Sikkim is an embodiment of beauty dotted with the most famous tourist destinations of India. The state is as fascinating as a wonderland straight out of a fairytale. Embedded with verdant splendor, striking landscape, high-altitude lakes, and impeccable mountains, this place never fails to mesmerize its tourists. Sikkim is a treasury of the nature’s own gems waiting to be discovered by the human eye.
Tsomgo Lake - A Glacial Delight
The pristine state is purely blessed with many pilgrim centers housing many divine places that have left many travelers mollified, and of them being the Tsomgo Lake. It is a glacial lake and is one of the best tourist places in Sikkim that offers a glut of awe-inspiring views to amaze the spectators and unbeatable activities to indulge in. Tsomgo Lake, also known as Changu Lake is a popular high-altitude lake in East Sikkim that has never failed to ensnare the heart of the travelers. Tsomgo Lake is perched at a height of 12,400 ft, precisely 40 km away from the state-capital, Gangtok, and on the steep route known as Jawaharlal Nehru Road, leading all the way to Nathu-la Pass. It takes one hour 40 minutes by road to reach Tsomgo Lake from Gangtok town.
The name, “Tsomgo” has been derived from local Bhutia language which means ‘source of water’. The surreal lake surface reflects magnificent colors cornering the changes of season and unveils breathtaking picturesque of the rugged Himalayas. Due to its elevating height, the oval-shaped lake remains frozen solid along the edges covered in crystalline snow throughout the winter. Spring brings a vivid hue to the lake and its periphery has abundant of greenery and fresh blooms of flower species. During spring, the lake becomes an ideal housing ambience for migratory birds and Brahmini ducks making the lake one of the famous places of Sikkim for the avid bird lovers.
The glacial water body is replenished by the melting of the snow of its surrounding Himalayas. The lake is a paradise for the snow lovers. In winters, Tsomgo Lake is painted white in crystalline snow- indeed an unparalleled spectacle to relish in times to come. Travelers can hire snow boots to indulge in exciting activities like mule and yak safari offered at the lake. Riding on the hairy beast by the ethereal lake is an unbeatable experience in itself.
Tsomgo Lake is a one-stop destination for witnessing some of the rarest wildlife creatures like red panda and migratory birds while the lake glistens with orange hue of the sun during the summers. The lake offers a phenomenal sight that completely leaves the travelers spell bound. If you look for a resting place, just about 200 meters away, connected by a small bridge will take you to a small and cozy cafeteria cum viewpoint that sell hot drinks and snacks. You can stop by this surreal lake to sink in the serenity and charisma of natural beauty.
Much unknown to many, the lake is allied with numerous myths and legends. The Sikkimese considers Tsomgo as one of the holy lakes in Sikkim. It is believed that in the prehistoric times, Buddhist monks would study the changing hues of the lake to determine the future. The lake holds an unusual significance for the faith healers or the Jhakris of Sikkim who assemble around the lake to convey their offerings on the religious occasion of Guru Purnima every year to obtain healing benefits from the placid water. The lakeside also has a Shiva Temple that is considered sacred by the natives.
Tsomgo Lake is near to Nathu-la Pass, which adjoins the Indo-Chinese border. It is located in a restricted area and is thus not accessible to nations and foreign travelers NRIs or even OCIs without a valid Protected Area Permit (PAP) obtained from registered travel agencies. The permit is required to be done through travel agents that are authorized by the Sikkim government. Photo ID and Passport are required for applying for the permit. Tourists can apply for the permit at least one day before the planned date of journey. Tsomgo lake permit charges permit charges are INR 200 per person but may vary (with an additional cost of INR 20).
