Gurudongmar Lake is one of the highest lakes in the world. It is in India, having an altitude of 17,800 ft or 5,430 m in the state of Sikkim. Sikhs, Buddhists and Hindus consider it a sacred site. It is one of the most pristine and beautiful lakes in Sikkim. Gurudongmar Lake is located very close to the northern Chinese-Tibetan border.
One of the main sources of the Teesta River, this icy alpine lake is nestled among the mountains. The lake is named after the distinguished guru Padmasambhava, who they say passed through the area when he visited Tibet. With its exceptionally high altitude and crystal clear waters, this lake is perhaps the most amazing in the world.
How to get there
No public transportation is available to access the lake, so hiring a taxi is your best option. Try to leave early on the day you visit the lake, around 3 a.m. to 4 a.m. Treat yourself to a light meal, such as tea or small snacks, before heading to Thangu. There you can have your breakfast from 6:00 am to 7:00 am approximately, then drive to Gurudongmar. If you pick the right time, you can be back for lunch in Lachen.
The villages near Gurodongmar are Thangu, 30 km away, and Lachen, 40 km away. Lachen is about a 6 hour drive from Gangtok, which is about 81 miles. Due to the position of the lake at such a high altitude with lower oxygen levels, tourists usually experience breathing problems when visiting here.
- Children under five are not allowed to visit the lake
- Adults over 65 are also not allowed
Best time to travel
Getting to Gurudongmar Lake requires a long and sometimes difficult journey. Roads to the lake were virtually non-existent until just a few years ago. Now there are smooth roads after passing through the Giaogang checkpoint at an altitude of 15,000 feet.
Time of the day
The interior line permit that you have is going to be verified by Giaogong’s army. You must pass through this checkpoint from 8:30 am to 10:30 am. You should also be out before 12:30 p.m. as the weather becomes unpredictable here.
Period of the year
The temperature ranges from -4 degrees Fahrenheit to 50 degrees Fahrenheit, and the weather fluctuates during different months of the year.
The worst times to visit the lake are between July and October, as heavy rains make the roads slippery.
It is best to visit Gurudongmar Lake from March to June when the temperatures are mild. If you want to see various rhododendrons and orchids, you will need to stay in April during the flowering season.
The best time to enjoy the snow is from November to February for those who love the cold.
The small army shelter offers everyone free hot coffee or tea, which is necessary to cope with this cold. There are also toilets for public use. Along with this, the military runs a small souvenir section that sells holy water, lake coffee mugs, etc. If you can, please buy from there to support the army.
Gurudongmar Lake is an important tourist attraction located in the northern district of Sikkim. The formation of the lake is the result of the melting of water, which was once glacial snow. The lake is very high, so please take all necessary precautions. Acute mountain sickness, or AMS, can strike you if you overwork yourself or don’t prepare properly. The general recommendation to avoid this is to arrive earlier and not to stay longer at the lake.
Accommodation is limited, especially in Thangu. Therefore, if Thangu is not available, the next best place to keep as a base when visiting Gurudongmar is Lachen. Lachen is favored mainly because of the best facilities available.
Lachen apple orchard
This resort is by far the best accommodation in Lachen. Resting on top of the hill overlooking the town of Lachen, it has excellent rooms. It also extends over hectares of land and even includes an apple orchard.
- TV in all bedrooms
- Ambient heating on request
- Running hot water
- Car park
- 24 hour room service
- Cost: $ 106 / night
Royal Delight in Lachen
This complex has a magnificent view of the snow capped mountains from the entrance. The rooms are quite spacious but essential given the solitude of the place.
- Standard rooms
- TV, room service, 24-hour security, alarm clock and smoking rooms
- Room heating service
- Cost: $ 16 / night
Blue Pine Hotel
Hotel Blue Pine is a budget accommodation in Lachen. Expect essential rooms as well as beautiful views from this hotel.
- Free parking
- Luggage compartment
- Room service
- Smoking rooms
- Masks / Gloves
- Cost: $ 33 / night
As the lake sits at a very high elevation above sea level, there are hardly any restaurants in the area. You should bring some snacks. There is local food near Mangan which is hygienic and affordable. Tibetan snacks, such as thukpa (or vegetable / meat soup noodles) as well as momos, are a must-try for all visitors.
Because Gurudongmar Lake is near the international border, foreigners cannot get there without a special permit from the Interior Ministry in New Delhi. Foreign travelers can also visit the Chopta Valley. Indians, however, can visit Gurudongmar Lake after obtaining an inland line permit. Any travel agency on the government approved list will help you acquire the permits.
Indeed, a trip to the lake and the valley of Chopta will remain an unforgettable and vivid memory in your mind, but don’t just take our word for it. If you really want to take in the beauty of these magnificent sites, start planning your trip today. Hope this article helps you!
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