Located at the height of 17,100 feet above the sea level, Gurudongmar Lake, located in Sikkim, is one of the fifteen highest lakes in the world. It is also the second highest lake in Sikkim, after the Cholamu Lake located at the height of 18,000 feet. The splendid and scenic beauty of the place is breathtaking and attracts tourists from all across the world. Gurudongmar Lake also has great religious significance attached to it, and the beautiful view of Mount Siniolchu and Kanchenjunga from the lake is a sight to behold and cherish. The water of Gurudongmar Lake is believed to have healing powers, and many tourists carry the water with them on their way back.
Encircled by snow-capped mountains and crystal clear icy water, Gurudongmar is considered to be a very holy lake. It is one of the sources of River Teesta, which flows through Sikkim, West Bengal and Bangladesh, to finally merge with the Bay of Bengal. There lies a 'Sarva Dharma Sthal' nearby, which is also a very popular place of worship for all religions. The Gurudongmar Lake is located in Lachen, a small and beautiful town in North Sikkim. A night stay at this town is highly recommended before visiting the stunning lake. The strategic location of the mesmerising Gurudongmar Lake and its proximity to other popular attractions further appeals to the tourists, and make it one of the most popular attractions in Sikkim.
Legend of Gurudongmar Lake
Gurudongmar Lake is named after the famous Guru Padmasambhava, who was also known as Guru Rinpoche. This saint was the founder of Tibetan Buddhism and had visited the lake in the 8th century. The frozen condition of the lake is also linked to the saint, and it is believed that while on his way back from Tibet, he realized that it was worthy of reverence since it represented the holy location of Chhoedten Nyima.
The lake, however, remained frozen throughout large parts of the year, and thus there was no way that it could meet the drinking water needs of the people. The locals then appealed to the guru, who decided to help them. He placed his hand on the part of the lake, and the ice in that particular spot began to melt. Ever since, the mesmerizing Gurudongmar Lake is considered to be holy, and people carry back the water of the lake in containers since the water is considered to be sacred and possess healing properties.
Gurudongmar Lake was also blessed by Guru Nanak in the 15th century when he passed through the area. According to this version of the legend, the locals appealed to him to make the ice melt, so that they could use the water. Guru Nanak touched a part of the lake with his walking stick, and it became free of snow ever since. He also blessed the lake and stated that whosoever would take its water would gain strength and virility.
Things to Do Gurudongmar Lake
The sight of the Gurudongmar Lake is a visual treat for the eyes and manages to please everyone who visits it. A lot of visitors also love to go trekking from the lake, since it is the base station for several treks. The Sarva Dharma Sthala, which is a famous spiritual attraction for peace seekers, is popularly called as the temple for all religions and is located quite close to the lake.
The Tso Lhamu Lake, which is the source of water for the Teesta River, is located about 9 kilometres away, and can also be explored along with the main attraction. The other places that can be visited along with the trip to Gurudongmar lake are the Lachen village and Thangu village, both of which are just 3-4 hours drive away from the Gurudongmar Lake. In summers, the exciting annual Yak Race called the Thangu takes place at the Lachen and is visited by numerous people who wish to enjoy this amazing festival.
Best Time to Visit Gurudongmar Lake
The best time to visit Gurudongmar Lake is between November and June as the weather is quite pleasant at that time of the year. Summers are moderate and quite pleasant in Lachen. An annual yak race called Thangu takes place here every summer. During winter, Lachen can get quite cold. Gurdongmar Lake freezes completely during the winter months and is a treat to the eyes.
How to Reach Gurudongmar Lake
Air : The nearest Domestic Airport is Bagdogra Airport which is around four and half hour drive from Lachen. You will have to hire a taxi from the airport to reach Lachen where taxis and jeeps are available to go to the lake.
Rail : The nearest Railway Station to Gurudongmar Lake is Darjeeling Railway Station which is connected to most of the cities of Sikkim and is at a distance of 171 Kms from Lachen. Siliguri, Sukna, Tindharia, Mahanadi, Dilaram, Sonada, Jorebungalow and Ghum are the cities it is well connected with.
Road : Lachen is connected through Sikkim State Road Transport Corporation (SSRTC) and some private travel services to all the major cities of Sikkim. Regular buses ply from Lachen to these states. From Lachen, you can get jeeps and taxis to reach Gurudongmar Lake.