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Gurudongmar Lake - North Sikkim

At an altitude of over 17000 ft close to the Tibet border lays Gurudongmar - one of the most sacred and pristine lakes in Sikkim. Vast plateau that crosses the Indo-Tibet border, green grassy field criss-crossed by thousands of snaky glacier fed streams with perennial snow covered slopes that rises from it mark the landscape of the region.

The road to Gurudongmar from Thangu passes through the high alpine pastures carpeted with thick rhododendron bushes. One can get a prized view of a herd of blue sheep grazing in the distant valley.

There is no accommodation at Gurudongmar. People visiting the lake have to stay at Lachen. Because of the high altitude it is advisable that tourists having irregular blood pressure or heart problem consult a doctor before going for this tour.

Gurudongmar needs special entry permit for tourists. Only Indian tourists are allowed to visit the lake. For international visitors, the tour is limited to Thangu and Chopta valley, a few kilometres before the lake.

Due to close proximity with Chinese boarder and conflict over the region, a visit to Gurudongmar has some restrictions. It can be visited only as part of a tour package which is inclusive of your transport, accommodation, sightseeing and food. You cannot book a hotel and reach here on a shared cab. Only North Sikkim vehicles with special permits are allowed to visit here. You must travel in a SUV or MUV as the road condition is not very good.

From Gangtok you would be travelling to Lachen (121 kms 6 to 8 Hours). From Lachen Gurudongmar is a day visit. You have to start very early in the morning as you need to return before noon. The weather deteriorates in the afternoon and you should try to be back in Lachen before Noon.

From Lachen Gurudongmar is 60 kms and may take about 4 hours one way to travel. The drive is mesmerizing as you will be travelling from an altitude of just 9000 feet to 19000 feet and back to 9000 in few hours. Every few kilometres on the journey the landscape will keep changing and eventually towards the end you will reach cold desert like environment where no vegetation exists.

The attraction of visiting Gurudongmar is as much in the destination as it is in the journey. You start early morning before sunrise from Lachen for a 60 kms mesmerising journey to the sacred lake. Just about 5 kms after you cross Lachen, you will be crossing a small stream. Stop here to enjoy the surrounding. The small stream that you are crossing is Talem chu (chu means river) which originates a few kms above at Zemu glacier. Although not visible from here, the snowy peak of Kanchenjunga is just at an aerial distance of about 12 kms from here. Other peaks such as Shimvo and Sinialchu are even closer.

Drive on through the gorge created by Lachen chu river and you will soon find the landscape fast changing. The evergreen forests of lower altitude will soon give way to Alpine vegetation. By the time you reach Thangu valley (30 Kms), the vegetation reduces to small shrubs that bloom in a riot of colors during summer.

The road from Thangu to Gurudongmar lake is through Tibetan plateau with absolutely no vegetation. On your right the Kanchengyao peak and the Chomo Yummo will loom over your head for the rest of the journey. A few kms onwards slowly the gorge opens up and you find yourself in front of a wide open vista. You have crossed the highest mountains of the world and now further North of them in the rain shadow area of Tibetan plateau.

Further ahead is the Gurudongmar lake. Part of the lake remains frozen throughout the year. Soak in the beauty of the lake, offer prayer in the temple nearby, Take some selfies, look at the Chinese boarder barely 4 kms away. Its time to return to Lachen with memories that we guarantee will last a lifetime.

Map of Gurudongmar Lake

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