A paved road to the glacial Gurudongmar Lake
Gurudongmar Lake is a high mountain glacial lake at an elevation of 5.154m (16,909ft) above the sea level, located in North Sikkim, India, near the Chinese border. It’s one of the highest roads of the country.
The road to the lake was recently asphalted. Expect extreme temperatures. Due to the high elevations and exposure, the road is subject to strong winds and rapid weather changes. Be prepared for the cold and wind! High winds blow here all year long. This beautiful glacial lake is also known as Chho Lhamo, Cholamu Lake or Cholamoo Lake. The lake completely freezes in winter. It’s encircled all around by snow-covered mountains. The lake is named after Guru Padmasambhava—also known as Guru Rinpoche—founder of Tibetan Buddhism, who visited in the 8th century. It’s considered sacred by Buddhists, Hindus, and Sikhs.
It’s one of the highest lakes in the world. Do not take this drive if you have respiratory problems or any type of heart condition. Babies under 4 months of age should not make the ascent, either. Notorius lack of oxygen that tests the organisms and a high degree of steepness. Most people feel altitude sickness at around 2,500-2,800 meters. Extremely low oxygen for engine combustion. A major hazard of altitude is the sickness that can indiscriminately affect anyone regardless of age or fitness. The summit has about 40% less oxygen than at sea level, thus breathing is more difficult. Your pulse rate will increase and movement will be more laborious at the summit. While Indian tourists are allowed to visit the lake, foreigners need to get a special permit from the Ministry of Home Affairs in Delhi.
The high elevation with its risk of altitude sickness, weather concerns, steep road grade and overall inaccessibility make the travel dangerous and difficult. The ride is rather remote, so you need to be prepared. You may not find food in proximity here so be well stocked.In case of a breakdown, there is very little in the way of passing traffic or inhabitants around, and no cell phone service in parts. It requires a special Army and Sikkim police/administration permit to visit the area. Located to the north of the Kangchengyao range, the splendid and scenic beauty of the place is breathtaking.
Pic: GAUTAM SARKAR