Gurudongmar Lake: Complete Guide To Sikkim’s Natural Gem!

 In Gurudongmar Lake, Sikkim

Discover breathtaking Sikkim packages that include the mesmerizing Gurudongmar Lake, one of the highest lakes in the world, located in Sikkim. Known for its stunning beauty and sacred atmosphere, Gurudongmar Lake in Sikkim attracts visitors year-round. If you’re planning a trip, it’s helpful to know about Gurudongmar Lake’s opening time to fully enjoy your visit. This lake is not just a place to see but a hub of activities, offering many things to do in Gurudongmar Lake. 

While exploring Sikkim, you’ll find plenty of other fascinating places to visit in Sikkim and a variety of things to do in Sikkim, ensuring your journey is unforgettable.

About Gurudongmar Lake

Gurudongmar Lake: A Natural Marvel


Gurudongmar Lake height is an impressive elevation of 17,000 feet, Gurudongmar Lake stands as one of the highest and most astonishing lakes in the world. Nestled in the northern reaches of the Khangchengyao Range in Sikkim, this high-altitude lake is surrounded by majestic snow-covered mountains and remains largely frozen in the winter months, except for a small blessed area that never freezes. The sacredness of Gurudongmar Lake in Sikkim is revered equally by Hindus and Buddhists, adding a deep cultural and spiritual layer to its natural beauty.

Historical and Spiritual Significance


The name Gurudongmar Lake is derived from Guru Padmasambhava, also known as Guru Rimpoche, who is believed to have visited the region and blessed it. A temple near the lake is a testament to this revered figure’s visit, offering a place for prayer for devotees and tourists alike. The sacred waters of Gurudongmar Lake are believed to have the miraculous power of granting children to childless couples. Legends also recount the visits of Sikh Guru Nanak Dev, who is said to have touched the lake with his walking stick, ensuring that part of the lake remains unfrozen throughout the year to provide water to the locals.

Accessibility and Best Times to Visit


Reaching Gurudongmar Lake involves a journey through the scenic Thangu Valley. The lake is accessible via a road from Lachen, with the route passing through rugged terrain rich in alpine pastures and rhododendron forests. Gurudongmar Lake opening time is crucial for visitors since it is accessible from November to mid-May when it is not completely frozen. Note that while Indian tourists can visit freely, foreigners must obtain a special permit due to the lake’s proximity to international borders.

Environmental and Cultural Preservation


Despite its remoteness, Gurudongmar Lake has faced environmental challenges, including pollution that has impacted its once crystal-clear waters. Efforts are underway to preserve its purity and the surrounding ecosystem to ensure it remains a pristine natural sanctuary. This preservation is crucial for maintaining the spiritual and ecological balance of this significant site.

Visiting Gurudongmar Lake in Sikkim is more than just a travel experience; it’s a pilgrimage to a place where nature and spirituality intertwine seamlessly. Planning your visit around the Gurudongmar Lake opening time and respecting its sacred and natural significance can make your trip a truly transformative experience.

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Facts About Gurudongmar Lake

  • Sacred Waters That Never Freeze: Even at temperatures as low as -20 degrees Celsius, a specific part of Gurudongmar Lake remains unfrozen due to the blessings of Guru Padmasambhava, making it a sacred site for Hindus, Buddhists, and Sikhs.
  • Fertility-Enhancing Waters: Local belief holds that the waters of Gurudongmar Lake possess the magical ability to resolve fertility issues, a claim that remains unproven scientifically. The nearby temple is a place for tourists to offer prayers and observe colourful prayer flags.
  • Source of the Teesta River: Gurudongmar Lake is fed by glaciers and acts as a source stream for the Tso Lhamo Lake, which subsequently forms the Teesta River. The majority of the lake is hidden by the surrounding hilly topography.
  • Challenging Altitude: Situated at 17,800 feet, Gurudongmar Lake poses significant challenges due to its extreme height, including breathing difficulties for many visitors, emphasising the need for acclimatisation.
  • Wind Conditions: The area around Gurudongmar Lake experiences winds strong enough to lift stones, particularly in the afternoon, highlighting the harsh conditions and the need for appropriate winter clothing.
  • Vibrant Flower Season: The best time for lovers of flora to undertake the Gurudongmar Lake Trek is during April and May when the region is a riot of colours with blooming rhododendrons and other wildflowers, despite potential snowstorms.
  • Accessibility Issues in Winter: During the peak winter months, particularly from late December to February, Gurudongmar Lake often becomes inaccessible due to heavy snowfall and road blockages.
  • Optimal Visiting Times: The months of October, November, and late April to early May are considered the best times to visit Gurudongmar Lake. November offers a partially frozen lake with clear skies and bearable temperatures.
  • Permit Requirements: Travelling to Gurudongmar Lake requires several permits due to its location near sensitive border areas, and the journey typically includes multiple stops to help tourists acclimatise to the high altitude.
  • Enchanting Chopta Valley: Known as the ‘Mini Switzerland’ of India, Chopta Valley near Gurudongmar Lake offers stunning views and is best visited in October-November and April-May for those wanting to engage in adventure sports or enjoy the natural beauty of snow-covered landscapes or vibrant floral displays.

