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Tsomgo or Changu Lake in East Sikkim—Attracting Travelers for Ages

Updated on November 30, 2019
Prantika Samanta profile image

Educated as a microbiologist, trained as an editor, a quintessential nomad soul grounded to the earth. Loves anything that touches her soul

Some places of Sikkim and Changu Lake

Tsomgo or Changu Lake—a Glacial Lake

Nestled in the lofty mountains and nearly 40 kilometers away from Gangtok, Tsomgo or Changu Lake is a high altitude, glacial lake of East Sikkim.

The lake is situated at an elevation of around 12,000 ft above the sea level.

One of legends associated with the lake is that the Buddhist monks in the early days used to study the lake water color to predict the future.

Tsomgo means “source of water” in Bhutia language with “Tso” meaning “lake” and “mgo” meaning “head.”

A close shot
A close shot | Source

Sikkim—a Treasure Trove of Scenic Beauty

Dotted with grand statues, fluttering colored flags, and beautiful monasteries, the land allures travelers throughout the year. Though monsoon may not be considered, the season has a different charm of its own in the misty mountains.

The lakes of Sikkim, be it Gurudongmar Lake or any other, fascinate us with their uniqueness and splendor.

Historically Significant

Located in the ancient Gangtok‒Lhasa trade route between Sikkim and Tibet and currently on the way to New Baba Mandir and Nathu La, the lake has always been the center of attraction and has remained popular until today.

The drive to the lake from Gangtok is through the mountain terrain and takes almost 2 hours to reach the lake and offers picturesque views.

New Baba Mandir (outside), a shrine built in the honor of the valiant soldier of Indian Army, Harbhajan Singh.
New Baba Mandir (outside), a shrine built in the honor of the valiant soldier of Indian Army, Harbhajan Singh. | Source
The view of Lord Shiva in sitting position from New Baba Mandir
The view of Lord Shiva in sitting position from New Baba Mandir | Source

The Snow-Fed Lake

The spectacular lake is oval in shape shaped and surrounded by mountains and has a length of around 2,743 ft, width of 1,401 ft, and maximum depth of around 15 ft.

New Look in Different Seasons

The beauty of the lake varies from one season to another.

While summer and autumn blossoms add to the beauty of the lake, it remains frozen during the winter. During October and November, the water is clear and the reflections of the surrounding mountains can be clearly visible on a sunny day.

Sacred Lake

Tsomgo Lake is revered by the Sikkimese as a sacred lake. There are prayer wheels adjacent to the lake. Every year, Jhakris—the faith healers of Sikkim—across the state gather here on Guru Purnima to offer prayers.

The lake region is rich in Alpine vegetation and a stopover for migratory birds.

Ambience Ideal for All Ages

We reached Tsomgo Lake around 11.30 am and the view of the lake with little snow on the adjacent mountains on a sunny day is a sheer bliss.

We were amazed by the spectacular scenic view of the place.

Attractions Around the Lake

1. Yak Safari

It was quite cold and a windy day, however many tourists went for yak rides adjacent to the lake. The rate of the yak safari depends on the season and the distance you want to cover during the safari. It is better to hone your bargaining skill before you choose to go for a yak safari.

Yak Safari and Ropeway

A yak with a woolen horn gear basking in the sun
A yak with a woolen horn gear basking in the sun | Source
Travelers need to climb the stairs to reach the ticket counter of the ropeway
Travelers need to climb the stairs to reach the ticket counter of the ropeway | Source

2. Tsomgo Passenger Ropeway

The cable car ropeway ride that offers the panoramic view of the lake and mountains has gained popularity among the tourists. Its operation began from July 2017 and it is Asia's top highest ropeway. The cable car ride begins from the lower station (at an altitude of around 12,900 ft) located a little above and on the side of Tsomgo Lake to reach the upper station at a height of around 14,500 ft.

Each cabin can accommodate 6 passengers. The ticket counter is next to the lake and one has to climb a flight of stairs to reach the ticket counter. The price of each ticket is INR 325 (for both sides), however, the price may change, so it is better to check the prices.

3. Stalls

There are stalls nearby selling tea, coffee, and snacks. Also, some of them rent out snow boots, jackets, and other woolens.

Do you enjoy cable car ride?

See results

Protected Area Permit

Both Tsomgo Lake and New Baba Mandir are protected areas, so domestic tourists as well as foreign nationals require Protected Area Permit (PAP) to visit the lake and the shrine. Documentation for domestic tourists include Photo ID proof (Voters Card, Passport, and Driving License) and photographs. The permit can be made through a registered tour operator but the tour operator needs to be informed well in advance.

