Gurudongmar Lake - The Sacred and Most Highest Lake of The World

02 Aug 2021 by Sandhya Singh

Gurudongmar lake is one of the most Pristine lakes of Sikkim, located in proximity to Tibet and China border of North East India. This magnificent lake is located at an elevation of 5183 m. This lake is named after Guru Padmasambhava as he passed through this place during his visit to Tibet.

This is probably the most fascinating lake on the planet that is located on the Northern side of the Khangchengyao Range and is surrounded by the mighty mountains also the lake gets frozen during the winter months. You can have a view of this Lake from the parking area but if you want to enjoy the serenity of this place then you need to climb down towards the base of this lake.

This lake is one of the top tourist attractions and a pilgrimage site of Sikkim and also boosts the tourism industry of this place. The literal meaning of Gurudongmar is the “red-faced Guru” which is referred to as the red-colored wrathful form of Guru Padmasambhava.

History of Gurudongmar Lake

From the year 1997 to 1998 are huge dispute arose when the Sikh Regiment of the Indian Army, guarding the India-China border took a decision of constructing a Gurudwara as this place was visited by Saint Guru Nanak. This act of the Sikh Regiment created anger among the Sikkimese people as they considered the Gurudwara as illegal construction.

As per the local people, this place belongs to Guru Padmasambhava who visited it while returning from Tibet. When this issue was reported the Sikkim government constituted a high-level committee, all the documents were checked by Namgyal Institute of Tibetology and in the dispute, Gangtok also agreed with the local people that this place belongs to the Buddhist religion.

After that, the Gurudwara that was constructed by Sikh Regiment was handed over to Lachen monastery on 6th July 2001 under the supervision of sub-divisional magistrate Chungthang. After that, the monastery was placed here and a lama was appointed as a watchman of the lake.

The mythology of Gurudongmar Lake

As per the legend, it is said that the frozen condition of this lake is directly linked with Guru Padmasambhava. As it is believed that this place was visited by him on his way back from Tibet. But taking a look at this place he felt that it was really e-wealth of ventilation as this appeared to be a divine location Dorje Nyima or Chhoedten Nyima.

As this Lake remains frozen for most of the Year to the people of the local area phase problem of drinking water and hence they appealed to Guru Padmasambhava to help them regarding this problem. The Guru agreed to help them and put his hand on a particular part of a lake and after that, it unfroze and the local people were able to get drinking water.

Since that incident, this lake was considered to be sacred and the water of this lake is carried back by the devotees along with them in a container.

Activities to do at Gurudongmar Lake

One can admire the beauty of nature by just sitting and having the treat of nature and surroundings. A lot of adventure lovers can also indulge in the activity like trekking where you can trek for almost 5 hours to reach this lake. You can also do the village tour while trekking towards the Gurudongmar lake.

One can also explore “Server Dharma Sthal” which is also known as the all religion Temple that is located in the proximity of this lake. The main attraction that is Tso Lhamu Lake which is located at the distance of 9 km can also be visited by the tourist.

One can also explore villages like Lachen village and Thangu village that are located at a driving distance of 3 hours. During the summer season, tourists can also enjoy the annual yak race that takes place at Lachen and this festival attracts a huge crowd of tourists each year.

Nearby Attractions

There are some of the magnificent attractions that are located in proximity to Gurudongmar lake. Here is the list of a few such attractions:

1. Cholamu Lake

It is one of the highest lakes in India and 14 highest lakes in the world which is located in the Northern part of Sikkim at an altitude of 18000 ft from sea level. One can have the magnificent sight of a frozen moderate size lake which is located few kilometers away from the Tibetan border.

2. Crow's Lake

It is also one of the most pristine lakes of Sikkim that attracts a huge crowd of tourists. This lake is generally explored while trekking towards the Gurudongmar lake.

3. Yumthang Valley

Yumthang Valley is located at the distance of 140 km from Gangtok in the Northern part of Sikkim. Hair one can find various rivers hot Springs, Green meadows, and Yaks. It is the perfect place for the nature lover as here one can find over 24 species of rhododendron flowers from late February till June month.

4. Chopta Valley

Chopta Valley is one of the prominent tourist attractions of North Sikkim and is also referred to as the Valley of Flower. This place is popular for its colorful flower beds which can be seen during the summer season. It is a perfect place for nature lover wildlife admirers as one can spot various species of plants, birds, and animals.

5. Mt Katao

This is located in the northern part of Sikkim at a distance of 144 km from Gangtok. It is a perfect place for adventure lovers and nature admirers to have a magnificent sight of the landscape. Some of the activities that can be enjoyed here are snow tubing, skiing, grinding, snowboarding, etc. These activities can be enjoyed during the winter season when the area is covered with a thick sheet of snow.

6. Thangu Valley

This Valley is located at an elevation of 3900 m and there is also a beautiful village known as Thangu village. This village is a perfect place for tourists to relax and have some refreshments while trekking towards Gurudongmar lake, here one can have the most magnificent site of Tibetan plateau it is a perfect place for the nature lover.

7. Lachung

Lachung is the most prominent tourist attraction of North Sikkim which is the Confluence point of Lachung and Lachen tributaries. This place is having a spectacular sight of snow-covered mountains and the gushing water of the waterfall.

8. Lachen

Lachen is a beautiful town located in the Sikkim district of Northeast India. This place is famous for its Lachen monastery and its natural scenic beauty. This place is also a very popular Buddhist pilgrimage site. It is also the famous gateway for the sacred Lhamu and Gurudongmar lake.