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Things To Do At Gurudongmar Lake

1. Sightseeing


Immerse yourself in the breathtaking scenery around Gurudongmar Lake. Surrounded by snow-capped mountains, the lake provides stunning vistas that are perfect for photography enthusiasts and nature lovers alike. Don’t forget to capture these picturesque moments!

One of the most unique features of Gurudongmar Lake in Sikkim is the spot that remains unfrozen all year round, believed to be blessed by Guru Padmasambhava. This sacred spot is a key highlight for many visitors, offering a blend of spiritual significance and natural beauty. Observing this phenomenon provides a moment of reflection and peace.

Additionally, Gurudongmar Lake is surrounded by a rich ecosystem that includes high-altitude wildlife such as yaks and blue sheep. Spotting these animals in their natural habitat adds an exciting layer to your visit, making it educational and enjoyable.

2. Trekking at Gurudongmar Lake


Exploring Gurudongmar Lake trek is a captivating activity for visitors. The treks around this high-altitude lake in Sikkim offer breathtaking views of snow-capped mountains and expansive skies. Suitable for both novices and seasoned trekkers, these trails provide a wonderful opportunity to experience the natural beauty of the area; this is one of the best adventure activities to do.

As you walk, the pristine, shimmering waters of Gurudongmar Lake offer a serene backdrop, ideal for relaxation and photography. Engaging in this trek not only invigorates physically but also rejuvenates the spirit, making it a must-do activity at Gurudongmar Lake.

3. Explore Lachung Near Gurudongmar Lake


Lachung is a picturesque village close to Gurudongmar Lake, and visiting this place is one of the top things to do at Gurudongmar Lake. In Lachung, you can experience the vibrant local culture and taste traditional Sikkimese cuisine, making your visit both delicious and educational. The village is also a starting point for many treks to Gurudongmar Lake, combining adventure with scenic beauty.

Exploring the lush landscapes around Lachung provides a peaceful retreat and is considered another enjoyable thing to do at Gurudongmar Lake. Photograph the unique architecture of Lachung’s homes and monasteries, capturing the essence of this enchanting region. Don’t miss this enriching experience when planning your things to do at Gurudongmar Lake.

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4. Discover Lachen Before Gurudongmar Lake


Visiting Lachen is a must when planning things to do at Gurudongmar Lake. This small town is the gateway to Gurudongmar Lake in Sikkim and offers a glimpse into the serene lifestyle of the northern Sikkim region. Stroll through Lachen’s quaint streets, visit the local monastery, and interact with friendly locals to learn about their traditions and crafts. It’s a perfect prelude to your journey to the lake.

Moreover, trying the local cuisine in Lachen is one of the enjoyable things to do at Gurudongmar Lake. Each meal provides a taste of Sikkim’s culture, enriching your travel experience. Include Lachen in your list of things to do at Gurudongmar Lake for a complete Himalayan adventure.

5. Experience Thangu Valley on Your Way to Gurudongmar Lake


Thangu Valley is a vibrant stop while exploring Gurudongmar Lake in Sikkim. As one of the recommended things to do at Gurudongmar Lake, visiting Thangu Valley offers a chance to see high-altitude meadows filled with wildflowers during spring and summer.

