Gurudongmar Lake in Sikkim, located at a height of 17,800 ft is one of the highest lakes in the world. Named after Guru Padmasambhava who is famously known as Guru Rinpoche, the lake is considered to be sacred. One of the unexplored and uncharted attractions of Sikkim, this lake is just a few kilometers away from the Chinese Tibetan border. It is a pristine beauty with breathtaking environs. The terrain of the way to this lake is quite rugged but has beautiful alpine pastures and lovely rhoderons which add to the scenic delight here. Read on to know more about the lake.
About Gurudongmar Lake
Named after the noted Guru Padmasambhava, Gurudongmar Lake holds much significance. The lake is believed to be sacred by the Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists. Legends say that the lake was blessed by Guru Padmasambhava due to the appeal by the local people. Owing to its high altitude location, the lake remained frozen most of the year. So, the local people asked for help from Padmasambhva who placed his hands on a part of the lake which stopped freezing even during the winters, and thus offered drinking water to the people. Since this incident, the lake was believed to be sacred and pilgrims began to carry the sacred water back in containers.
Another tale goes like this that Sikh Guru Nanak Dev passed through the lake in the 15th century and when the people prayed to him to help them, he touched a part of this lake with his walking stick and that portion of this lake stopped freezing throughout the year. He is also believed to have blessed the water with strength and virility.
Best Time To Visit Gurudongmar Lake
If one wants to enjoy the snow, then the best time to visit Gurudongmar Lake is during the winters which extend from November to February but it is subject to whether the roads are open or not. The temperature ranges from 5°C to -27°C. The lake is totally frozen during this period of time. One can also head here during the months of April and May when the rhododendrons bloom and add to the beauty of this already beautiful landscape.
Things To Do At Gurudongmar Lake
The lake is a sight in itself, but what’s all the more beautiful is the journey towards it. Here are the places to explore near Gurudongmar Lake
Situated in the land of Yaks, close to the Tibet border is this scenic lake. The lake is fed by glaciers. This fresh water lake had such clear water once that one could even see the bed of the lake, but the visibility now isn’t that great. Nevertheless the place offers one with lovely views. Encircled by snow capped mountains, the views here are breathtaking. Click beautiful pictures with the lake at the backdrop, and do add it to your Sikkim trip, as visiting it is totally worth it.
If you like adventures, then you can also plan a trek here. One can trek from Gurudongmar Lake to Tso Lhamo Lake in Sikkim. This again is one of the highest lakes in the world and to trek from one lake to another, one needs to obtain a permit from the Army. the lakes are 9 km apart, and the trek isn’t for amateurs or beginners.
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To reach Gurudongmar lake from Gangtok the best option is to stay overnight at Lachung. The distance between the two places is around 100 km and a 4 hour taxi drive. This is a picturesque mountain village and stopping here is always a good idea, rather than a direct trip from Gangtok to the lake. Lachung is a beautiful town with lovely apple orchards, dense pine forests and hot springs.Explore these places and one can also visit the 19th-century Buddhist Lachung Monastery when in town.
Lachen is the last place where one can find accommodation options when headed to the lake, and those not staying at Lachung can plan a stay here at Lachen, a beautiful hamlet in Sikkim. The town is a base for those headed to Chopta Valley and Gurudongmar Lake. Also, as the lake is situated at quite an elevation, it is better to make a stop and let the body adjust to the altitude. One can also visit the place during the summers, and enjoy the annual yak race that takes place here.
5. Thangu Valley
Thangu is at a distance of 2 hours from Lachen. This is a beautiful hamlet in Sikkim. With a few huts and army base, all that this valley has is immense beauty. If one is stopping at Lachen for the night, then the following morning this is the first stop to make on the way to Gurudongmar lake. Enjoy tea and noodles for breakfast here. In May and June, one can see the beautiful alpine flowers blooming while the valley is covered in snow from November to March.
If you are planning to visit Gurudongmar lake, then keep in mind these few things.
- One needs to take permits in Gangtok before going to Gurudongmar lake and if you plan to get them yourself then keep 1-2 buffer days as it might require running after the officials. Otherwise one can get the permits via authorized tour operators in the state.
- Do not plan a direct trip to the lake from Gangtok, but stop at Lachung or Lachen, as it is important for the body to adjust to the different altitudes.
- Pack well according to the weather during the month of visit.
- Carry at least 2-3 copies of a photograph ID and photographs as they’ll have to be submitted in the tourism office
How to reach
By Air: Bagdogra Airport in Siliguri is the nearest airport to go to the lake. One can hire a taxi for Lachen here which is at a distance of 200 km, and from there taxis and jeeps are available to go to the lake.
By Rail: Darjeeling Railway Station is the nearest railhead for the lake and is at a distance of 171 km from Lachen.
By Road: Buses are available from various cities of Sikkim to Lachen. One can take the jeep or taxi to the lake, after reaching Lachen.
Gurudongmar Lake is a beautiful lake in Sikkim. Do add it to your itinerary whenever planning a trip to Sikkim. For a hassle free trip experience book your holiday with TravelTriangle and have an amazing time at the lake, and the entire journey to it. Explore the picturesque hamlets of Sikkim and have a memorable and once in a lifetime kind of trip!
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