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Why Does Gurudongmar Lake Deserve to Be in a Traveler's Bucket List?

Educated as a microbiologist, trained as an editor, a quintessential nomad soul grounded to the earth. Loves anything that touches her soul

Flat land on both sides of the road and hills, brown- or black-colored coat yaks grazing in low oxygen and in extremely cold weather. The high capacity of their lungs and insulation of their coat help them survive there.

Flat land on both sides of the road and hills, brown- or black-colored coat yaks grazing in low oxygen and in extremely cold weather. The high capacity of their lungs and insulation of their coat help them survive there.

Gurudongmar Lake, Yumthang Valley, and Other Places in Sikkim

North Sikkim

North Sikkim tops the bucket list for adventure travelers. Traveling to North Sikkim is bliss for its enchanting beauty – the pristine lakes, a lovely flower valley, serene monasteries, and a hot spring in North Sikkim .

One of the highlights of North Sikkim is Gurudongmar Lake situated at an altitude over 17,000 feet above sea level.

Other places in Sikkim, such as Namchi, Ravangla, Pelling, Yuksom, Rinchenpong, Aritar, and Zuluk, also offer bewitching views.

Sikkim—an Incredible Place

Famed for its picturesque hamlets, gushing waterfalls, lofty mountains, lush green scenery, beautiful orchids, colorful flowers, magnificent monasteries, amazing rivers, scenic valleys, snow-clad mountains, spectacular lakes, wonderful hot springs, and beautiful tea gardens, Sikkim has been one of the desirable holiday destinations for travelers around the globe.

Blue sky, snow-capped mountains, lonely road

Blue sky, snow-capped mountains, lonely road

The sun kissing the snowy peaks

The sun kissing the snowy peaks

Itinerary for North Sikkim and Gangtok—5 Nights and 6 Days

DayPlanOvernight Stay

1

Drive to Gangtok from Bagdogra Aiport/NJP Railway Station

Gangtok

2

Drive to North Sikkim via sightseeing and Tung

Lachung

3

Yumthang Valley, Hot spring, Katao, and Zero Point visit and then drive to Lachen

Lachen

4

Gurudongmar Lake, Chopta Valley, Kala Pathar, Bhim Nala Falls and then drive to Gangtok

Gangtok

5

Gangtok full day excursion—Changu Lake and New Baba Mandir visit

Gangtok

6

Drive to Bagdogra Airport/NJP Railway Station from Gangtok

Day 1: Gangtok

The drive from Bagdogra Airport to Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim, is approximately 4.5 hours through the lush greenery, serpentine roads, and rolling hills. The beautiful Teesta River accompanies you to make the journey more interesting.

On the way to Gangtok from Bagdogra Airport by road

On the way to Gangtok from Bagdogra Airport by road

Day 2: Lachung via Tung

Lachung is a quiet, picterusque hamlet tucked in the mountains in North Sikkim. It takes around 6 hours to reach Lachung via Tung from Gangtok by car.

Disposable plastic water bottles are not allowed beyond Tung to curb pollution. So, dispose the bottles if you are carrying any in Tung, and purchase reusable water bottles from the shops there.

As Lachung is situated in a high altitude, winters are freezing while summers are pleasant. So, do not forget to carry heavy woollens and body warmers if you are planning to visit it in winter.

Day 3: Lachung Sightseeing and Lachen

The places you can go from Lachung include:

  • Yumthang Valley
  • Hot Spring
  • Zero Point
  • Katao

Yumthang Valley is adorned with colorful rhododendrons and other lovely flowers during the spring. The valley has a beautiful lake and lofty mountains in the backdrop. The beautiful, colorful flowers make the place more scenic.

The serenity and beauty of Katao and Zero Point are unmatched.

Lachen is another high-altitude, beautiful, quiet village in North Sikkim. It is the stopover for heading to the pristine Gurudongmar Lake.

Day 4: Off to Gurudongmar Lake

Start around 6 am for Gurudongmar Lake, and en route, you can visit Thangu and Chopta Valleys. It takes around 3.5 hours (approximately) by car to reach the lake from Lachen.

The road is steep and needs cautious driving to avoid any mishap. The drive is through rugged terrain.

Small cars are not allowed to travel to North Sikkim.

