Gurudongmar Lake

Gurudongmar Lake – Sikkim | Weather Height Permit
Gurudongmar Lake is an important tourist attraction in Sikkim located in North district. At an altitude of 17,800 ft (5,400 mtr) Gurudongmar is one of the highest mountain lakes in India as well as in the world.  The lake is created by snow melted water from the glaciers. Gurudongmar Lake is  175 km from Gangtok & 67 km away from Lachen. On the way you can also visit Thangu & Chopta Valley. Temperature ranges from -20oC to 10oC & weather varies in different months of the year. The best time to visit Gurudongmar Lake is Autumn (November & December). January to March will be the best time see snow. April is the flowering season in North Sikkim. If you like to see various orchids & rhododendrons, April will be the best time to visit Gurudongmar Lake. 

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Gurudongmar Lake – North Sikkim

Thangu & Chopta Valley | Gurudongmar Lake Temperature | To reach | Permit 

Gurudongmar Lake- North Sikkim

Gurudongmar Lake- North Sikkim

The lake is spread in an area of 290 acres. The border of the lake is approx 5.5 km long which makes it the largest lake in Sikkim.  A small mountain stream links it to Tso Lahmu Lake. Both lakes together form the source of River Teesta. Due to the high altitude & cold weather the lake gets frozen in the winter from November to April. Some of the highest mountains of the world surrounds the lake. You can have breathtaking view of Mt. Kanchendzonga & Mt. Siniolchu from the lake.    

Gurudongma Lake has some religious significance. Both Buddhist, Hindu & Sikh consider it as a sacred. The name came from the Guru Padmasamvaba also known as Guru Rinpoche. He was the founder of Tibetan Buddhism. Guru Padmasamvaba visited the lake in 8th century on the way back from Tibet. The lake was the main source of drinking water for the locals. But it used to get frozen due extreme cold during winter. The local people requested a solution to the Guru. Guru touched a portion of the lake & that particular part never gets frozen even in the extreme cold weather. So the local people consider the lake as sacred & collect holly water. There is a temple of Guru Rinpoche just beside the lake. There are also a number of prayer flags surrounding the lake.   Read more…     


Important facts about Gurudongmar Lake

  • You cannot reach Gurudongmar Lake from Gangtok in a single day. You need to stay at Lachen for 1 nt.
  • Need to start from Lachen early in the morning at approx 4 am & will come back before lunch.
  • Height of the lake is 17,800 ft (5,400 mtr). There might be breathing problems.
  • Children below 5 years of age & person above 65 yrs cannot go due to extreme weather condition & lack of oxygen.
  • A portion of the lake does not freeze even in extreme cold (-20oC)
  • Buddhist consider it sacred as Guru Padmasamvaba visited the lake in 8th
  • Road condition is very bad as it runs on stony-moraine. So choice of vehicle is limited. Max, Scorpio & Xylo are available. Small car cannot move to North Sikkim. 
  • Nearest Habitat is Thangu with shops. 
  • Foreigners cannot go to Gurudongmar Lake as this is a bordering area. They can go up to Thangu accompanied by a local guide.
  • Best time to visit – October, November, April, May 


Thangu Valley

On the way from Lachen to Gurudongmar Lake there Thangu & Chopta Valley. Thangu is approx 35 km from Lachen & takes 2 hours to reach. Thangu is the last habitat before Gurudongmar, at an altitude of 13,000 ft. Usually tourists take a small halt at Thangu for acclimatization before moving forward to the Lake. The valley remains covered with snow from October end to March. During spring (March to May) it remains covered with colourful flowers specially blue popy, rhododendrons & various types of orchids. There are no of mountain streams flow through the valley. Thanghu Chu, Chopta Chu & Lassur Chu are some of them.  Thangu to Gurudongmar is 30km, approx 2 hours drive.

Chopta Vallley

Just 4 km away from Thangu Valley there is Chopta Valley. This also a flower valley & a paradise for nature lovers & bird watchers. Spring & Summer (March to May) is the booming season in Chopta Valley. The entire valley gets covered with various orchids, rhododendrons, primulas  & numerous other wild flowers. During (October to February) the valley gets covered with snow. You can even walk on the frozen rivers.


On the way to Gurudongmar Lake

On the way to Gurudongmar Lake

Gurudongmar Lake Tour Packages

Yumthang Gurudongmar Tour

3 nights 4 daysRs.10,750/-

Alpine North Sikkim Tour

7 nights 8 daysRs.20,800/-

Sikkim Tour Package

9 nights 10 daysRs.23,800/-


Gurudongmar Lake temperature weather | Best time to visit

Autumn (October to December)

October to December is the best time to visit Gurudongmar Lake. Just after the monsoon you will get a clear sky along with a moderate temperature. November is the month when the temperature starts falling & the lake starts freezing. Temperature in November ranges from -15oC to -2oC. You can view a partially frozen lake. As the temperature is bearable with clear weather November is considered the best time to visit the lake. December will be a colder. The minimum temperature may fall up to -10oC.       

Winter (mid December to February)

These are the coolest months. In January the temperature may fall as low as -25oC. During winter there will be heavy snowfall as the temperature ranges from -25oC to -8oC. This a perfect for those want to experience extreme cold & heavy snowfall. But Snowfall will increase the risk of road blocks. 

Spring (March to April)

This is the flowering season in Sikkim. North Sikkim is the place where you can see various types of orchids, rhododendrons & numerous other colourful flowers. On the way to Gurudongmar Lake you can find Thangu & Chopta Valley covered with flowers. Yumthang Valley near Lachung is also known as flower valley of Sikkim. So March to April will be the best time for those who are fond of colourful flowers.  Temperature may range from -20oC to 0oC. So you have a chance to get good volume of snowfall along with the colourful flowers.

Summer (May to Jun)

Summer is not at all hot in Gurudongmar Lake. Temperature ranges from -6oC to 5oC. May is the time for various flowers. But this is the season when it’s start raining in the region.

Monsoon (July to mid September)

Sikkim gets maximum rainfall from July to mid September. Temperature ranges from 0oC to 10oC. North Sikkim is a landslide prone area. Heavy rain increases the risk of landslide. So it’s better not to plan your Gurudongmar Lake trip during monsoon.    


How to reach Gurudongmar Lake from Gangtok

Tour to Gurudongmar Lake starts from Gangtok. Gangtok to Gurudongmar Lake is 175 km (9-10 hrs). You cannot reach the lake in a single day. The nearest accommodation available is in Lachen, 121 km (6 hrs) from Gangtok. You need to start early in the morning (at 4 or 5 am) from Lachen. Lachen to Gurudongmar Lake is 67km, approx 4 hours journey. In between tourist take a short break at Thangu (35km) for acclimatization. On the way back you can visit Chopta Valley (4km from Thangu & 32km from Gurudongmar).

Gangtok to Lachen – 121 km
Lachen to Thangu – 35 km
Thangu to Chopta Valley – 4 km
Thangu to Gurudongmar Lake – 31 km
Gangtok to Gurudongmar Lake – 174 km

Related article – How to reach Gangtok


Gurudongmar Lake Permit

Gurudongmar Lake comes under protected area of Sikkim. To visit North Sikkim including Gurudongmar Lake you need a Protected Area Permit (PAP). Permit can be obtained from Gangtok.

For Protected Area you need to produce photocopy of your ID proof (Voter ID/ Passport) & Passport size recent colour photographs (2 no).

Foreigners are not allowed to go to Gurudongmar Lake. They can go up to Thangu accompanied by a local guide. 

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