A TREASURE OF NORTH SIKKIM..
Someone has truly said “Agar dharti par kahin swarg hai, to wo yahin hain…” and I agree with him from the core of my heart after visiting the pristine ” GURUDONGMAR LAKE”. Everyone will definitely get mesmerized by its surreal beauty.
The first thing that comes in my mind about the spellbound place is a beautiful, turquoise green water lake, surrounded by snow capped mountains. The picturesque, serene beauty of the place took my heart away.
It was my ardent wish to visit the place and my wish got fulfilled on the first week of November, 2018. Somehow we managed to take leave from our office for only 04 days. So we decided to visit Gurudongmar Lake only. The lake is 260km (approx) from NJP. It is not possible to reach the place in one day, minimum of two halts are necessary. This also helps in acclimatization of hectic high altitude trip.
Our tour itinerary was- Day 1– Maximum travelers choose Gangtok as their first halt. As we like off-beat destination, so we opt for, Singhik as our first halt. It is a small town in the Mangan subdivision. Singhik offers best view of Mt. Siniolchu and Kanchenjungha. It is a hamlet in the lap of nature. Short day treks and remote treks such as Jhandi viewpoint and Tosha Lake trek can also be done from Singhik. The Lepcha village, Dzongu and Tingchim village can also be visited from Singhik.
Singhik is 144 km from NJP Station. It took around 5 hrs to reach Singhik from NJP station. We stayed in Singhik Heritage bungalow.The bungalow had variety of flowers in their garden. The spectacular golden view of Mt. Kanchenjungha & Siniolchu was clearly visible from the balcony of the bungalow It’s a very good place to stay for one night. Their home cooked food was fabulous.
Day 2- In the next morning, we started our journey to Lachen, which was our next halt. It took around 4 hrs to reach Lachen from Singhik. While en route Lachen, we visited Naga falls.
On the way, we met with meandering Teesta river. The spectacular view of Teesta River, compelled us to stop the car and forced us to enjoy the calmness of nature.
We reached Lachen in afternoon. In Lachen, we stayed in Lachen Recidency. It’s a beautiful home stay with a small monastery in its periphery. The home stay is located at the top of the hill and was beautifully decorated. The whiffs from kitchen were irresistible. So, without wasting our time, we completed our lunch. After having Lunch, we visited Lachen monastery. The monastery was within walking distance from our home stay.
The temperature at night was nearly -1degree. It was too cold. We slept early that night. This is the best place to have exceptional winter experience.
Day 3– Next day, we wake up very early in the morning and started our journey around 5 am. This was the day we were waiting for.
As we headed towards our destination, our attention was fully engulfed by greenery. The cool breeze enveloped us in its embrace. It reminded me a famous quote of Kabi guru Rabindranath Tagore ” Trees are the earth’s endless effort to speak to the listening heaven. ”
After few hours of travelling, we reached the last check post and took a break. Snow clapped Mountain, clear blue sky makes the place very charming and beautiful.
After half an hour break, our journey began. Both, the road conditions and the scenic beauty changed drastically. The greenery vanished and turned into mountain desert. The environment was highly conducive. The “road to the heaven ” starts from here.
We headed towards our dream destination and finally reached the Lake. The view was simply stunning and breathtaking. The turquoise green water, snow capped mountain, clear blue sky, fresh air, made the whole atmosphere so serene. The time seemed to stand still. The place is totally isolated from digital world.
This is the perfect place for the photography enthusiasts, to capture the stunning scenic beauty of the awe inspiring lake. Its beauty is truly appreciable.
From the silence of the place,we found true bliss. Its beauty is difficult to describe in words. This place is truly “heaven on earth“.
We spend there for 1-1.5hour. While returning from the Lake, we visited “KALAPATHAR”. The condition of the road is very pathetic but it’s worth visiting. It is a less explored quaint place and a treasure waiting to be uncovered. It’s a gem of North Sikkim.
The whole place was covered with snow except few parts of black rock. The whole area was like monochrome picture. The magnificent beauty of Kalapathar was awesome. It is a perfect place to enjoy snow. Kids will definitely love the place as they will get the opportunity to play with snow.
The spectacular view of mountains near Kalapathar
We returned to Lachen at afternoon, had our lunch there. I tasted Yak soup for the first time. Truly it was delicious . After lunch we started for our next destination ” RINGHIM .”
A beautiful, serene, less explored hill station from where you will you get fantastic view of Kanchanjangha. . It is also under Mangan division. It is situated in amid of lush green hills. We were amazed by its unparalleled majestic beauty. By looking upon the verdant green hills, our eyes as well as mind & soul got refreshed.
We stayed at Sangarelee home stay which has a Helipad on the backside. The owner of the home stay is a very humble person. We reached there at evening. We spent the most enjoyable evening of the entire tour.. There was a campfire along with chicken tandoori. The evening ended with a mouth watering dinner and lots of unforgettable memories to cherish.
” Preparation of Chicken Tandoori…”
Day 4– In the morning, we visited Ringhim monastery. The monastery has splendid architectural views. We sat there for half an hour. The monks were busy with their daily chores. One of the monks came to us and offered hot tea and snacks. After having tea and snacks, we returned to our home stay.
The home stay was well planned .The interior of the rooms were well decorated. Owner of home stay told us that sleeping Buddha can be seen clearly from helipad. But the clouds were against us . Buddha was not visible from the helipad that day and it was disappointing.