Thangu Inn and Checkpost

The first stop will be in Thangu Valley for having a quick breakfast and getting the required permission to visit the lake.

During the winter, piping hot noodles and coffee by the fireplace in the inn lift your energy level.

The temperature during the winter is below the freezing point, so cover yourselves with heavy woolens, jackets, body warmers, gloves, caps, and thermal sets.

Desert-like region at a high altitude

Desert-like region at a high altitude

Experience the Serenity and Beauty

Several bikers flock to the lake, as the journey is a memorable experience.

No sign of inhabitation due to low oxygen level. The lonely road, the arid terrain (very less vegetation), yaks, and snow-clad mountains showcase the beauty of North Sikkim.

Acclimatization

Note that North Sikkim lies at a high altitude. The availability of oxygen in the air and temperature are low. So, acclimatization is crucial.

Travelers need to adapt themselves to the change in altitude and environment. So, plan to spend one day each in Lachung and Lachen before heading toward the lake. This would help the body accustom to the change in altitude.

Preventive Measures Against Altitude Sickness

While approaching the lake, some travelers may experience dizziness, nausea, headache, or breathing issues.

Keep rolling down the windowpane at regular intervals to inhale oxygen. You might not be able to keep the windows open for a long time due to the chill breeze and cold weather.

If you feel any type of uneasiness, head to Gangtok immediately.

Recommendation

  1. Consult your doctor before you plan a trip to North Sikkim.
  2. Carry portable oxygen cylinders if required. You can get them in medical shops in Gangtok. Keep a list of these shops ready beforehand.
  3. Read the instructions minutely, primarily regarding the age limit of children and elderly people for visiting the lake.
en-route-gurudongmar-lake-lonely-roads-arid-terrain-snow-clad-mountains-yaks-and-us-an-exhilarating-experience

Incredible Beauty of Gurudongmar Lake

Tucked in the lofty mountains, the beauty of the high-altitude, pristine lake is stunning.

The calm lake, the snow-clad mountains, the fluttering flags, the reflection of the surrounding hills and white clouds on the clear water, and the cool breeze exude serenity and tranquility.

Spending some time there relieves stress and is a good way to replenish energy.

The blue water of the lake is believed to have healing properties.

A sunny day - Gurudongmar Lake and snowy mountains

A sunny day - Gurudongmar Lake and snowy mountains

The lake encircled by mountains

The lake encircled by mountains

Things to Know Beforehand

TransportationAccommodationBest TIme to Visit Gurudongmar LakeDocuments (Both Original and Photocopies) Needed for Domestic Tourists

Train: Major Station-New Jalpaiguri Station Refer to irctc for Details

Gangtok-Hotels, Resorts, Homestays

Provided the roads are not blocked due to poor weather condition or landslides

For Adults (Any One of These Documents: Passport, Driving License, Voter Card)

Air: Bagdogra Airport

Lachung-Homestays/Hotels

April and May

For Children (Any One of These Documents): Passport, Birth Certificate (for Children Not Yet Amitted to School), School Certificate (for School Going Children)

Road: From New Jalpaiguri Station/Bagdogra Airport-Private/Shared/Pre-paid Taxis, Cabs Hired from Travel Operators

Lachen: Homestays/Hotels

October and November

Passport Size Photographs

Road from Gangtok to North Sikkim-Xylo, Tata Sumo, Toyota Innova, Mahindra Bolero

Gangtok Sightseeing-Four Seaters, Xylo, Tata Sumo, Toyota Innova, Mahindra Bolero

 

 

Favorable Time to Visit the Lake

Blame it on the poor weather conditions, especially during the monsoons and winters, the road to the lake is not accessible all year round.

The suitable time to visit the lake would be:

  • Mid-April to End of May
  • First few days of October (after the monsoon gets over) until the first week of December (before snowing begins)

Due to unpredictable weather conditions, these dates are subject to change.

Further Information

  • To know more about permits and other information, visit http://sikkimtourism.gov.in/
  • Always travel with registered tour operators listed in http://www.mca.gov.in
A yak with a black and white coat from a closer view, rocky land

A yak with a black and white coat from a closer view, rocky land

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 Prantika Samanta

Comments

Prantika Samanta (author) from Kolkata, India on May 14, 2020:

Thank you so much, Vikram. Your articles are wonderful and informative. Prior to writing an article, you conduct a thorough research. You are doing an amazing work. Keep it up.

