Gurudongmar / Guru Dongmar Lake, Lachen - Timings, Boating, Best Time to Visit

Photo Credit: Flickr

Distance (From Lachen): 66 Kms

Trip Duration (Including Travel): 3-4 Hours

Transportation Options: Cab

Travel Tips: Indians need Inner Line Permit to visit this lake while Foreigners are not allowed to visit Gurudongmar Lake as it is located near International border.

At a distance of 66 km from Lachen, Gurudongmar or Guru Dongmar Lake is a sacred lake situated on the northern part of Kanchenjunga Range in Sikkim. It is considered as the biggest and one of the highest lakes in Sikkim and among the top places to visit in Lachen.

Lies at an altitude of 17,100 feet, Gurudongmar Lake is a natural high altitude lake located just 5 km south of the Indo-China border in North Sikkim. The lake has a massive shore length of about 5.34 km and a surface area of about 118 hectares. Considered as one of the highest lake in the world, the lake also provides a beautiful view of Mount Siniolchu and Mount Kanchenjunga. The stream originating from the lake is one of the major sources of River Teesta.

The lake has a religious significance for both Sikhs and Buddhists. The lake is named after Guru Padmasambhava, also known as Guru Rinpoche, the founder of Tibetan Buddhism who visited the lake in the 8th century. According to the legend, the water of the lake was not possible to use as the lake remains frozen most of the year. When Guru passed by, while returning from Tibet, the local residents were approached him for providing source of water. Then the guru agreed to help them and placed his hands on a small part of the lake area which stopped freezing during winter thus facilitating the source of drinking water to the people. Since then the lake has been considered sacred and devotees carry this sacred water in bottles. The lake also claimed to have been blessed during the 15th century by Guru Nanak.

Fed by surrounding glaciers, Gurudongmar Lake is majestic emerald blue in colour. It is believed that the holy water of the lake miraculously grants the childless couples with children. The splendid and scenic beauty of the place is breathtaking and attracts tourists from all across the world who visit the lake to spend some quality time in the lap of nature. The surrounding of the lake is inhabited by Yaks, blue sheep and other wildlife of high altitude. The Sarva Dharma Sthala is another spiritual attraction close to the lake. One can also visit Tso Lhamu Lake which is about 10 km from Gurudongmar.

The lake can be reached by road from Lachen via Thangu which takes about 2 hours. The approach road from Thangu to Gurudongmar passes through a rugged terrain with stony moraine, which has high alpine pastures covered with many rhododendron trees. There are several check posts on the way guarded by Army where vehicles are checked. Tour to Gurudongmar requires special permit (Inner Line Permit). The permit is given to Tourists through an authorized tour operator. Only Indian tourists are allowed to visit Gurudongmar Lake. For international tourists, the tour is limited to Chopta Valley a few kilometers before the lake.

The best time to visit the Gurudongmar Lake is between the months of November and June. The weather is quite pleasant at that time of the year. The Gurudongmar Lake freezes completely during the winter months and is a treat to the eyes. However, due to paucity of oxygen at the site, it is better not to stay overnight at the destination.