The valley serves as an adaptation point for travellers headed to the lake, making it a practical and picturesque stop. Engaging with the local shepherds and experiencing their way of life is another enriching activity and an essential thing to do at Gurudongmar Lake. The peaceful surroundings and the simple lifestyle of Thangu can make your visit to Gurudongmar Lake even more memorable. Include Thangu Valley in your list of things to do at Gurudongmar Lake for a full cultural immersion.

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Temperature & Weather Conditions


Autumn (October to December)

Autumn is the ideal season to visit Gurudongmar Lake, offering clear skies and moderate temperatures. November sees the beginning of the lake freezing over, with Gurudongmar Lake temperatures ranging from -15°C to -2°C, making it a spectacular sight of a partially frozen lake. The clear weather combined with the bearable cold makes November the best month for a visit. However, in December, temperatures drop further, sometimes reaching as low as -10°C.

Winter (Mid-December to February)

Winter brings the coldest months, with Gurudongmar Lake temperatures plummeting to -25°C in January. This season is marked by heavy snowfall, transforming the landscape into a winter wonderland. Those seeking to experience extreme cold and snowy conditions will find this period appealing, although it comes with increased chances of road blocks due to snow.

Spring (March to April)

Spring in Sikkim is a colourful affair with valleys like Thangu and Chopta near Gurudongmar Lake bursting into blooms of orchids and rhododendrons. The Gurudongmar Lake temperature might still drop to -20°C but can rise up to 0°C, allowing visitors to enjoy the snow alongside the vibrant flowers. This season is especially favourable for flower enthusiasts.

Summer (May to June)

During summer, Gurudongmar Lake experiences mild temperatures that range from -6°C to 5°C. Despite being summer, the region remains cool, and the landscape is dotted with various flowering species. However, rainfall begins during this season, which could dampen travel plans.

Monsoon (July to Mid-September)

Monsoon season sees the highest rainfall, making it a less favourable time to visit. Gurudongmar Lake temperatures range from 0°C to 10°C during these months. The risk of landslides due to heavy rain makes travel risky and is generally advised against.

Additional Tips

  • Gurudongmar Lake oxygen levels are significantly lower due to the high altitude, which can affect visitors not accustomed to such conditions. It’s important to acclimatise and stay hydrated.
  • Gurudongmar Lake opening times are subject to change based on weather conditions, so checking with local authorities or tour guides before planning your visit is crucial.

Choosing the right season for visiting Gurudongmar Lake depends on what you want to experience, whether it’s the ethereal beauty of a frozen lake, the thrill of snowy landscapes, or the delight of flowering valleys.

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Obtaining a Protected Area Permit (PAP) for Gurudongmar Lake

  • Where to Obtain the Permit: The permit can be secured in Gangtok, the capital city of Sikkim. It’s advisable to arrange this permit through a registered travel agency or your hotel in Gangtok, which can facilitate the process.
  • Required Documents:

1. Photocopy of ID Proof: Visitors must provide a photocopy of a valid ID proof, such as a Voter ID or Passport.

2. Passport-Size Photographs: Two recent colour photographs in passport size are required to complete the permit application.

  • Restrictions for Foreign Nationals: Foreign visitors are not allowed to visit Gurudongmar Lake due to its proximity to the international border. However, they are permitted to travel as far as Thangu, which also offers stunning landscapes and cultural insights. Foreign tourists must be accompanied by a local guide to visit Thangu.

Why the Permit is Necessary: Gurudongmar Lake is part of a strategically sensitive region near the border areas of India. The permit helps regulate and monitor visitors to ensure safety and security in these areas.

Tips for a Smooth Permit Process

  • Plan Ahead: Since the permit process may take some time, it’s best to plan ahead and apply for the permit well before your intended travel date.
  • Use Local Services: Engaging local tour operators or your accommodation provider in Gangtok can streamline the permit process, as they are familiar with the requirements and procedures.

Obtaining a permit is an essential step in planning your visit to Gurudongmar Lake, ensuring you have a hassle-free experience exploring this stunning high-altitude lake in Sikkim.