Where can you Stay

There is no proper accommodation provided at Gurudongmar lake so, the nearest accommodation can be done at Lachen which is located at a distance of 66 km and is a 2.5 hours-long journey. You can not find proper tourist accommodation beyond Lachen.

Permits

If you want to explore the northern part of Sikkim then an inner line permit is required as this area is located very close to China and Tibet border. If you are a foreign traveler then you are only allowed up to Yumthang and Chopta valley and if you are an Indian Traveller then you can also explore Gurudongmar lake.

This permit can be acquired at Gangtok even a day before starting your trip towards Gurudongmar Lake. For getting the permit one needs to deposit a copy of photo ID along with passport size photographs in the tourism office. This permit can also be taken in advance through the travel agent.

Best Time to Visit Gurudongmar Lake

The best time to explore Gurudongmar lake is from the month of November till the June month as during this period of time the weather remains really pleasant. In Lachen the summer remains moderate and pleasant and also the famous yak race festival is held during the summer months. In the winter month, this Lake freezes, and the site became really astonishing which is like a treat to the Traveler's eye.

How to Plan a Trip to Gurudongmar Lake

One can reach Lachen from Gangtok which is around a 6-hour drive and can take the halt at Lachen for relaxing. The next day one can drive towards the Gurudongmar lake after obtaining the proper format from the tourism department. There are two different itineraries that can be followed to visit this lake which is mentioned below:

No. of Days

Itinerary 1

Itinerary 2

Day 1

Gangtok- Chungthang- Lachung (overnight stay)

Gangtok- Chungthang- Lachen (overnight stay)

Day 2

Lachung- Yumthang Valley – Gangtok

Lachen- Chopta Valley- Gurudongmar Lake-Lachung (overnight stay)

Day 3

________

Lachung- Yumthang Valley – Zero point – Gangtok

How to Reach

By Air: 

Bagdogra Airport is the nearest domestic airport which is located at a distance of 200 km from Lachen. After reaching the hair what one can take the local jeeps and Taxis for covering the further distance to the lake.

By Road:

Lachen is well connected to the various major cities of India through the Sikkim State Road Transport Corporation and there are several private travel services that provide easy transportation from other parts of India to Sikkim. There are several interesting and buses that run on a daily basis through which one can easily reach this place.

By Rail:

Darjeeling railway station is the nearest railway station that is connected to the major cities. This railway station is located at a distance of 171 km from Lachen.

Tips to Visit Gurudongmar Lake

  • While traveling to this place carry the sunglasses with the polaroid film coating so as to protect your eyes from the harmful UV rays.
  • If you are traveling from Gangtok then it is recommended to take a halt at Lachen and then start the early morning journey to the Gurudongmar lake the next day.
  • Don't forget to carry the warm woolen clothes along with you.
  • Indian tourists can visit this lake by obtaining an inner permit but if you are a foreign tourist then you need to issue a special permit from the ministry of home affairs in Delhi to visit this lake.
  • A proper medicine box is needed to be carried along to cope up with the breathing problem that is caused at the higher altitudes.
  • There are various small stalls that are located near the lake where you can take the refreshment such as Maggi snacks and biscuits.
  • Since Gurudongmar lake is located at a higher altitude so you can face a breathing problem so it is advised to get a medical checkup done before planning this trip.
  • You can stop at Chopta Valley to have your breakfast while traveling towards Gurudongmar lake.

Dont's at Gurudongmar lake

  • Don't plan for this trip if you are not physically fit or have any breathing issues.
  • You need to carry an inline permit along with you if you are not having that permit then you will be not allowed to explore this place.
  • You need to take care of the cleanliness of this place and do not litter plastic bottles and wrappers on the ground instead take them along with you in your bag side pockets.
  • Be prepared for the trekking trail towards the Gurudongmar lake as it requires stamina.
  • There are no accommodations available near the lake so you need to have an accommodation booking at Lachen.

Frequently Asked Questions

By which name is Gurudongmar Lake referred?

Gurudongmar lake is a sacred lake that is named after the Buddhist Guru Padmasambhava who is also known as Guru Dongmar.

In which state is Gurudongmar Lake situated?

Gurudongmar lake is the highest lake of India as well as of the world and is located in the North-eastern state of India, i.e. Sikkim.

What oxygen level does Gurudongmar Lake has?

The oxygen level at Gurudongmar lake is around 2% which is painstakingly low but not so low. One can easily spend around an hour at this lake without feeling any kind of discomfort.

When is Gurudongmar Lake open?

The best time to explore Gurudongmar lake is from November till June month as during this time period the weather remains really pleasant and calm.

Can Gurudongmar lake be visited by older people and infants?

Since Gurudongmar lake is located at in high elevation so there is an issue of low oxygen level and hence it is not advisable to visit this place along with any infants or senior citizens.

What is the elevation of Gurudongmar Lake?

Gurudongmar lake is located at an elevation of 5183 meters above sea level.

How to get the permit to visit the lake?

You can get the payment directly from the tourism office by submitting your photo ID proof and two passport size photos at Gangtok or you can also get the permit through the travel agents.

Can Foreigners visit Gurudongmar Lake?

If the foreign tourist wants to visit the Gurudongmar lake then they need to get a special permit which is issued by the ministry of home affairs in Delhi.

Is Gurudongmar lake worth visiting?

Yes, this place is truly worth visiting as the lake is having fresh and clear water and one can even see the bed of this Lake easily. Other than this place is blessed with natural beauty and is having the magnification sight of snow-capped mountains which makes the view of this place so breathtaking.

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