Tsomgo Lake, East Sikkim, 12313 ft
Tsomgo Lake, also known as Tsongmo Lake or Changu Lake, is a glacial lake in the East Sikkim district of the Indian state of Sikkim, some 40 kilometres (25 mi) from the capital Gangtok. Located at an elevation of 3,753 m (12,313 ft), the lake remains frozen during the winter season. The lake surface reflects different colours with change of seasons and is held in great reverence by the local Sikkimese people. Buddhist monks prognosticated after studying the changing colours of the lake.
After the winter season ends in middle of May, the periphery of lake has scenic blooms of flower species of rhododendrons (the state tree of Sikkim), primulas, blue and yellow poppies, irises and so forth. Also seen in the precincts of the lake are several species of birds including Brahminy ducks. Wildlife seen includes the red panda.
Tourist attractions at the lake site include joy rides on decorated yaks and mules where kiosks offer variety of food and drinks. There is also a small Shiva temple on the bank of the lake. As the lake is located in a restricted area it is essential for all Indians visiting the area to obtain permits. In case of foreign nationals special permit is essential.
This is one of the few and awesome high altitude lakes in India. The lake becomes doubly attractive with the reflections of the surrounding hills on the water. From Gangtok which is at 5410 ft, the altitude rises to about 10,000 ft in just 15kms. You can imagine how steep the gradient would be on this stretch of the road.
Nestled in the snow-capped mountains Himalayas of Sikkim, at a precipitous height of 12,313 feet, the Tsomgo (Changu) Lake is a popular tourist spot owing to its gorgeous setting and its close proximity to the Indo-Chinese border. Located at a distance of about 40 kms from the capital city of Gangtok, on the way to the Nathula Pass, the lake can be reached via Jawaharlal Nehru road by hiring a government-approved taxi service that can also help you obtain the relevant permits required to visit this area.
Tsomgo Lake is a glacial lake that derives its water from the melting snows of the mountains around it. This glacial lake is famous for its colour changing waters. Monsoons see a bright aquamarine lake whereas, in the winters, it freezes into a translucent cover of ice. As the summer approaches in mid-May, the periphery of this lake is dotted with a thousand blossoming flowers that lend the waters a riot of vibrant colours.
In the Bhutia language, ‘Tso’ means lake and ‘Mgo’ mean head and essentially means ‘source of the water’, holding immense religious and cultural significance to the Bhutia people. Considered as a sacred lake by the Sikkimese, Changu Lake is associated with many myths and legends. They say the Buddhist monks used to analyse the colour of the lake to forecast the future!
Strategically located amidst the mountainous valley in Eastern district of Sikkim, the glacial Tsomgo Lake has become a must visit tourist destination of Sikkim. To witness the mist slowing lifting from the lake while the sun ray glaze Tsomgo Lake with an orange hue making it glitter like covered with precious jewel is an astounding phenomena which has ensnared the heart of travelers visiting Lake Tsomgo. Be it in winter when the lake is completely frozen or summer when the lake is gleaming under the sun, the mesmerizing charisma of Lake Tsomgo has never ceased to amaze the viewers.
The beauty of Lake Tsomgo or Changu Lake can be adorned throughout the year. During winter from January to mid May Changu Lake is completely covered in snow and tourist can enjoy trekking as well as Yak ride on snow along the coasts of the lake. From October to December, the lake is partly covered in sheet ice and migratory birds can be seen waddling in the lake’s water and to witness the vibrant color riot of rhododendron and primulas around Lake Tsomgo April to May is the best time to visit Changu Lake. It is advised be careful while traveling in the hilly region during monsoon season as the roads become more prone to landslide after a heavy rainfall causing a road block.
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