  • Consult a Doctor: Due to the high altitude, breathing problems are common. It’s advisable to consult a doctor before your trip and carry any necessary medications.
  • Dress Appropriately: The climate at Gurudongmar Lake is extremely cold, especially due to the high altitude. Bring enough woollens and make sure your ears and mouth are well covered to protect against the cold.
  • Manage Oxygen Levels: At 15,000 feet, you’ll notice a significant difference in the Gurudongmar oxygen level. Avoid strenuous activities such as jumping around. Walk slowly and if you feel any discomfort, consult a paramedic immediately.
  • Prepare for Motion Sickness: The roads to Gurudongmar Lake are rough, and motion sickness is common. Carry appropriate medication to manage this.
  • Avoid Strenuous Exercise: At 15,000 feet, the thin air can make physical exertion more challenging and potentially dangerous. Walk slowly and steadily to prevent altitude sickness.
  • Age Restrictions for Children: Children below 5 years of age are not allowed by the army due to the extreme conditions and safety concerns.
  • Ensure All Permits Are in Order: Do not overlook the importance of obtaining the necessary permits for visiting Gurudongmar Lake. Ensure your paperwork is in order before you depart. Contact your travel agents or hotel front desk for assistance.
  • Respect the Environment: Gurudongmar Lake is considered a sacred site. Be a responsible visitor by not littering. Always carry back any trash and keep the surroundings clean to preserve the sanctity and natural beauty of the area.

How To Reach


By Air:

  • Nearest Airport: The closest airport to Gurudongmar Lake is Bagdogra Airport in Siliguri.
  • Distance to Lachen: From Bagdogra Airport, Lachen is approximately 200 km away.
  • Transportation: Upon arriving at Bagdogra Airport, you can hire a taxi to Lachen. The journey typically takes around 6 to 7 hours, depending on road conditions and traffic.

By Road:

  • Bus Services: Buses to Lachen are available from various cities within Sikkim, including Gangtok, the state capital.
  • Further Travel to the Lake: Once in Lachen, visitors need to arrange for a jeep or taxi to Gurudongmar Lake. It is important to note that this leg of the journey can only be undertaken with a valid Protected Area Permit (PAP), which can be arranged in Gangtok or through travel agencies.

By Rail:

  • Nearest Railway Station: The nearest railway station is Darjeeling Railway Station.
  • Distance to Lachen: Lachen is about 171 km from Darjeeling Railway Station.
  • Transportation: From Darjeeling, you can hire a taxi or take a bus to Lachen. The drive is scenic and takes about 5-6 hours, traversing through some of the beautiful landscapes of the region.



In conclusion, visiting Gurudongmar Lake offers an unforgettable adventure into the heart of Sikkim’s stunning landscapes. Despite the challenges posed by the high altitude and the Gurudongmar Lake oxygen level, the journey to this sacred lake is rewarding, filled with breathtaking views and spiritual significance. Whether you’re trekking through the rugged terrains or soaking in the serene beauty of the lake, each moment at Gurudongmar is a cherished memory. 

So, pack your bags, prepare well, and set off for an experience that promises not just panoramic delights but also a peaceful retreat into nature’s embrace. Remember, the beauty of Gurudongmar Lake awaits to fill your heart with joy and your spirit with calmness.

Are there any precautions to be taken while visiting Gurudongmar Lake?

Yes, due to the high altitude and Gurudongmar Lake oxygen level, visitors should acclimatize themselves in Lachen before proceeding to the lake. It’s important to stay hydrated, avoid strenuous exercise, and carry medication for altitude sickness if susceptible. Also, ensure you have warm clothing regardless of the season, as temperatures can be extremely low.

What is the significance of Gurudongmar Lake?

Gurudongmar Lake is considered one of the highest lakes in the world and holds religious significance for Buddhists, Hindus, and Sikhs. It is believed that Guru Padmasambhava blessed the lake, granting it sacred status. The lake is also said to have healing properties and is a source of the Teesta River.

What is the best time to visit Gurudongmar Lake?

The best time to visit Gurudongmar Lake is from November to June. The weather during these months is more stable and clear, providing better conditions for travel and sightseeing. November offers the mesmerising view of a partially frozen lake, while April to June showcases vibrant floral blooms in the region.

How to reach Gurudongmar Lake from Gangtok?

To reach Gurudongmar Lake from Gangtok, you will first need to travel to Lachen, which is approximately 108 kilometres away and takes about 4-5 hours by road. From Lachen, you can hire a local taxi or jeep to Gurudongmar Lake, with the journey taking an additional 3-4 hours. Ensure you have the necessary Protected Area Permit (PAP), which is required for all visitors.

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