Vikram Brahma from Assam, India on April 21, 2020:

Hey Prantika, you have written this article in so much details. By reading your article anyone can get right information. Really appreciate your writing efforts. Great my friend.

Prantika Samanta (author) from Kolkata, India on April 10, 2020:

Thank you, Meenal, for stopping by. Glad to know that you have liked the hub.

It is indeed a beautiful place and worth visiting.

Meenal from Singapore on April 10, 2020:

I thank you for writing such useful article. Also appreciate your efforts in mentioning things to know beforehand.

Prantika Samanta (author) from Kolkata, India on January 23, 2020:

Thank you so much, Jnanesh. Glad to know that you have liked my hub.

Jnanesh Sharma H from South India on January 22, 2020:

Wow, Ms Prantika that was an amazing article on the Gurudongmar lake, loved the way you write, befitting and easy to understand.

Prantika Samanta (author) from Kolkata, India on January 05, 2020:

Thank you, Avyukth. North Sikkim is beautiful and as it is at a high altitude, special care needs to be taken before heading out to North Sikkim. Acclimatization is an important factor that needs to be keep in mind before planning the trip. The oxygen level is low and breathing problem may pose a big problem. Certain aspects to be taken care if going on a bike. If the bike breaks down on the way to Gurudongmar Lake, there is no repairing shop nearby and the region has low level of oxygen and the weather is very cold. The army can rescue from such a situation. It is that severe.

Prantika Samanta (author) from Kolkata, India on January 05, 2020:

Thank you, Sumit. I love to pen my experience along with the itinerary and things to remember before planning the vacation. North Sikkim seeks special attention and especially visiting the lake as it is one of the high altitude lakes. Travelers must be aware of the important aspects beforehand so that their vacation becomes a memorable one. Acclimatization is crucial as the body needs to accommodate the change in the altitude. Many travelers are not aware of it and encounter severe challenges.

Prantika Samanta (author) from Kolkata, India on January 05, 2020:

Thank you, Prateek, and it is great to know that the article has helped you time travel. I would love to go again and am planning to visit it for the second time in 2020. The roads are currently blocked due to heavy snowfall. Once it becomes back to normal, I would visit the lake. This time on the bike as a pillion rider and experience the excitement. The cold wind, low level of oxygen, yaks, lofty mountains, rugged terrain lure me to visit there. I am definitely going and creating moments and making memories.

Avyukth Krishna from Bangalore on January 03, 2020:

I love how the article is both highly informative and interesting. The sights are truly breath taking and depict nature's beauty at its best ! I'd like to specially thank you for the table titled ' Things to know beforehand' . It has everything that a person who wants to undertake this journey needs to know and this would save a lot of time and effort . On the whole , brilliant article !

Sumit Chakrabarti from Kolkata on January 03, 2020:

Amazing article! I have a soft corner for the travel domain because I started my writing career as an online travel guide, and loved every bit of it. Sikkim is one of the seven sisters in Northeast India, and one of the fascinating places with breathtaking views! The article has perfectly portrayed the stunning landscapes and cultures with a seamless flow. The itinerary, things to know in advance and other key aspects in the article have given a clear roadmap to interested travelers. The video collage also deserves a special mention for capturing nature's beauty. Well done!

Prateek Jain from Madhya Pradesh, India on January 03, 2020:

Firstly I want to tell you that ilthe video which you share above have amazing images. I too have visited north Sikkim and Gangtok in 2016, it is a wonderful place and one should definitely visit their once in lifetime. After so many years again watching the image of that place and reading your journey guide I fell like I am.also travelling with you there. Wonderful article mam.thanks for sharing.

Prantika Samanta (author) from Kolkata, India on December 20, 2019:

One of the highest altitude lakes in the world. It is an amazing experience to witness the beauty at an altitude of over 17000 ft.

Nitin Khaire from Mumbai on December 20, 2019:

A very well written and informative article. The images are captivating. Thanks for so much information packed in this article.

Prantika Samanta (author) from Kolkata, India on October 29, 2019:

Thank you, Bhushan, for liking the article and finding it useful.

Prantika Samanta (author) from Kolkata, India on October 29, 2019:

Thank you, Rinita. I am glad that you have liked the article and find it useful. Indeed North Sikkim is beautiful.

