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Tsomgo or Changu a Must-Visit Lake in Sikkim

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

Some places of Sikkim and Changu Lake

About Tsomgo or Changu Lake

Nestled in the lofty mountains, the snow-fed Tsomgo or Changu Lake is situated at an elevation of around 12,000 feet above the sea level in East Sikkim, India.

The 2-hour (nearly) drive from Gangtok, the capital city of Sikkim, to the lake is through the picturesque scenic views, serpentine roads, and high mountains.

Visiting the oval-shaped lake and witnessing its serene beauty is a unique experience. The pristine water of the lake, and the towering mountains in the backdrop make the place look surreal.

According to one of the legends, Buddhist monks in the early days used to study the lake water color to predict the future.

Tsomgo means “source of water” in Bhutia language with “Tso” meaning “lake” and “mgo” meaning “head.”

A close shot of the lake

A close shot of the lake

Sikkim—a Treasure Trove of Scenic Beauty

Dotted with grand statues, fluttering colored flags, and beautiful monasteries, the land allures travelers throughout the year.

The lakes of Sikkim, be it Gurudongmar Lake or any other, fascinate travelers with their uniqueness and splendor.

Why Is the Lake Popular?

The lake is historically significant because of its location. It lies in the ancient Gangtok‒Lhasa trade route between Sikkim and Tibet.

Tsomgo or Changu Lake is spread across an area of 2,743 feet (length) and 1,401 feet (breadth). The lake has a depth of 15 feet and surrounded by towering mountains.

Walking around the bank of the lake, basking in its serenity, or enjoying the cool breeze is a unique experience. Mesmerizing scenic views and the bewitching beauty of the lake is indescribable and make the place worth visiting.

Two important spots, i.e., New Baba Mandir (shrine built in the honor of a brave Indian soldier) and Nathu La (Indo China border) can be accessed easily from the lake. You can drive further to a beautiful, off beat destination with 32 hairpin bends, called Zuluk.

The lake is also a stopover for migratory birds, therefore, the place entice birders from various corners of the world. The lake region is rich in Alpine vegetation attracting botanists to study the various types of plants.

Different Looks of the Lake

The lake dons different looks in summer and winter.

With lovely flowers adding more beauty to the lake in summer and autumn, its appeal becomes unmatched.

The lake remains covered with ice during the winter and the beauty is indescribable.

Sacred Lake

Tsomgo Lake is revered by the Sikkimese as a sacred lake. There are prayer wheels adjacent to the lake.

Every year, Jhakris—the faith healers of Sikkim—across the state gather here on Guru Purnima to offer prayers.

Other Attractions of the Changu Lake

1. Yak Safari

Tourists can opt for a yak safari around the lake.

Yak Safari and Ropeway

A yak with a woolen horn gear basking in the sun

A yak with a woolen horn gear basking in the sun

Travelers need to climb the stairs to reach the ticket counter of the ropeway

Travelers need to climb the stairs to reach the ticket counter of the ropeway

2. Tsomgo Passenger Ropeway

The cable car ropeway ride offers a spectacular panoramic view of the lake and mountains from quite a high altitude. It is Asia's top highest ropeway.

The cable car ride begins from the lower station (at an altitude of around 12,900 ft) located a little above and on the side of Tsomgo Lake to reach the upper station at a height of around 14,500 ft.

The view from such an altitude is captivating and the lake region and other places look surreal in winters.

3. Stalls

There are stalls nearby the lake selling tea, coffee, and snacks. Also, some of them rent out snow boots, jackets, and other woolens during the winter.

Permit

Travelers need permit to visit the lake, as the lake is a protected area.

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Points to Remember

Due to heavy snowfall during the winter, the place may not be accessible as the roads get covered with snow. So, keep this in mind if you are planning a vacation in winter. Also, carry heavy woolens to bear the cold.

Things to Do in Winter

The charm of the place increases by several folds in winter. The white attire look of the lake region is spectacular and fascinates travelers.

Travelers enjoy the thrill of winter by indulging in activities, such as snow walking or playing with snow.

Preferable Time to Visit the Lake

  • October to early to mid December
  • March to May

Though monsoon may not be considered the preferable time to visit the lake, the season has a different charm of its own in the misty mountains.

Nearest Railway Station and Airport

1. New Jalpaiguri (NJP) Station/Bagdogra Airport (West Bengal)

There are several options to reach Gangtok from both Bagdogra Aiport and New Jalpaiguri Station.

You can hire a shared taxi or reserve a cab to reach Gangtok. If your tour is organized by a registered tour operator, transportation will be organized by the operator.

The drive takes around 4.5 hours through breathtaking scenic views—rolling hills, meandering roads, gushing Teesta river, and lush greenery.

2. Helicopter Service Between Bagdogra Airport and Gangtok

You can opt the helicopter service to fly from Bagdogra Airport to Gangtok, which takes around 35 minutes.

Reserve the seats in advance as the seats are limited and there are rules related to weight.

3. Nearest Airport (Sikkim)

Pakyong Airport is around 31 km away from Gangtok. It is one of India's highest airports.

What to Remember Before Booking Flights for Pakyong Airport

The flight timing may alter or the flight to Pakyong Airport, the lone airport of Sikkim, may get cancelled due to poor weather condition and low visibility.

Plan your itinerary accordingly as flights are limited. If the flight gets cancelled or delayed, the itinerary will be impacted. It's better to keep an alternate arrangement or keep a day as buffer.

For Navigation Purpose

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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

Sneha Bhat from India on May 14, 2020:

True madam...

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

Thank you, Sneha, for stopping by and reading my article.

Sikkim is one of my favorite holiday destinations. Its mesmerizing scenic beauty and serenity revive my mind and body. Whenever I think of spending some days amidst the lofty mountains and lush greenery away from the city chaos, Sikkim always pops up in my mind.