Full Day Excursion

A day-long excursion is generally planned clubbing the visit of two popular spots, Tsongmo Lake New Baba Mandir, which are only a few kilometer apart. The ropeway ride may take time if the queue is long. Therefore, it is better to start the day early in order to cover both the destinations appropriately.

Source

Winter Vacation—Heavy Woolens and Other Measures

If you are planning to visit the lake during the winter when the temperature is very low, you must carry heavy woolens to combat the cold. The route may remain closed due to heavy snowfall during the winter. When we visited in early November last year, it was quite cold, and the weather changed drastically within a span of few hours. It was a sunny day, but within some time, the sky was covered with clouds.

The winter scenic view, especially from the cable car (during the ropeway ride) after snowfall is a visual delight—snow all around, the frozen lake, and meandering road. Playing on the ice is also a major attraction, but play only in the designated areas. However, the temperature is quite low and some may find difficult to breath. Proper measures should be taken to make the holiday a memorable one.

Vehicles for New Baba Mandir and Tsomgo Lake

Shared or reserved vehicles can be selected for the tour. Four-seater vehicles are allowed for the New Baba Mandir and Tsomgo Lake visit.

If your trip is organized by a registered tour operator, the desired car will be provided by the operator.

Best Time to Visit the Lake

October to early to mid December and from March to May, but monsoon to be avoided.

Nearest Railway Station and Airport (West Bengal)

New Jalpaiguri (NJP) Station/Bagdogra Airport: Several options can be availed to reach Gangtok. You can hire a shared taxi or reserve a cab. If your tour is organized by a registered tour operator, a car will be organized from the operator's end. The drive will take around 4.5 hours but the scenic view is breathtaking—rolling hills, meandering roads, gushing Teesta river, and lush greenery.

Helicopter Service Between Bagdogra Airport and Gangtok

You can opt the helicopter service to fly from Bagdogra Airport to Gangtok, which takes around 35 minutes. As the seats are limited and there are rules pertaining to weight, it is better to reserve the seats in advance. Bookings and related information can be available in the STDC website.

Nearest Airport (Sikkim)

Pakyong Airport is around 31 km away from Gangtok. It is one of India's highest airports and commercial flight operations started in October 4, 2018.

Points to Remember While Booking the Flight to the Pakyong Airport

Our flight was scheduled from Kolkata Airport to Pakyong Airport in early November 2018. The flight timing got delayed and the flight was eventually cancelled due to poor weather condition and low visibility. The airlines company could not manage to organize a flight for all the passengers on the same day.

We got reservations for the next day flight to Bagdogra Airport but that too in two batches. We were five members, of which two of us got the reservation for the early morning flight and the remaining three of us got reservation for next day early afternoon flight. However, the airlines managed to arrange all the seats in the next day early morning flight. No additional cost was charged for rescheduling the flight by the airlines.

Our schedule went for a toss and we suffered financial losses (hotel and cab charges for the day), as we lost a day. So, if you are booking tickets until Pakyong Airport, plan your schedule accordingly, it's better to keep an alternate arrangement or keep a day buffer.

For Navigation Purpose

A
New Jalpaiguri Station:
New Jalpaiguri Jn., Ward 35, Nayapara, Siliguri, West Bengal 734007, India

get directions

One of the major stations of northern West Bengal. It is connected with various stations In India.

B
Gangtok:
Gangtok, Sikkim, India

get directions

It is the capital of Sikkim and is well connected to the other parts of the state.

C
Bagdogra Airport:
Bagdogra International Airport, Airport Road, Bagdogra, Siliguri, West Bengal 734421, India

get directions

The only airport of northern West Bengal.

D
Tsomgo Lake:
Tsongmo Lake, Sikkim 737103

get directions

It is a glacial lake situated in East Sikkim. Four seater and large vehicles are allowed to visit the lake. PAP is required for all tourists.

E
Pakyong Airport:
Pakyong Airport, west, Pakyong, Sikkim 737106, India

get directions

It is the only airport of Sikkim.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 Prantika Samanta

Comments

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    • Prantika Samanta profile imageAUTHOR

      Prantika Samanta 

      2 weeks ago from Kolkata, India

      Glad you have liked it. Please do visit.

    • Luis G Asuncion profile image

      Luis G Asuncion 

      2 weeks ago from City of San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan, Philippines

      Wow, I would like to experience this for real. Thanks for sharing it.

    • Prantika Samanta profile imageAUTHOR

      Prantika Samanta 

      6 weeks ago from Kolkata, India

      Thank you. Glad that you have liked the place.