Rinita Sen on October 29, 2019:

You are a terrific travel writer. The serenity of the lake and the surroundings was evident from your descriptions. The pictures were mesmerizing, too. I like how you provided handy travel tips along the way. North Sikkim is truly a wonder.

Bhushan Kummar from Mumbai on October 29, 2019:

Very comprehensive article. It not explains the everything about the place but how to reach there, what are the vehicles one should use and many other aspects which is very useful for a traveller.

Prantika Samanta (author) from Kolkata, India on October 26, 2019:

Thank you. If possible, pay a visit to the lake. But take appropriate measures before visiting the lake.

Surya Sashank Rasinkar on October 26, 2019:

Very good

Prantika Samanta (author) from Kolkata, India on October 26, 2019:

Thank you so much. Glad to know that you have liked it.

Dshibu from Nairobi on October 24, 2019:

wow the way you narrated, this is like taking a virtual tour to the place.

Prantika Samanta (author) from Kolkata, India on October 23, 2019:

Yes, it is. If you don't have a breathing problem, you can visit the place. But acclimatization is important.

Suchismita Pradhan from India on October 23, 2019:

Wow the place is a piece from heaven

Prantika Samanta (author) from Kolkata, India on October 13, 2019:

Thank you so very much. I am delighted that you have liked the article.

Aurobindhan S from Chennai on October 13, 2019:

Travelling to Sikkim through your article. You have detailed with attractive words to make us feel like live experience.

Prantika Samanta (author) from Kolkata, India on October 10, 2019:

Hello Paul,

I am delighted that you have liked the article and find it informative. Please do visit India.

Prantika Samanta (author) from Kolkata, India on October 10, 2019:

Hello Paul,

I am delighted that you have liked the article and find it informative. Please do visit India.

Paul Richard Kuehn from Udorn City, Thailand on October 10, 2019:

Thanks for sharing a very informative article. I have never visited India but certainly would like to go to the northeastern part.

Prantika Samanta (author) from Kolkata, India on October 02, 2019:

Thank you so much. Delighted to know that you have liked my article. Please do visit the place but read the Dos and Don'ts before you visit it.

digitalkp on October 02, 2019:

Your article is very nice and well narrated. Photographs are excellent. Thank you for sharring such a nice information.

I too have interest in visiting thist spot.

Prantika Samanta (author) from Kolkata, India on September 19, 2019:

Thank you, Shaloo. Yes, I second you, more and more place should take such steps.

Shaloo Walia from India on September 19, 2019:

Beautiful pics. Isn't it so great that disposable water bottles are not allowed there? I wish more and more places adopt such strict measures!

Prantika Samanta (author) from Kolkata, India on September 19, 2019:

Thank you, John, for reading the article. Hopefully, some day, the lay will be opened for all.

Prantika Samanta (author) from Kolkata, India on September 19, 2019:

Thank you, Peggy, for reading my article.

John Hansen from Gondwana Land on September 18, 2019:

This sounds like quite an amazing place and the lake beautiful. It is interesting that it is “the world’s first organic state” but as foreign nationals are forbidden to visit I would be unable to ever visit. Thank you for sharing.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on September 18, 2019:

This is a place that I will probably never get to see in person so thanks for writing about it and sharing your photos with us. Welcome to HubPages! I look forward to reading more of your articles.

Nithya Venkat from Dubai on September 17, 2019:

The lake is so beautiful, I hope I get to visit it someday. The photos are lovely and you have given detailed information about traveling. Enjoyed reading about your travel experience, thank you for sharing.

Prantika Samanta (author) from Kolkata, India on September 16, 2019:

Thank you so much. If possible, please do visit.

Dr Pran Rangan from Kanpur (UP), India on September 16, 2019:

Thanks for such an informative article. It's like a good traveling guide with all the required information about Sikkim. Sikkim has always fascinated me.

My son and his family have visited Gangtok. They are all praises for it. Your hub has motivated me to visit the place.

The high altitude won't pose any problem for me but my wife will definitely have problem as she isn't so fit.

Halemane Muralikrishna from South India on September 15, 2019:

When I took my age-old mother to Gangtok in 2010, she took bits of dried ginger. In high altitude, if you feel getting breathless, chewing a small piece of dry ginger, will warm-up your body and increase blood circulation, so that you will overcome breathlessness.

