Handful of Horizons

Gurudongmar lake, Sikkim

Gurudongmar lake

Visiting one of the highest lakes in the world

What happens when you visit mountains and there is a frozen lake amidst them? Well that is not a combination that we have always heard, right? When we think about mountains, it is all snow and altitudes. A water body is not in those picturesque ideal parts of mountains and hills. But when it becomes a part, the view is mesmerizing.

Gurudongmar lake, Sikkim

Reaching Gurudongmar lake

Well, the plan to visit Gurudongmar was part of our Sikkim itinerary. We didn’t have time to visit the whole state on our 6-day trip. So we had to choose between the best locations and trust me, that was a difficult choice. But when we googled about the state, the first thing we noticed was the world-famous lake. This lake is tagged by many as the second-highest altitude lake in the world. Some say that it is only the second-highest in Asia. It is still unclear whether it is still second in the world. But it definitely is one of the highest lakes in the world.

We took a flight from Bengaluru to Baghdogra. We reached Gangtok by taxi. From Gangtok, we took a taxi to Lachen. This is a small village in North Sikkim, where we had arranged for our stay. It is around a 4-5 hour drive from Gangtok. The village was small and the stay was beautiful. Our cab picked us again the next morning around 4 to Gurudongmar. It is a 3-4 hour drive from there.

Gurudonmar lake, Sikkim
Enjoying the view at Gurudongmar lake

Gurudongmar lake altitude

Now because of Bollywood films, Pangong Tso lake in Ladakh is extremely popular. But Gurudongmar on the other hand is much more mysterious and beautiful. The journey to the lake itself is so beautiful and adventurous. Adventurous because of the roads and beautiful because of the views. The lake is situated at an altitude of 5154m. The driver explained to us that after a point there is no vegetation and hence at the lake there is a lack of Oxygen.

The lack of oxygen limits the time that we spend at the lake. One can actually take a walk around the lake if the conditions were optimum. But here even when you climb down the few steps to the surface of the lake, you should be careful not to do that very quickly. He advised us to take it slow and asked us not to run or jump around. We had taken popcorn packets as he suggested, to help us through if we had any breathing issues.

Best time to visit

Gurudongmar lake, Sikkim
Gurudongmar lake, Sikkim

We went to visit the lake in November. It was a good time. In March, it would be completely frozen and icy. When we visited, it was a mixture of ice and water. The surface was only ice and underneath was blue water. That look was pristine. I doubt if the same would be the case when it is fully frozen to ice. It would appear completely white then. So the best time to visit the lake would be from November to mid-May. But keep in mind that from March onwards it would be white and fully frozen.

Accommodation and transportation

We stayed at a place called “Gurudongmar lodge”. It was owned by a family and food was served in their kitchen. We highly recommend you to stay there. They had these cozy little rooms that were so nice. We had hired a taxi right from Gangtok, you can also hire taxis from Lachen. Food en route Gurudongmar was served at a small house in a town called Thangu. From Thangu we bought some clothes as well for the cold. There is a small market and refreshment options available there. This is the last place of civilization en route. After this, there are only hills and rocky terrains.

Even though the time is very limited at the lake, it should not discourage you from visiting this place. It is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The drive to the lake, the pristine water, and the snow-capped mountains in the backdrop will leave you breathless. If you have any more queries regarding the visit, please feel free to comment and let us know. We will be happy to assist you.