Gurudongmar Lake: a breathtaking beauty both literally and metaphorically

Author: Hitaishi Gautam
Date: 2018-10-12

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As an individual hailing from Siliguri, the hot plains of West Bengal, I had often times heard of Sikkim and its extremely heart-pleasing tourist sights. Come every summer and beautiful pictures of these chilly places would surface all over my social media, the courtesy of lucky pals and relatives whose plans of vacations actually yielded into something. And as for me, I would reluctantly hit the like button and maybe leave a comment or two about how I longed for having such vacations myself.

So finally when I moved to Sikkim last year (2017) to pursue my higher studies did my ever longed heart get the opportunity to visit one of the many great places that Sikkim is widely known for. I mentally checked off Gurudongmar Lake with a big red marker of my places to visit list.

On the 10th of November 2017, a group of 8+2 (strangers) took off as part of a package deal that promised us the best time in the northern part of Sikkim for a weekend. And I can for sure validate that the package didn't let us down.

We reached Lachen, the nearest settlement to the Lake that is 67km away from the beauty, around 7:00 in the evening. The chill got to us but lethargy had no place in our schedule. With dead mobile networks and extreme zeal for the new place, we cleaned ourselves in our assorted lodge rooms and walked out to see what we could find. We landed up relishing the local drink called Tongba to overcome the chill near a cosy fireplace in a small, nearly thatched village inn.

After various rounds of drunken laughter and warm cheeks, the bed felt a lot more welcoming.
Come the next morning, it was our day to live the Gurudongmar experience. The driver of our vehicle honked exactly at 4 am and that was that. We were up and ready in no time, even at that godforsaken hour, when regularly it would be as good as midnight for us.

The journey was enthusiastic in the first hour. Even the darkness of the extremely cold morning couldn't dull our vibes. With blaring music and over thumping hearts, we enjoyed the extremely jerky journey among wild rocks and uncarpeted roadway. As dawn broke, sleep started seeping in. One by one our comrades started giving in to the chilly air and fell into deep sleep on each other's shoulders and arms. Next thing we know, we were stopping at an army area settlement for our breakfast. The place was teeming with tourist vehicles and hopeful but sleepy faces. The best part was to see the bikers who were journeying on their motorbikes facing all the severity and yet going on. A quick assorted breakfast comprising steaming tea and fresh bread and butter was all the break we needed. Another one hour and we'd be seeing the lake.

Gurudongmar was breathtaking; both literally and metaphorically. It is one of the highest lakes in India, located at an altitude of 17,800 ft. It lies in the middle of nowhere. Hills of sand surround the vicinity. The lake is fed by glaciers and remains frozen during the winter months, from November to mid-May.