In 1942, H. K. Madhwal, a Nanda Devi game reserve ranger, made an macabre discovery in a remote corner of India’s Himalayas. He found Roopkund (Skeleton Lake), a frozen lake about 16,000 feet above sea level, that is full of human skeletons.
At first experts believed the people were from the 12th to 15th centuries, and died from an epidemic, landslide or blizzard. However, in 2004, additional research revealed the bodies were from around 850 AD, and didn’t die from previously suspected causes. After studying skull fractures, scientists from Hyderabad, Pune and London, determined that the people died from a sudden hailstorm. Hailstones as big as cricket balls!
But was the storm really a freak of nature, or was it something else? Himalayans have an ancient traditional folk song about a mountain goddess, so enraged at outsiders defiling her mountain sanctuary, that she rained death upon them with hailstones as “hard as iron”.