The people are friendly and gentle.

Sneha Bhat from India on May 14, 2020:

Hello madam... Thanks for sharing this article. This article reminded me about our sweet memories visiting Sikkim during 2009. Awesome scenaries... Baichung Butia was the driver who took us to Sikkim sightseeing and it was one of most adventurous trip !!!

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

Rightly said, Avyukth, nature's wonders are innumerable. The beauty of the lake varies in each season. In the winter (currently), it wears the white sheet of ice. While during the summer and spring, colorful flowers adorn the lake. The panoramic vista of the lake amazes travelers. Sometimes due to snowfall, the road leading to the lake remains closed. The view of the lake and the surrounding from top in a cable car is spectacular.

Avyukth Krishna from Bangalore on January 03, 2020:

I was under the impression that only rivers form from glaciers. I was pleasantly surprised to discover this Glacial lake. Nature's beauty is unparalleled and the wonders are innumerable . Thank you for this educative article !

Prantika Samanta (author) from Kolkata, India on January 03, 2020:

Whenever you plan a vacation regardless of romantic, family, solo, or adventurous trip, do remember to skip the monsoon period, though the rainy season has its own charm but land slides may pose a challenge. Also, during severe winter, due to heavy snowfall, the roads remain block and the ropeway remains closed. The view from the ropeway during the winter is spectacular. It's white everywhere and Tsomgo or Changu Lake is covered with snow. Travelers love playing on the snow. Do remember to carry heavy woolens during the winter.

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

You have very well explained the wonderful places of Sikkim. Thanks for sharing this. As always your images are very attractive to me. I will definitely refer the points you mentioned while planning for any trip here.

Prantika Samanta (author) from Kolkata, India on November 28, 2019:

Glad you have liked it. Please do visit.

Luis G Asuncion from City of San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan, Philippines on November 24, 2019:

Wow, I would like to experience this for real. Thanks for sharing it.

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

Thank you. Glad that you have liked the place.

Suchismita Pradhan from India on November 02, 2019:

Very informative with enticing pics .your article made me put this amazing place in my bucket list.Thanks for sharing

Prantika Samanta (author) from Kolkata, India on November 01, 2019:

Thank you so very much. I love Sikkim, and the land keeps calling me. I am delighted that you have liked the article. Please do visit the place. You are going to have a great vacation.

Prantika Samanta (author) from Kolkata, India on November 01, 2019:

Thank you, Peggy, for our kind words. I am glad to know that you have liked the photos and descriptions.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on November 01, 2019:

Thank you for sharing this part of the world with us. It is beautiful judging from your photos and descriptions.

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on November 01, 2019:

Beautifully presented article of these wonderful places in Sikkim, with abundance of natural beauty.

Your travel articles are wonderfully done and informative. Hope to visit this sometime in the future.

Thanks for sharing this. Many would be benefitted by your article.

Prantika Samanta (author) from Kolkata, India on October 30, 2019:

Sikkim is such a beautiful place that you can visit it more than once. So,keep the lake in your wish list, and visit it next time.

Prantika Samanta (author) from Kolkata, India on October 30, 2019:

Thank you, Niks. Sikkim is an amazing place blessed with mountains, waterfalls, lakes, flora, fauna, and the people are friendly. Keep it in your wish list and if you love hill stations, you are going to fall in love with the land. I can vouch for that.

Prantika Samanta (author) from Kolkata, India on October 30, 2019:

Thank you. The view from the cable car during winter, specifically this one, is spectacular. The view of a thick sheet of snow below, frozen lake, meandering roads is a sheer bliss. But the temperature is quite low and the altitude is high. If vising the place with preventive measures, it would definitely be a wonderful visit.

Abitha from Chennai, Tamilnadu on October 29, 2019:

Prantika.

I love cable car rides; they offer the best views. A detailed article loaded with useful info. Lovely clicks as well, Cheers!

Niks from India on October 29, 2019:

Going to Sikkim is on my list. This article has raised my curiosity about this place. It's very informative and the photos make the reader plan a trip to this amazing lake. Thank you for sharing such a wonderful travel trip.

Natasha Tungare from India on October 29, 2019:

I have been to Sikkim!! I missed this lake!

Prantika Samanta (author) from Kolkata, India on October 28, 2019:

Thank you so much for reading my article and finding it helpful. Perhaps the things are much better now. Nothing went as per our plan that day. However, the next few days of our trip was memorable. All's well that ends well.

Swapnil Ghosh from Kolkata on October 28, 2019:

Thank you for sharing your experience of the place as well as of the problems you faced with the airlines. I'll surely keep in mind the points you made while making plans to travel to this place.

Prantika Samanta (author) from Kolkata, India on October 28, 2019:

Thank you, Arpita. I am so glad that you have liked it.

Arpita on October 28, 2019:

Always a pleasure reading your articles Prantika...descriptive and informative

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

Thank you so very much. Delighted to know that you have liked my article.

Swapnil Ghosh from Kolkata on October 26, 2019:

A very informative article. Would love to visit the place and discover it. Thanks for this.

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

Thank you, Surya. Please do visit Sikkim, it is very beautiful.

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

Thank you, Murali, and I am delighted to know that the article took you 10 years back. It was my second visit to Gangtok. Indeed it's a wonderful place.

Surya Sashank Rasinkar on October 26, 2019:

As a kid I always thought to visit Sikkim. This article showered it's beauty on me and showed me why I need to visit

Halemane Muralikrishna from South India on October 26, 2019:

Hi Ms Prantika, I felt as if I have visited Gangtok once again after ten years. Wonderful article with very good eye-catching photos. Sikkim is a really an incredible place for tourists.

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