Gurudongmar Lake in Sikkim, situated at an elevation of 17,800 ft, stands as one of the highest lakes across the globe. Its designation pays homage to Guru Padmasambhava, who is famously recognized as Guru Rinpoche, and the lake itself holds immense sacred significance. This hidden gem of Sikkim remains largely unexplored and uncharted, nestled just a few kilometers away from the Chinese Tibetan border. With awe-inspiring surroundings, Gurudongmar Lake exhibits pristine beauty. The journey towards this lake encompasses rugged terrains adorned with picturesque alpine pastures and delightful rhododendrons, further enhancing the scenic charm. Continue reading to gain a deeper insight into this magnificent lake.
About Gurudongmar Lake
Gurudongmar Lake finds its namesake in the revered Guru Padmasambhava, revered by Hindus, Sikhs, and Buddhists alike. Legend has it that the locals sought Padmasambhava’s intervention to resolve the perpetual freezing of the lake owing to its high altitude location. In response to their plea, Padmasambhava placed his hands upon a portion of the lake, preventing it from freezing even during the harshest winters. This act ensured a continuous supply of drinking water for the people and bestowed sacred significance upon the lake. Consequently, pilgrims began the practice of collecting the holy water and carrying it in containers.
Another tale recounts the visit of Sikh Guru Nanak Dev to the lake during the 15th century. In response to the prayers of the people, Guru Nanak Dev touched a specific area of the lake with his walking stick, preventing it from freezing throughout the year. It is further believed that he blessed the water, infusing it with strength and vigor.
Optimal Time to Visit Gurudongmar Lake
For those seeking the enchantment of snow, the winter months from November to February offer the best time to explore Gurudongmar Lake, subject to the openness of roads. The Gurudongmar Lake weather during this period varies between 5°C to -27°C, resulting in a frozen lake. Alternatively, April and May present an excellent opportunity to witness the blooming of rhododendrons, further enriching the beauty of this already mesmerizing landscape.
Activities to Experience at Gurudongmar Lake
The lake itself captivates the senses, and the journey leading up to it only amplifies its allure. Below are some recommended places to explore near Gurudongmar Lake.
Located in the vicinity of the Tibetan border, within the realm of Yak-occupied terrain, lies this picturesque lake. Fed by glaciers, the lake’s once crystal clear waters allowed for a glimpse of its bed, although visibility has diminished over time. Nevertheless, the surroundings boast breathtaking views with snow-capped mountains encircling the area. Capture stunning photographs against the backdrop of the lake, making it an indispensable part of your Sikkim adventure, as it is absolutely worth the visit.
If you have a penchant for adventures, you can also contemplate embarking on a hiking expedition here. In Sikkim, you can traverse from Gurudongmar Lake to Tso Lhamo Lake. This is yet another example of one of the highest lakes globally, and in order to hike from one lake to the other, one must obtain military permission. These lakes are separated by a distance of 9 km, and the hike is not meant for inexperienced or beginner hikers. Whether you seek a brief hike or a lengthy walk to complete a circuit, the Gurudongmar lake hike is the perfect choice.
To reach Gurudongmar lake from Gangtok, the ideal option is to spend the night in Lachung. The distance between these two places is approximately 100 km, which can be covered in a 4-hour taxi ride. Rather than taking a direct trip from Gangtok to the lake, it is always a splendid idea to pause and admire the picturesque mountain village of Lachung. Lachung boasts of enchanting apple orchards, dense pine forests, and natural hot springs. While here, you can explore these places and also pay a visit to the 19th-century Buddhist Lachung Monastery. Additionally, you can explore notable attractions in Lachung.
Lachen serves as the final accommodation option on the way to the lake, allowing those not staying in Lachung to plan a stay here. Lachen is a charming village in Sikkim that serves as a base for tourists heading towards Chopta Valley and Gurudongmar Lake. Given the lake’s considerable altitude, it is advisable to take a break in Lachen and allow your body to acclimate to the high altitude. You can also visit the place during the summer months and witness the thrilling annual yak race that takes place here. Lachen is also a prime destination among tourist spots in Sikkim.
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