Gurudongmar Lake, also known as Gurudogmar Lake, is one of the highest lakes in the world, located at an altitude of 17,800 ft (5,430 m) in the Indian state of Sikkim. It is a lake which is considered sacred by both Buddhists and Sikhs. The lake is named after Guru Padmasambhava, also known as Guru Rinpoche, founder of Tibetan Buddhism who visited the lake in the 8th century.
To travel to Gurudongmar Lake – one has to first travel to Lachen and then go to Gurudongmar Lake from there. This lake is at a height of 17,800 feet. It is higher than the Pangang Tso Lake or TsoMoriri Lake in Leh-Ladakh area. However its sheer beauty make up for the fact that it involves almost 1.5 days of travel.
First of all permits are required to visit this place and foreign nationals are strictly not allowed. Permits are issued at Gangtok and your local tour agent / hotel you are staying in can take care of this.
We reached Lachen on April 10, 2016 around 6:30 PM in the evening from Gangtok and stayed at the hotel for the night. Resting time was very less since we had to start very early for Gurudongmar Lake.
We started at 4 AM, April 11, 2016 but on the way we saw other tourists even started at 3 AM. Our driver was confident we would have ample time so we went with his schedule but only question was how our health will be after reaching there.
At this height the air is rarefied – it has less oxygen and it can be very difficult to breathe. Be prepared for this. They say no medications really work for altitude sickness so no idea what you can do though.
On the way normally the jeeps stop at a place for morning breakfast which is Bread, Butter, Maggi mostly ! and tea. From there jeep takes another final stop at an Army check post. That place is the last checkpost before the Gurudongmar lake road is taken. We had an Indian army soldier boarded our jeep since he was going to the Indian bunker opposite to the lake. We happily boarded him with us. He informed us that the checkpost area is the worst place for oxygen. At that place the oxygen level in minimum even lesser than the lake area !!!!
We reached at the lake by 8:45 AM. So its around 4:30 hrs journey from Lachen.
After 12 noon – the high altitude winds can be very cold and the wind chill adds to the freezing sensation.
We thought of staying a bit more there but we couldn’t since our elders were not feeling well and we had to cut short our time of stay there. But we enjoyed about half an hours there.
Enjoyed the beauty, clicked pictures, jumped in air (not advised at all) and did a short 360° video of the lake.
The guides say that although one can go down to the lake coming back up might pose a problem. One is also not supposed to run about this place – the additional need for oxygen might leave you wheezing !
In case you still want to go down to the lake you can only do so in a clockwise fashion. The lake is considered sacred so anti clockwise is a no-no.
A picture is worth a thousand words – so I think the snaps say it all. The lake’s sheer beauty is mesmerizing. I think this is a must visit place in North Sikkim.
Some DOs and Dont’s
- Sleep early and rest well in Lachen.
- Carry and drink ample water with you.
- Breath deep slowly (when having breathing problem).
- Have Pop-pop corns.
- Upon reaching the lake don’t run around. Be slow and steady (To preserve oxygen)
- Don’t be late to reach there. (Go early, return early)
- Don’t remain empty stomach.