Gurudongmar Lake

Gurudongmar Lake in Sikkim

Author: Vedant Chettri
Date: 2020-03-26

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Atop the beautiful Himalayan range, covered on one side by the mountains, lies the pulchritudinous Gurudongmar Lake at a whooping altitude of 17800 feet. The Gurudongmar lake has a unique shape of a footprint when viewed from an aerial perspective. This lake is one of the highest in the world and a must-visit lake for travelers coming to Sikkim. Just a few kilometers up north is the northern Indo-Chinese border. The Gurudongmar lake requires special permits for people to visit because of the lake’s location near the Chinese border. The beauty of The Gurudongmar Lake located in the footsteps of the beautiful snowcapped makes up for the cold weather and lack of oxygen near the lake.

Gurudongmar Lake - Sikkim

Gurudongmar Lake - Sikkim

The Gurudongmar lake, by many, is believed to be a religious site, and the lake’s water is believed to possess mystical healing powers. The lake’s water is also believed to grant children to issueless couples. Folklore has it that Guru Padmasambhava, founder of Tibetan Buddhism, on way back from Tibet crossed the Gurudongmar lake. The people living near the Gurudongmar lake pleaded to the Guru Rinpoche about how the water of the Gurudongmar lake froze during winter and drinking water was inaccessible to them as the lake was their only source. The Guru then touched a part of the Gurudongmar lake with his palm. That part of the holy Gurudongmar lake then stooped freezing during winters and to this day the lake does not freeze during winters. Since then the Gurudongmar lake has been deemed sacred and the lake’s water is carried by the visitors in bottles. The banks of the Gurudongmar lake also host a monastery for Guru Padmasambhava. This monastery is believed to grant wishes to people who come there with a pure heart there. Visitors as well as army officers posted in the Indo-Chinese border, come to offer their prayers at this monastery and touch the water of the holy lake.

The way to Gurudongmar Lake is a beautiful but long route. The scenic road has huge Himalayan mountains looking down at it as if they are observing the travelers coming there. The landscape resembles that of the Tibetan plateau and has very similar flora and fauna. Lucky people on the route may spot a species of Pika, a tailless rabbit, called the Ochotona Sikimaria. This species of Pika is only limited to this region of Himalayas and is a keystone species of the ecosystem in this region. Even though the road to Gurudongmar Lake might be a rough beauty, the view of the lake when you reach Gurudongmar Lake will make you forget all the bumps you had along the way.

Way towards Gurudongmar Lake - Sikkim

Way towards Gurudongmar Lake - Sikkim

While visiting the Gurudongmar Lake a night’s stop is required in the small village of Lachen. This might be a small village but the community there has banned the use of single-use plastic. The people of the village have told the taxi drivers to advise the tourists to not get any plastic bottles or plastic items to the village. The trash left back by the visitors even near the lake was cleaned by the locals. The small community over there is aware of climate change and is doing its best to tackle it so visitors are advised to respect it and learn from the villagers of Lachen. While returning from Gurudongmar Lake a stop in the hot springs of Yumthang valley is a must, as it is believed to possess medicinal properties due to the Sulphur released when the waters heat up in the rocks.

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