned the fury of the local deity, Latu, who sent a terrible hailstorm their way, which eventually killed them.
Get pulled uphill by magnetic force – Magnetic Hill, Ladakh
At an altitude of 11000 feet above sea level, Magnetic Hill is one of the must-see things on the way to Leh. It is known to have magnetic power that can pull a car towards itself even when the ignition is off. It is a thrilling experience, but in reality, it is only an optical illusion caused by gravity hill. Magnetic Hill is one of the world’s recognized gravity hills.
Home to the notorious Cream – Malana, Himachal Pradesh
Located in the north-east of the Kullu Valley, Malana is also known as the ‘Little Greece of India’, because the locals believe that they are descendants of Alexander-the-Great himself! This ancient village is cut off from the rest of the world, and they follow an indigenous political system. There are only about a hundred houses in this village, but it is home to Malana Cream, the finest quality and most potent charas ever produced.
Dining with the Dead – New Lucky Restaurant, Ahmedabad
Now, here’s something that is morbid and fascinating at the same time. The New Lucky Restaurant has an ambience to kill for. This coffee house is built on a centuries-old Muslim cemetery. The graves lie between the tables, and are said to belong to a 16th CE Sufi saint. The restaurant is always bustling with guests and the owner says that the graves are his lucky mascots.
The Eternal Flame – Jwala Ji Temple, Kangra
Throughout the year, people visit the Jwala Ji Temple of Kangra to seek blessings from the Goddess. In the centre of the temple, a hollowed stone holds a flame that has been burning for hundreds of years. According to the legend, Lord Shiva’s wife, Sati, immolated herself in anguish when her father disrespected her husband. A furious Shiva danced the Tandav Nritya carrying the burnt corpse. In doing so, she fell into 51 parts and landed on the earth. Each of these locations turned into a religious shrine for the Hindus. The Jwala Ji of Kangra is believed to be Sati’s fiery tongue.
Natural Mummy of Sangha Tenzing – Gue Village, Spiti
If you thought mummies were to be found only in Egypt, you are mistaken. In a little village called Gue, in Himachal’s Spiti district, lays the remarkably well-preserved 500 year-old mummy of Sangha Tenzing, a Buddhist monk from Tibet. It was found in a sitting position, with skin and hair intact. This is probably because, the monk started mummifying himself while he was still alive. Natural mummification, as compared to chemical enbalming, is a complex procedure and is extremely rare. The mummy was discovered after an earthquake in 1975. It is now on display at a temple in Gue.
Rural Olympics – Kila Raipur, Ludhiana
During February every year, Kila Raipur village in Ludhiana is buzzing with energy. Locals and tourists come together to witness a recreational sports meet of farmers in and around Kila. The Rural Olympics was a brainchild of philantropist Inder Singh Grewal. It was conceived as early as 1933. Bullock racing, tent pegging, Gatka, camels, mules and dog races are the main attractions. Punjabi folklore and cultural festivities also grace the event, making it a truly exhilarating experience.
Land of Black Magic – Mayong, Assam
A cloak of mystery shrouds Mayong, better known as the Land Of Black Magic, a village 40 kms from Guwahati city, close to Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary. It is popularly believed that the name Mayong comes from the Sanskrit word for illusion, Maya. Many tales of men disappearing into thin air, people being converted into animals, or beasts being magically tamed, have been associated with Mayong. Sorcery and magic were traditionally practised and passed down over generations. Many ancient relics of Ayurveda and black magic are now preserved in the Mayong Central Museum.