After breakfast, we spent time with owner and his family and bid goodbyes to them. At 10 o’clock we started our journey to reach NJP station. At night we boarded train from Njp to Kolkata. That’s how our journey ended.
Gurudongmar Lake will always be my dream destination. It is truly a serene place. The place is totally disconnected from digital life. It is the best opportunity to spend time with nature and to realize nothing is so pure and beautiful than our Mother nature .
” To replenish and nurture my senses, I will come back again & again in the lap of Mother Nature…”
SOME INFORMATION ABOUT “GURUDONGMAR LAKE..” :-
i) Gurudongmar Lake is one of the highest lakes in the world and in India, it is second high altitude lake (17800 ft.) . The first high altitude lake of India is TSO LHAMO Lake (18000 ft.) the third one is The TSONGMO Lake or Changu Lake at an elevation 12313 ft.
It is an amazing fact that all the 3 high altitude lakes are situated in North Sikkim. So, north Sikkim is truly a paradise for traveler.
ii) The lake is named after Guru Padmasambhava—also known as Guru Rinpoche
iii) It is considered as scared lake by Hindus, Sikh and Buddhist. The water remains milky throughout the year except a portion of the lake where water never freezes. It is a myth that this portion of lake is blessed by Guru ji so that the locals get drinking water throughout the year .
PERMIT NEEDED :-
Permit is needed to visit the Lake. As Gurudongmar lake is in international border areas, hence, domestic tourist as well as locals need permit to visit the Lake. Permit is issued by Tourism and Civil Aviation Department. Travel agent can also arrange for the permit.
HOW TO REACH:-
The lake is located in North Sikkim of India. To visit the Lake, you have to reach Lachen first. The nearest railway stations are NJP station and Siliguri Station and the nearest airport is Bagdogra airport. After arriving at NJP station or airport, you have to travel a long distance by road. Cabs are easily available. It takes around 7-8 hrs from airport, NJP station to reach Lachen. So it is advisable to take one night halt before reaching Lachen. Maximum tourist choose Gangtok as their first halt. The road conditions from Gangtok to Gurudongmar Lake is not good due to frequent landslides.
TOUR ITINERARY OPTIONS:-
For four day tour, there are two options :-
i) If you love off beat destination, then can follow our tour itinerary.
Day 1– From NJP To Singhik. Night stay at Singhik.
Day 2– From Singhik to Lachen. Night tstay at Lachen.
Day 3– From Lachen to Gurudongmar Lake-Gurudonmar Lake to Kalapathar and then To Ringhim. Nightstay at Ringhim
Day 4– From Ringhim to NJP station
Day 1– From NJP To Gangtok. Night stay at Gangtok.
Day 2– From Gangtok to Lachen. Nigh tstay at Lachen.
Day 3– From Lachen to Gurudongmar Lake–Gurudonmar Lake to Kalapathar and then To Gangtok. Nightstay at Gangtok
Day 4- From Gangtok to NJP station
For a 05 day itinerary,
Day 1– From NJP To Gangtok. Night stay at Gangtok.
Day 2– From Gangtok to Lachung. Nigh tstay at Lachung.
Day 3– From Lachung visit Zero Point and come back to Lachen. Night stay at Lachen.
Day 4– From Lachen to Gurudongmar Lake-Gurudonmar Lake to Kalapathar and then To Gangtok. Nightstay at Gangtok
Day 5– From Gangtok to NJP station
I always prefer to arrange tour by myself. As visiting this place need permit, so we decided to go with travel agent. After studying travel blogs, reviews from facebook travel group, I came to know that Mr. Pranay Pradhan is the best travel agent for this kind of tour. So, we decided to go with him. I contacted him through his Facebook account. Our whole tour was organised by him. He is one of the renowned and best Tour organizer. Mr. Pranay Pradhan is a very humble, genuine and a good person. We were a group of 04 people and instead of staying in Gangtok, we stayed in Singhik and in Ringhim. So, our per head cost got increased. For one person, the cost was Rs 8500 including fooding, lodging and car. The driver was very well behaved. All the home stay where we stayed was excellent in terms of service, location, food & hospitality.
MY TRAVEL TIPS:–
According to my experience, sharing some travel tips which will make your journey more beautiful and comfortable.
i) Thermocot is a must wear to visit the Lake. So, carry thermocot, gloves and other necessary winter wear.
ii) If you have high altitude sickness, then must have COCO 60 medicine and camphor.
iii) Have your permit done before reaching the Lake. Permit can be arranged by the travel agent..
iv) Take your breakfast before reaching the Lake.
v) There is almost no shop after the check post. So, carry dry fruits, biscuits, cadbury, cakes along with you.
vi) Keep photocopies of Adhar and voter card.
vii) While visiting Gurudongmar Lake, start your journey as early as possible in the morning and reach the Lake at early morning. Because it is extremely windy there and wind speed keeps increasing as the day passes by.
viii) Try to visit Kalapathar while returning from Gurudongmar Lake. Driver will charge Rs 2000-2500 extra for this.
ix) The selection of proper timing to visit the place is very important. Don’t plan your trip on extreme winter i.e. on December, January, February. Most of the roads get blocked due to snow fall. You will not be able to reach the lake. To enjoy the enchanting beauty of the lake, I will advise to visit the lake in October or in November.
So, what are you waiting for? Start your planning to visit this picturesque Lake. You will defiantly get delighted by its flawless alluring beauty.