The famous lake of East Sikkim has several names. For most tourists it is the Changu Lake although officially the lake is more often referred to as Tsongmo lake or the Tsongo lake. It is a must see among tourists visiting Gangtok. There are half day sight seeing tours being organised from the capital to the lake and back.
Situated at an altitude of 12,200 ft above sea-level Tsongmo lake is a prime tourist attraction. The mystic lake high above the Himalayas remains frozen during winter. During April-May the entire surrounding becomes colourful with blooming rhododendrons, blue and yellow poppies, iris and primulas of different species. The name Tsongmo is a Bhutia term and it means the 'Source of the lake' ('TSO' means lake and 'NGMO' stands for head).
At a distance of 40 kilometers away from Gangtok on the way to Nathu-la on Indo-Tibet boarder the lake is about 1 kilometer long and 15 meters deep. This is one of the most famous and sacred lakes of the state. The tourist can enjoy playing snow and taking a yak or pony ride around the lake. There are shops around selling Souvenirs, on a frozen day you can hire a snow boot to walk around. You can take a ride on Yak or wear the Tibetan traditional dress "Bakkhu" for a photo op.
Tourists visiting Tsongmo lake needs special permit issued by the Sikkim Tourism Department. Foreigners are also allowed to visit the lake with special permit. Onwards from the lake is the location of Baba Mandir and Nathula Pass. Both these destinations are out of bound for international travellers. Indian tourists may visit these places as well. There are certain documentary formalities for visitors to the lake. We recommend you talk to our guest service members before visiting Sikkim and bring your documents as suggested.
There are limited number of vehicles allowed to visit the destinations of Changu lake, Nathula and Baba Mandir. Hence you need to plan early. If your travel plan includes Nathula, you do not need a separate permit to visit the lake as it is on the way to the Indo-Chinese boarder.
The tour for Tsongmo lake, Baba Mandir, Nathula etc. starts in the morning and you can expect to be back to your hotel by early afternoon. The lake can also be visited from an opposite direction through upcoming tourist destination of Zuluk and Nathang valley.