    • Suchismita pradhan profile image

      Suchismita pradhan 

      6 weeks ago from India

      Very informative with enticing pics .your article made me put this amazing place in my bucket list.Thanks for sharing

    • Prantika Samanta profile imageAUTHOR

      Prantika Samanta 

      6 weeks ago from Kolkata, India

      Thank you so very much. I love Sikkim, and the land keeps calling me. I am delighted that you have liked the article. Please do visit the place. You are going to have a great vacation.

    • Prantika Samanta profile imageAUTHOR

      Prantika Samanta 

      6 weeks ago from Kolkata, India

      Thank you, Peggy, for our kind words. I am glad to know that you have liked the photos and descriptions.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      6 weeks ago from Houston, Texas

      Thank you for sharing this part of the world with us. It is beautiful judging from your photos and descriptions.

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 

      6 weeks ago from New Delhi, India

      Beautifully presented article of these wonderful places in Sikkim, with abundance of natural beauty.

      Your travel articles are wonderfully done and informative. Hope to visit this sometime in the future.

      Thanks for sharing this. Many would be benefitted by your article.

    • Prantika Samanta profile imageAUTHOR

      Prantika Samanta 

      6 weeks ago from Kolkata, India

      Sikkim is such a beautiful place that you can visit it more than once. So,keep the lake in your wish list, and visit it next time.

    • Prantika Samanta profile imageAUTHOR

      Prantika Samanta 

      6 weeks ago from Kolkata, India

      Thank you, Niks. Sikkim is an amazing place blessed with mountains, waterfalls, lakes, flora, fauna, and the people are friendly. Keep it in your wish list and if you love hill stations, you are going to fall in love with the land. I can vouch for that.

    • Prantika Samanta profile imageAUTHOR

      Prantika Samanta 

      6 weeks ago from Kolkata, India

      Thank you. The view from the cable car during winter, specifically this one, is spectacular. The view of a thick sheet of snow below, frozen lake, meandering roads is a sheer bliss. But the temperature is quite low and the altitude is high. If vising the place with preventive measures, it would definitely be a wonderful visit.

    • Abitha Deepak profile image

      Abitha 

      6 weeks ago from Chennai, Tamilnadu

      Prantika.

      I love cable car rides; they offer the best views. A detailed article loaded with useful info. Lovely clicks as well, Cheers!

    • Niks007 profile image

      Niks 

      6 weeks ago from India

      Going to Sikkim is on my list. This article has raised my curiosity about this place. It's very informative and the photos make the reader plan a trip to this amazing lake. Thank you for sharing such a wonderful travel trip.

    • Natasha Tungare profile image

      Natasha Tungare 

      6 weeks ago from India

      I have been to Sikkim!! I missed this lake!

    • Prantika Samanta profile imageAUTHOR

      Prantika Samanta 

      6 weeks ago from Kolkata, India

      Thank you so much for reading my article and finding it helpful. Perhaps the things are much better now. Nothing went as per our plan that day. However, the next few days of our trip was memorable. All's well that ends well.

    • Swapnil Ghosh profile image

      Swapnil Ghosh 

      6 weeks ago from Kolkata

      Thank you for sharing your experience of the place as well as of the problems you faced with the airlines. I'll surely keep in mind the points you made while making plans to travel to this place.

    • Prantika Samanta profile imageAUTHOR

      Prantika Samanta 

      6 weeks ago from Kolkata, India

      Thank you, Arpita. I am so glad that you have liked it.

    • profile image

      Arpita 

      6 weeks ago

      Always a pleasure reading your articles Prantika...descriptive and informative

    • Prantika Samanta profile imageAUTHOR

      Prantika Samanta 

      7 weeks ago from Kolkata, India

      Thank you so very much. Delighted to know that you have liked my article.

    • Swapnil Ghosh profile image

      Swapnil Ghosh 

      7 weeks ago from Kolkata

      A very informative article. Would love to visit the place and discover it. Thanks for this.

    • Prantika Samanta profile imageAUTHOR

      Prantika Samanta 

      7 weeks ago from Kolkata, India

      Thank you, Surya. Please do visit Sikkim, it is very beautiful.

    • Prantika Samanta profile imageAUTHOR

      Prantika Samanta 

      7 weeks ago from Kolkata, India

      Thank you, Murali, and I am delighted to know that the article took you 10 years back. It was my second visit to Gangtok. Indeed it's a wonderful place.

    • Surya Sashank Rasinkar profile image

      Surya Sashank Rasinkar 

      7 weeks ago

      As a kid I always thought to visit Sikkim. This article showered it's beauty on me and showed me why I need to visit

    • hmkrishna profile image

      Halemane Muralikrishna 

      7 weeks ago from South India

      Hi Ms Prantika, I felt as if I have visited Gangtok once again after ten years. Wonderful article with very good eye-catching photos. Sikkim is a really an incredible place for tourists.

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