Tsomgo is the most attractive and one of the popular places to visit in Sikkim, and it’s a blessed sight to stop over on the way to Nathu-la Pass. Tourists can admire the charm of Tsomgo Lake throughout the year. Tsomgo Lake offers a pleasant temperature all days of the year. Tsongmo Lake in April looks vibrantly beautiful painted with the hues of spring blooms and blue skies. Most people like to visit the lake in May but a drastic flip of weather conditions are likely to take place with an increasing possibility of rainfall. However, here is everything that you need to know about the most favorable time to allure yourself in the magnetism of Tsomgo!
Between December and February, Tsomgo experiences the coolest months of the year with temperate dropping below minus 5-minus 15 degrees Celsius at night and 7-5 degrees Celsius during the day. If you wish to witness breathtaking Tsomgo Lake snowfall and dig your feet in the thick layers of white crystalline landscape, you can head on for Tsomgo and Nathu-la during these months.
The lake is completely covered in snow making it suitable for trekking and yak ride along the coast of the lake. From October to December, the lake is partly layered with a sheet of ice and migratory birds can be seen waddling in the lake.
While months between December and February are the coolest months, Tsomgo experiences moderately cool weather between the months of March and June. Temperature ranges between minus 5 to 3 degrees Celsius at night to 10 to 22 degrees Celsius during the day. This is the best time to visit if you wish to avoid the bitterness of cold and enjoy clear skies reflecting the resplendent and balmy rays of the sun.
During this time, you can as well witness the vibrant array of spring blossoms like the primulas and mollifying rhododendrons along the periphery of the lake.
These few months are not considered as favorable for travelling to high altitude locations like Tsomgo due to the possibilities of heavy rainfall. It is advisable that tourists don’t travel during the monsoon season as the roads are prone to landslides and subsequent road blockages.
Tsomgo Lake is 40 km from Gangtok which is well-connected by road from other cities.
Tourists who wish to travel by air from other cities, Pakyong is the only airport in Sikkim (30 km from Gangtok) which is connected directly to the cities of Kolkata and Guwahati. Besides that, Bagdogra Airport in Siliguri (West Bengal) is directly connected with Bangkok and other major metropolitan cities of the country.
Sikkim does not have its own railway connectivity. However, New Jalpaiguri (NJP) is the nearest station located in Siliguri, West Bengal and is connected with the major cities of India. Gangtok is 120 km away from NJP.
Sikkim is connected via National Highway 31 A with Siliguri/Bagdogra/NJP. Sikkim National Transport operates buses on daily basis from Siliguri. Private vehicles and taxis on hire are available from Tenzing Norgay Bus Terminus.
From Gangtok, you should leave for Tsomgo Lake by 7.30 in the morning so that you can reach the lake by 10 a.m. and have solid 2 hours to enjoy the paradisiacal beauty before the weather starts getting bad by the early evening.
a) New Baba Mandir
b) Old Baba Mandir
c) Tseten Tashi Cave
d) BanJhakri Falls
e) Kyongsola Alpine Sanctuary
f) Yaks and mules
g) Himalayan blossoms including rhododendrons, primulas, irises, blue and yellow poppies
h) Several migratory birds including Brahminy ducks and rare wildlife species like red panda
1. How to reach Tsomgo Lake from Gangtok?
Tsomgo Lake is at a distance of 40 km from Gangtok and is accessible via road drive from Gangtok. You can hire vehicles like Innova, Bolero or Scorpio available on rent. You can also hire a taxi from Gangtok to reach Tsomgo. Taxi charges vary between INR 600-700 per person.
2. How far is Tsomgo Lake from Gangtok?
Tsomgo Lake is at a distance of 40 km from Gangtok. It takes about 1 hour and 40 minutes from Gangtok to Tsomgo Lake.
3. Is Tsomgo Lake open in April?
Tourists can visit Tsomgo in April as it is open for visits all year long. However, in times of unforeseen weather conditions and road blockages, situational permits may be withheld.
4. Is Tsomgo Lake open now?
Tsomgo Lake is open for the visitors throughout the year. Since the location comes under protected areas in Sikkim, it requires Protected Area Permit (PAP) to travel to Nathu-la and Tsomgo.