Lakes in Sikkim

Gurudongmar Lake

Gurudongmar Lake or Gurudogmar Lake is one of the highest lakes in the world, located at an altitude of 17,100 ft (5,210 m). It lies in the province of North Sikkim, India, only some 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) south of Chinese border.This fresh-water lake is located northeast of the Kangchenjunga range in a high plateau area connected with the Tibetan Plateau. Gurudongmar lake provides one of the source streams of the Teesta River. The source of Teesta, the Tso Lhamo Lake, lies some 5 km (3.1 mi) to the east. One can seek permission from the army to trek from Gurudongmar Lake to Tso Lhsmo Lake. The lake remains completely frozen in the winter months from November to Mid-May.The lake is named after Padmasambhava, the Indian tantric Buddhist who conducted rituals here. It is said that this is why, even at the height of winter, one portion of the lake never freezes. Guru Nanak, founder of Sikhism religion, visited many of the places where Padmasambhava prayed at, including this lake in North Sikkim. At the local people's request for water, Guru Nanak, with his 'dang' (a long stick) broke upper layer of ice & said, "Water of this lake will never freeze". People named this lake 'guru dang mar' meaning created with the dang of Guru Nanak.

Menmecho Lake

Menmecho Lake is a mountain lake located in East Sikkim district in the state of Sikkim, India. It lies on the way to the Jelepla Pass and is situated at a distance of 20 kilometres (12 mi) ahead of the Tsongmo Lake. It is the source of the river Rangpo chu, a tributary of the River Teesta. The waters of the lake are sourced by melting snow in summer, and the monsoons in the rainly season. Located twenty kilometers ahead of Tsomgo is the much larger Menmecho Lake at an altitude of 12,500 ft. It is a stunningly beautiful lake with snow cover from early winter to late spring. It is surrounded by a rich, varied forest and some rather interesting rock formations. The lake is famous for its trout and a farm to cultivate these fish also exists nearby. Fishing is allowed at Menmecho Lake but you have to obtain a permit from Gangtok and ascertain the availability of fishing gear. Accommodation for the visitors coming here is available at the dak bungalow and tourist lodge near the lake.

Tsomgo Lake

Tsomgo Lake, also known as Tsongmo Lake or Changu Lake, is a glacial lake in the East Sikkim of the Indian state of Sikkim, some 40 kilometres (25 mi) from the capital Gangtok. Located at an elevation of 3,753 m (12,313 ft), the lake remains frozen during the winter season. The lake surface reflects different colours with change of seasons and is held in great reverence by the local Sikkimese people. Buddhist monks prognosticated after studying the changing colours of the lake. The lake is surrounded by steep mountains which are covered with snow during winter. During summer the snow cover melts and forms the source for the lake. The lake which remains frozen in winter season, some times extending up to May, receives an average annual precipitation of 1,183 millimetres (46.6 in) with temperatures recorded in the range of 0–25 °C (32–77 °F). The lake is about 40 kilometres (25 mi) away from Gangtok on the Gangtok-Nathula highway. Further, the road to Nathu La skirts the lake on the north side. The Chinese border crossing is only some 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) east-northeast in a straight line, but some 18 kilometres (11 mi) by road.The lake is formed in an oval shape and has a surface area of 24.47 hectares (60.5 acres). The maximum length of the lake is 836 metres (2,743 ft) and has a maximum width of 427 metres (1,401 ft). The maximum depth reported is 15 metres (49 ft) while the average depth is 4.58 metres (15.0 ft). The lake water quality is of moderate turbidity. The lake is the venue for the Guru Purnima festival which is also the Raksha Bandhan festival when the faith healers known as Jhakris of Sikkim assemble at the lake area to derive benefits from the healing qualities of the lake waters. Alpine forests cover the catchment of the lake.After the winter season ends in middle of May, the periphery of lake has scenic blooms of flower species of rhododendrons (the state tree of Sikkim), primulas, blue and yellow poppies, irises and so forth. Also seen in the precincts of the lake are several species of birds including Brahminy ducks. Wildlife seen includes the red panda. Tourist attractions at the lake site include joy rides on decorated yaks and mules where kiosks offer variety of food and drinks.There is also a small Shiva temple on the bank of the lake.As the lake is located in a restricted area it is essential for all Indians visiting the area to obtain permits. In case of foreign nationals special permit is essential.

