A typical tour starts at Gangtok from where Lachen is about 120 kms (6 hours). After overnight stay at Lachen next morning you may visit Gurudongmar.
The first phase of the journey starts at Lachen at 8800 feet and in next 35 kms reaches Thangu at 13000 feet. As you gain altitude you will find the green forests of lower altitude gives way to smaller trees and bushes. Beyond Thangu is the second phase of your travel. The road towards the lake from Thangu passes through the high alpine pastures carpeted with occassional rhododendron bushes. One can get a prized view of rare Sikkim Rhubarb peeping through the bushes in inaccessible terrain or of a herd of mountain sheep grazing in the distant valley. In this area you will find little vegetation or people. Apart from Indian Army, there is no human habitation here. The gravel road through the valley gives you a unique view of a barren land. Just before you reach the lake the road takes a right turn and goes uphill to reach the lake.
The terrain leading to Gurudongmar is very hostile and yet very beautiful. The land resembles Tibetan plateau, vegetation is very limited and the road is through stony moraine like unpaved path. Due to proximity to the Chinese Boarder, landmines are not uncommon and presence of Indian Army is ubiquitous. Due to high altitude breathing problems may also arise. Tourists are suggested to spend less time at the high altitude and come down to Lachen soon.
At an attitude of 17000 ft, Gurudongmar is one of the highest lakes in the world. It lies in the North side of the Khangchengyao Range and is encircled all around by snow-covered mountains, the sacred lake freezes during the winters except at one spot, which the devout believe has been specially blessed. The Chinese Tibetan boarder is just a few kilometres away from the lake.
The blessed water of the lake is believed to posses the miraculous power of granting children to issueless couples. Interestingly, the myth of Gurudongmar is believed as reverentially by the Hindus as by the local Buddhists.
The name Gurudongmar is derived from the name of the Guru Padmasambhava who is thought to have visited Tibet through this area. The area is said to be blessed by Guru Padmasambhava. There is a temple of the Guru besides the lake. Devotee tourists as well as the Army personnel offer prayer at the temple.
Finally we reached our destination- heaven on earth, we had never seen such pristine landscape ever. The lake is extremely sacred for Buddhists & they say only few fortunate ones can make it here. As per the rituals, the monks usually take a round around the entire lake & perform sacred chants, with stones placed on the edge of the lake.
We walked down the stairs, to the reach the lake which to our astonishment had clear water in crescent shape at it’s front. Well walking down was easy with our enthusiasm on another level altogether, few steps to not even half of the quarter of the lake, we started gasping for breath with lack of oxygen & immediately made our way back.
As we kept getting out of breath while walking back, it took much more time to climb up again.
The lake is located at an extreme corner of India. The nearest tourist accommodation at Lachen is 68 km (3 hours) away. A typical tour starts at Gangtok from where Lachen is about 120 kms (6 hours). After overnight stay at Lachen next morning you may visit Gurudongmar. You should start early in the morning and be back to Lachen latest by lunch time. As the day progresses weather in the high altitude begins to worsens.
Indian visitors are allowed to enter the entry point till 10:30 AM . So Reach early to get the formality completed.
At this height where you only get road, rocks, mountains, and snow, this is a lake all surrounded by the mountains. One of the most beautiful views I've seen here. Few points to note:
1. At this altitude, many feel dizzy and weak so be careful. So this is not the place for children and elderly. (if you are into fitness and running it will help you to move around)
2. To reach to this place you need to leave early from Lachen as you have to return back from there by 12 pm.
3. The toilet facility is pathetic so use the one at the checkpoint where you stop for verification of permit.
This place is a gem of nature, the water is crystal clear and tastes too good. It is peaceful, it is tranquil, it has the most satisfying picturesque beauty.
A must visit place for all the travelers.