Day 7 – Gurudongmar Lake

You can read about the previous days of my travel here

Day 7 –

We woke up at sharp 3 AM. Our hosts brought us hot water to refresh ourselves, had black tea (breakfast is not recommended so early) and began our journey in pitch dark around 4 AM towards Gurudongmor Lake.

We had one planned stop at Thangu village for breakfast. By the time we reached Thangu, it was around 7 AM and the entire village was covered in snow. The first time I laid eyes on that village, with its wooden bridge covered in snow with ice cold water running below it, tiny wooden huts where people live the most humble life, simplicity of their lives, harmony with which they live as one community – these are some images which are etched in my memory forever.

The wooden bridge

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Cold water gushing

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The village of Thangu

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We went to have breakfast at our driver in-law’s house. It was the humble Maggi – either simple or masala flavored J and it was served piping hot. While having breakfast, we observed their home – a wooden pillar in the middle of the home which had coal burning 24*7 to provide warmth, wooden planks for people to sit or sleep around the side of the house, their worldly possessions arranged below and above those planks.

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A photo with our hosts

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One couldn’t lead a simpler life than these people. And then we saw this at their backyard 😀 😀

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After breakfast, we proceeded towards Gurudongmor. The next two hours of our journey was filled with the most incredible views – Tibetan border on one side, wilderness on the other, graveled roads, cold and very windy air, yaks grazing in the distance and to our surprise a wooden home perched in the middle of nowhere taking care of those yaks, us inside our jeep wondering how people live on this remote land with no electricity, no medical facilities, no communication means or anything of that sort.

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The entire stretch from Thangu to Gurudongmor Lake was full of mountains big and small on either side of our path. Since the lake is at an altitude of 17000+ feet, our driver advised us not to stay at the lake for more than 15-20 minutes. We didn’t know about AMS back in 2010.

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Finally, we reached the lake around 9 AM. The Lake – what a sight it was!! No words or photographs can explain its beauty. Water had started to freeze towards the edges – we heard it would be completely frozen during the winter. The lake looked so pristine in a wonderful blue color reflecting the sunrays caught.

Gurudongmor Lake

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We didn’t want to leave from there yet – after all we had travelled 5 hours one-way to see this lake. There is a temple next to the lake, which can be visited.

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Now comes the part where AMS hit me lightly. I had to take nature’s call and the restroom was down a flight of stairs. I started walking down and climbed up just like I would do at home – jump 2 – 3 steps at a time. Only when I almost reached the top, I started to feel giddy, nauseous and realized I had exerted too much energy. Then came a horrible headache that made us leave the lake without spending much time, made us skip Chopta Valley, which was planned as our next spot. Only after we reached a lesser altitude, along with rest at the yak caretakers home and some black tea helped me recover. So, folks when you plan for Gurudongmor, please take proper precautions especially with kids who could start running.

We picked up our driver’s wife from Thangu and started proceeding towards Lachen. The road we travelled in pitch dark that morning was covered with the most beautiful snow we had ever even seen. Suddenly, it started snowing and snow flakes started falling down J J We were delighted like small kids, stopped our jeep and started playing around in spite of my camera running out of battery. Cold weather makes battery runs out faster than normal temperatures.

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We took in the entire landscape, stored it in our memories and reached Lachen. We had the most fulfilling lunch and started towards Lachung. It began to drizzle initially and then it started raining like cats and dogs. All we could do was sit inside the jeep and hope the weather would be better next day. And then our driver assured us that rain is good since we are visiting Yumthang Valley. Rain at Lachung means snow at Yumthang.

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We reached Apple Valley Inn, our accommodation at Lachung around 7 PM. We were greeted happily by the hotel caretaker and had a delicious south indian dinner and slept in a wonderful wooden hut. More of that on next day where we visit Yumthang Valley, its hot spring and Zero point.

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Day 6 – Towards North Sikkim

You can read posts about previous days of my Sikkim trip from these links

Day 6 –

This was the day we were leaving Gangtok to North Sikkim. Many of the places here need prior permission to visit. Since it was our first trip to The Himalayas, we weren’t very sure about all this. So, we had arranged it with a travels agent. (Yak and Yeti Travels). Our plan was to visit Gurudongmor Lake and Yumthang Valley.

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We met our wonderful driver for North Sikkim (Neema) and started our journey. Once we crossed the bridge that led to North Sikkim, the mountains started to look bigger, roads much worse, but the beauty was pretty breath taking.

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We passed Seven Sisters Falls, which is around 37 km from Mangan, is a good spot for taking a break from a long journey.

Seven sister falls

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Bridge next to it

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Chungthang is 65 km from the seven sisters falls. To reach Gurudongmor Lake, one has to spend the night at Lachen or Thangu. I would suggest staying in Lachen if you are not acclimatized before. Both are beautiful villages with the most humble and helping people you will ever see in this part of the world.

Path towards Lachen

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Slush slush slush 😀

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One of the numerous bridges we saw on the way

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Trip_day6and7 052River Teesta never let us 😀

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By the time we reached Lachen, it was almost dark and there was no power in the village. We had booked our room in Padim Lodge, which is a modest house with basic rooms. It was a very cold night and the hosts served us piping hot food for dinner in that weather. To reach Gurudongmor and back to Lachen, one has to begin the journey at 3 AM in the morning. Even though it is around 60-odd km from Lachen, the road conditions make the journey a long, but beautiful one.

A sign board after Mangan

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Tomorrow is the day we visit Gurudongmor lake, our first visit to such high altitude lakes, my first altitude sickness.. More on it later here..