Khecheopalri Lake

Khecheopalri Lake, originally known as Kha-Chot-Palri (meaning the heaven of Padmasambhava), is a lake located near Khecheopalri village, 147 kilometres (91 mi) west of Gangtok in the West Sikkim district of the Northeastern Indian state of Sikkim. Located 34 kilometres (21 mi) to the northwest of Pelling town, the lake is sacred for both Buddhists and Hindus, and is believed to be a wish fulfilling lake. The local name for the lake is Sho Dzo Sho, which means "Oh Lady, Sit Here". The popularly known name of the lake, considering its location is Khecheopalri Lake, ensconced in the midst of the Khechoedpaldri hill, which is also considered a sacred hill. The lake is an integral part of the much revered valley of "Demazong" meaning valley of rice. This landscape is also known as a land of hidden treasures blessed by Guru Padmasambhava. The Khecheopalri Lake is also part of Buddhist religious pilgrimage circuit involving the Yuksom, the Dubdi Monastery in Yuksom, Pemayangtse Monastery, the Rabdentse ruins, the Sanga Choeling Monastery, and the Tashiding Monastery. An interesting feature of the lake is that leaves are not allowed to float on the lake, which is ensured by the birds which industriously pick them up as soon as they drop into the lake surface. The Khecheopalri Lake and the Khangchendzonga National Park are conserved from the biodiversity perspective with ecotourism andpilgrimage as essential off shoots. As a result, their recreational and sacredness values are enhanced. The climate prevailing in the lake region is monsoonal. The maximum and minimum temperatures recorded are 24 °C (75 °F) and 4 °C (39 °F). Now, there is a lake Jetty that leads to the front of the lake and from where prayers and incense are offered. Prayer wheels are fixed along the jetty with prayer flags and Tibetan inscriptions, adding to the piety of the place. Annual Buddhist rituals from the readings of the Naysul prayer book, which describes the origin of Sikkim and has several tantric secret prayers, are chanted at the lake.

Cholamu Lake

Cholamu Lake is the 14th highest lake of the world and the highest lake of India. A mighty  elevation of 18000 feet from the sea level takes Cholamu lake to the top of the “highest lakes” list . While coming down the slope around 300 feet from Dongkha La pass ( 18300 feet ) , one gets the first glimpses of this rather moderately sized , almost frozen lake. Dongkha La is the north most Sikkim route which leads to Tibet border, which is just 5 kms from Dongkha La.  This special geographical location of Cholamu lake makes it special and also makes it a very sensitive army area with Chinese army always putting pressure on international borders. Cholamu lake being just 5 – 6 kms  away  from the Tibet border , is nearly off limits for commonplace tourists . One needs special permits, from Army and Sikkim police/administration to visit Cholamu lake. A normal tourist permit will only be issued to visit Cholamu Lake only when one has Army's permit in place. Normally foreign nationals are not allowed to visit north most areas of Sikkim (this is unlike Ladakh where both foreign nationals and Indians are allowed to visit Tso Moriri Lake which shares its borders with China). Only Indians can get these special permits to visit two of the highest lakes in India that falls in this region, Cholamu Lake and Gurudongmar Lake. Best time to visit Cholamu lake is October and November, one can expect clear sky during this season of the year. he journey starts from Gangtok , state capital of Sikkim , one can reach Gangtok from NJP or Siliguri ,these are the nearest railway station . Nearest airport is Bagdogra (Siliguri). Gangtok (4,715 ft)  to Mangan  (3950 ft) 66 KM  to Chungthang  (5600 feet) 34 KM. Till Chungthang  the route is same for both, if you are planning to trek up to the lake or ride your bike to Cholamu lake. If you are on your car then head towards Lachen. Chungthang  (5600 feet)  to Lachen  (9,800 ft) 22KM  to Thangu   (13000ft) 30KM to Cholamu lake  (18000 feet) 40 KM. If you are trekking with your team then head towards Lachung. Chungthang  to  Lachung  (9,600 ft) 25 KM to Yumthang Valley (11,800 ft) 25 KM to  Zero Point 32 KM (zadong) /Yumesamdong  (16000 ft) (trek starts from this point) to Dongkha La  and then to  Cholamu lake (18000 feet).

Lampokhari Lake

Aritar is a region in the East Sikkim district of the Indian state of Sikkim under Rongli Sub-Division. It is known for its natural and landscaped beauty. It is located on the edge of the Himalayas, and can be reached in about four hours' drive from Gangtok via either Pakyong or Rangpo. Isolated from the rest of the state, on the far eastern border of Sikkim and bounded by Mt. Kanchendzonga, the region is characterized by lush forest, mountains and rivers. The Aritar Lake (Ghati-Tso) is a nearby attraction, as are traditional villages and monasteries such as Lingsay. Visitors may also stay in a British-built bungalow of 1895 located 0.5 kilometres (0.31 mi) below the lake. Lampokhari Lake is one of the oldest natural lake in Sikkim and recently artificially constructed to facilitate boating for the tourists. At an altitude of 4600 ft (1,400 m) it is the only lake with boating facility in Sikkim. This serene Lake, surrounded by lush greenery and is about 350 meters in length and 75 meters wide. Shaped curiously like a human foot, this lake, although natural, has been recently provided with artificial embankment.

Kathok Lake

Kathok Lake is situated on the way to Norbugang Throne in Yuksam, west Sikkim there is a beautiful sacred Lake known as 'Kathok Tsho' or Kathok Lake. This Lake is regarded as the 'Lahtsho' or soul lake of Lama Kathok Kuntu Zangpo, one of the pioneer lamas who introduced Buddhism to this land in 1642 A.D. He sanctified this lake for the purpose of his oracular practices. Lamas perform Tru-sol or purification ceremony every year to retain its sanctity. A newly restored monastery named as 'Kathok Wosel Ling' is located above this lake.

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