Weather :

Timings : Anytime

Time Required : 2-3 hours

Entry Fee : No entry fee.
Kids below 6 years are not allowed to go.

Gurudongmar Lake, North Sikkim Overview

Located at the height of 17,100 feet above the sea level, Gurudongmar Lake, located in Sikkim, is one of the fifteen highest lakes in the world. It is also the second highest lake in Sikkim, after the Cholamu Lake located at the height of 18,000 feet. The splendid and scenic beauty of the place is breathtaking and attracts tourists from all across the world. Gurudongmar Lake also has great religious significance attached to it, and the beautiful view of Mount Siniolchu and Kanchenjunga from the lake is a sight to behold and cherish. The water of Gurudongmar Lake is believed to have healing powers, and many tourists carry the water with them on their way back.

Encircled by snow-capped mountains and crystal clear icy water, Gurudongmar is considered to be a very holy lake. It is one of the sources of River Teesta, which flows through Sikkim, West Bengal and Bangladesh, to finally merge with the Bay of Bengal. There lies a 'Sarva Dharma Sthal' nearby, which is also a very popular place of worship for all religions. The Gurudongmar Lake is located in Lachen, a small and beautiful town in North Sikkim. A night stay at this town is highly recommended before visiting the stunning lake. The strategic location of the mesmerising Gurudongmar Lake and its proximity to other popular attractions further appeals to the tourists, and make it one of the most popular attractions in Sikkim.

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Inner Line Permit

Inner Line Permit is required to visit this part of Sikkim, because of the proximity to China and Tibet Border. While foreigners are allowed only up to Yumthang and Chopta Valley, Indians can visit the gorgeous Gurudongmar Lake. The permit can be acquired in Gangtok, a day before starting your trip to the lake. The copies of photo ID along with two photographs need to be submitted in the tourism office. You can even ask your travel agent to obtain the permit for you.

Legend of Gurudongmar Lake

Gurudongmar Lake is named after the famous Guru Padmasambhava, who was also known as Guru Rinpoche. This saint was the founder of Tibetan Buddhism and had visited the lake in the 8th century. The frozen condition of the lake is also linked to the saint, and it is believed that while on his way back from Tibet, he realized that it was worthy of reverence since it represented the holy location of Chhoedten Nyima.

The lake, however, remained frozen throughout large parts of the year, and thus there was no way that it could meet the drinking water needs of the people. The locals then appealed to the guru, who decided to help them. He placed his hand on the part of the lake, and the ice in that particular spot began to melt. Ever since, the mesmerizing Gurudongmar Lake is considered to be holy, and people carry back the water of the lake in containers since the water is considered to be sacred and possess healing properties.

Gurudongmar Lake
Prayer flags by Gurudongmar Lake
Source

Gurudongmar Lake was also blessed by Guru Nanak in the 15th century when he passed through the area. According to this version of the legend, the locals appealed to him to make the ice melt, so that they could use the water. Guru Nanak touched a part of the lake with his walking stick, and it became free of snow ever since. He also blessed the lake and stated that whosoever would take its water would gain strength and virility.

Things to Do

The sight of the Gurudongmar Lake is a visual treat for the eyes and manages to please everyone who visits it. A lot of visitors also love to go trekking from the lake, since it is the base station for several treks. The Sarva Dharma Sthala, which is a famous spiritual attraction for peace seekers, is popularly called as the temple for all religions and is located quite close to the lake.

The Tso Lhamu Lake, which is the source of water for the Teesta River, is located about 9 kilometres away, and can also be explored along with the main attraction. The other places that can be visited along with the trip to Gurudongmar lake are the Lachen village and Thangu village, both of which are just 3-4 hours drive away from the Gurudongmar Lake. In summers, the exciting annual Yak Race called the Thangu takes place at the Lachen and is visited by numerous people who wish to enjoy this amazing festival.

Tso Lhamu Lake Road
The road to Tso Lhamu Lake
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Best Time to Visit Gurudongmar Lake

The best time to visit Gurudongmar Lake is between November and June as the weather is quite pleasant at that time of the year. Summers are moderate and quite pleasant in Lachen. An annual yak race called Thangu takes place here every summer. During winter, Lachen can get quite cold. Gurdongmar Lake freezes completely during the winter months and is a treat to the eyes.

Gurudongmar Lake
Frozen Gurudongmar Lake
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Gurudongmar Lake Itinerary

Reach Lachen via any mode of transport and the places of interest on the way are Tashi View Point, the historic Kabi Lungtsok, Phodong Monastery. Check into a hotel in Lachen and after an early breakfast or you can stay at a simple guesthouse in Thangu itself. Take a tour of Thangu and enjoy the scenic beauty there. Then, drive to Gurudongmar Lake via Chopta Valley. Have a quick lunch at Lachen and drive to Lachung and enjoy that beautiful town. From there, you can go to Gangtok. A trip to Lachen will take about 1-2 days and you can follow it with a visit to any other city in the state.

Tips

1. Carry sunglasses with Polaroid film coating and UV lenses to protect you from heavy sun rays and white blindness.
2. It's advisable to stop at Lachen as the journey from Gangtok can be quite tiring. Night stay at Lachen and an early morning drive to Gurudongmar is recommended.
3. Carry warm clothes as the weather is quite cold out there.
4. Indian tourists are allowed to visit the lake, but foreigners need to get a special permit from the Ministry of Home Affairs in Delhi to visit the lake.
5. Carry medicines to cope up with breathing at high altitude. Spending half an hour at the lake will make you feel light headed because of low oxygen.
6. There is a tiny shanty near the lake which sells biscuits, Maggie, tea and other snacks. You can also visit the army canteen.

How to reach Gurudongmar Lake

  • Air: The nearest Domestic Airport is Bagdogra Airport which is around four and half hour drive from Lachen. You will have to hire a taxi from the airport to reach Lachen where taxis and jeeps are available to go to the lake.

  • Rail: The nearest Railway Station to Gurudongmar Lake is Darjeeling Railway Station which is connected to most of the cities of Sikkim and is at a distance of 171 Kms from Lachen. Siliguri, Sukna, Tindharia, Mahanadi, Dilaram, Sonada, Jorebungalow and Ghum are the cities it is well connected with.

  • Road: Lachen is connected through Sikkim State Road Transport Corporation (SSRTC) and some private travel services to all the major cities of Sikkim. Regular buses ply from Lachen to these states. From Lachen, you can get jeeps and taxis to reach Gurudongmar Lake.

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North Sikkim Reviews

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Brahmani Keni 1 year ago
"IT’S TRULY SERENE!!" The trip to this region will disconnect you from the world and connect you with nature. The Lake is auspicious in nature and beautiful for one’s eyes. For either reason, one must visit this place at least once in a lifetime. The best eatery is chicken momos, noodles, Thukpas, Maggi and masala tea. Also a small do not forget to carry ginger and camphor for high altitude sickness.
Rohit Shroff 1 year ago
Located at very high altitudes close to Tibet border, Gurudonmar Lake serves as one of a major source of the River Tista, a most significant river in West Bengal and Sikkim. With its crystal clear water, it is a major tourist attraction in the area.
Tarak Paul 1 year ago
The lack is really beautiful. Mother nature has preserved it for us. Must visit at least once. It takes 3-4 hour to reach from Lachen. I have visited in April, 2018. We stayed in Lachen and next day morning we started the journey to lake. Spending more than 30 minutes was difficult me. So we came back after 30 minutes. Do visit the lake if you have a plan to go to Gangtok.

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