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on September 15, 2019:

A very well written and presented travel article, with excellent pictures and related information. I am sure, anyone traveling to this wonderful place would get all the useful suggestions and information, needed to plan this trip.

Getting medical advice, before settling off to a high altitude location is important and thanks for mentioning that.

Glad to meet you at HubPages, thanks for the follow and thanks for for sharing this wonderful article.

Prantika Samanta (author) from Kolkata, India on September 08, 2019:

Thank you.

Prantika Samanta (author) from Kolkata, India on September 08, 2019:

Thank you so much.

Sanjay Sharma from Mandi (HP) India on September 08, 2019:

Thanks for sharing your trip experience. The photographs are beautiful.

Prantika Samanta (author) from Kolkata, India on September 05, 2019:

Thank you. You will definitely go soon with your husband and daughter to various parts of Sikkim. To visit North Sikkim, I would suggest you to wait until your daughter turns 10.

Prantika Samanta (author) from Kolkata, India on September 05, 2019:

You are welcome. I think this will help people get the feel a little more than the still photographs.

Rajinder Soni from New Delhi, India on September 05, 2019:

Thanks for adding that awesome slideshow video and map. This is a complete package now.

Tathapi chaudhuri on September 05, 2019:

The answers are very to the point and helpful. It is great to get such an idea on a trip to Sikkim.i shall be planning a sikkim trip shortly with you if God wills

Prantika Samanta (author) from Kolkata, India on September 04, 2019:

Thank you. Even though we were initially a little nervous, we managed to complete the trip successfully. Indeed it was an incredible trip.

Liz Westwood from UK on September 04, 2019:

This is a fascinating account of your trip. It looks like it was well worth the effort.

array_74 on September 04, 2019:

Nice and informative. Like the way you have described ur experience and blended it.

Will it be possible to add a tour plan for beginners? Maybe names of trains that go or the flights, and a few good places to stay can help us.

Prantika Samanta (author) from Kolkata, India on September 04, 2019:

Thank you so much for your motivation. Glad to know that it is now in your wishlist. Please do visit the place and remember to take all the preventive measures that I have shared in my article. If you are going with a travel agent, please check whether the agent is a registered agent, the list you can find in www.mca.gov.in

Good luck and keep traveling.

Arpita Dasgupta on September 03, 2019:

Prantika Very well and beautifully described. Am sure your writing will inspire many people including me to go and visit the places you mentioned. Now this part of India is in my bucket list. Looking forward for many more articles from you. Best wishes! ☺

Rajinder Soni from New Delhi, India on September 03, 2019:

I have included Gurudongmar Lake in my itinerary after going through this excellent vivid description of this unique travel destination. Prantika, please tell whether there are trekking destinations around. And please add a map for us to reach this beautiful place.

This hubs needs to be read by adventure lovers and I will share this with my trek & travel group in Facebook.

Thank you so much for including your personal experience and lively photographs. Could you please add a video or two as those will help me and my friends get the real feel of the place.

All the information regarding government permits and the local rules have been explained in great detail.

Sreya on September 03, 2019:

I have never got chance to explore this place.. but you know what... Your vivid description has took all my heart away and literally, I wanna explore this place!

Sontosh Roy on September 03, 2019:

Useful content with places...

Prantika Samanta (author) from Kolkata, India on September 03, 2019:

Thank you.

Arpita on September 03, 2019:

Well written, informative article.

Aman Saha on September 03, 2019:

This is great. Awesome. Keep it up.

Ayan Pan on September 03, 2019:

Very nice and informative article.

Shovan on September 03, 2019:

Useful article

Prantika Samanta (author) from Kolkata, India on September 03, 2019:

The live version was amazing. If possible, please do visit. You will enjoy.

Saurav on September 03, 2019:

Excellent Article. Helpful information.

Prantika Samanta (author) from Kolkata, India on September 03, 2019:

Thank you so much.

Halemane Muralikrishna from South India on September 03, 2019:

Wav, Prantika, I felt as if I travelled myself all the way by the Teesta River, viewed Kanchangnga, very nice vivid article. Keep writing like this.

Abitha from Chennai, Tamilnadu on September 03, 2019:

That seems like a very adventurous trip! Loved the pictures, am sure the live version would have been spell binding, good travel info

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