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Gurudongmar Lake

Basic Information

Altitude - 17,000 ft
Weather - Cold to very cold. Strong freezing wind after midday.

Getting There

Visit Lachen from Gangtok, early morning day tour from Lachen for Indian national only.

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Gurudongmar LakeGurudongmar is a high altitude lake close to Tibet boarder in North Sikkim. It is the land of Yaks, blue ships and other high altitude animals of Sikkim and Tibet. The snow-fed milky water of the lake is one of the major sources of Tista, the most important river in Sikkim and North Bengal.

About The Lake

At an attitude of 17000 ft, Gurudongmar is one of the highest lakes in the world. It lies in the North side of the Khangchengyao Range and is encircled all around by snow-covered mountains, the sacred lake freezes during the winters except at one spot, which the devout believe has been specially blessed. The Chinese Tibetan boarder is just a few kilometres away from the lake.

The blessed water of the lake is believed to posses the miraculous power of granting children to issueless couples. Interestingly, the myth of Gurudongmar is believed as reverentially by the Hindus as by the local Buddhists.

The name Gurudongmar is derived from the name of the Guru Padmasambhava who is thought to have visited Tibet through this area. Snow capped mountains  close to the lakeThe area is said to be blessed by Guru Padmasambhava. There is a temple of the Guru besides the lake. Devotee tourists as well as the Army personnel offer prayer at the temple.

Getting There

Tour to North Sikkim requires special permit (Inner Line Permit). The permit is given to Tourists through an authorised tour operator. Only Indian tourists are allowed to visit Gurudongmar Lake. For international tourists, the tour is limited to Chopta Valley a few kilometers before the lake.

The lake is located at an extreme corner of India. The nearest tourist accommodation at Lachen is 45 km (3 hours) away. A typical tour starts at Gangtok from where Lachen is about 120 kms (6 hours). After overnight stay at Lachen next morning you may visit Gurudongmar. You should start early in the morning and be back to Lachen latest by lunch time. As the day progresses weather in the high altitude begins to worsens.

Road to Gurudongmar

The first phase of the journey starts at Lachen at 8800 feet and in next 30 kms reaches Thangu at 13000 feet. As you gain altitude you will find the green forests of lower altitude gives way to smaller trees and bushes. Beyond Thangu is the second phase of your travel. The road towards the lake from Thangu passes through the high alpine pastures carpeted with occassional rhododendron bushes. One can get a prized view of rare Sikkim Rhubarb peeping The Road to Gurudongmar Lakethrough the bushes in inaccessible terrain or of a herd of mountain sheep grazing in the distant valley. In this area you will find little vegetation or people. Apart from Indian Army, there is no human habitation here. The gravel road through the valley gives you a unique view of a barren land. Just before you reach the lake the road takes a right turn and goes uphill to reach the lake.

Special Note for Travellers

The terrain leading to Gurudongmar is very hostile and yet very beautiful. The land resembles Tibetan plateau, vegetation is very limited and the road is through stony moraine like unpaved path. Due to proximity to the Chinese Boarder, landmines are not uncommon and presence of Indian Army is ubiquitous. Due to high altitude breathing problems may also arise. Tourists are suggested to spend little time at the high altitude and come down to Lachen soon.

Despite the hardship and difficulty, a visit to this lake may last as an experience of a lifetime.

Tour Planning

You can visit this part of North Sikkim only through a package tour. Individuals cannot go their directly. Tours must be organised by authorised travel operator such as ourselves. It is part of a minimum of 2 night three days tour from Gangtok to Gangtok basis. Most tourists combine a tour to Lachen and Gurudongmar with a trip to Lachung and Yumthang valley. Following are two typical tour suggestions

Short Tour Lachen and Lachung
Day 1 - At Gangtok
Day 2 - Travel Gangtok to Lachen; overnight Lachen
Day 3 - Lachen to Gurudongmar and Chopta Valley and Back; overnight Lachen
Day 4 - Travel Back to Gangtok
Day 1 - At Gangtok
Day 2 - Travel Gangtok to Lachen; overnight Lachen
Day 3 - Lachen to Gurudongmar and Chopta Valley and Back. Continue travel to Lachung; overnight Lachung
Day 4 - Visit to Yumthang valley and Katao. Back to Lachung. Overnight Lachung
Day 5 - Travel Back to Gangtok

About Us
naturebeyond is the leading travel organisation for Sikkim Darjeeling area and has been organising tours to North Sikkim since 2001. We have unmatched expertise in organising these tours. We are also pioneers in Web marketing of North East. We are based in Sikkim and Darjeeling. Please fill the form below if you plan to travel to Gurudongmar or anywhere else in Sikkim or the rest of North East India.

Map of Gurudongmar Lake with road from Lachen via Thangu

Photogallery

(Copyright naturebeyond)

The Gurudongmar Lake

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