TSOMGO LAKE GUIDE
Why Should I Go
The sheer brilliance of natural beauty is reason enough to visit the Tsomgo Lake. Majestic silver firs and pine trees skirt the gorgeous glacial lake that is almost a kilometer long. Changing seasons bring new colours to the lake waters, from sapphire blue in spring time to a dark inky green as winter approaches. Monsoons bring mists that shroud the lake adding to its mysterious aura. Springtime ushers in a riot of colours to the pristine surroundings of the lake with a variety of flowers. The area is resplendent with birdlife; rose finches, yellow-bellied fantail flycatchers, golden eagles and a host of migratory birds such as tufted pochards, brown-headed gulls and the famed brahminy ducks. Animals even though present are rather elusive. However, if you’re lucky you might spot musk deers, gorals or red pandas in the higher range of Tsomgo. There are records of leopard and Himalayan black bear sightings too.
How Do I Get There
Nestled in the snow-capped mountains Himalayas of Sikkim, at a precipitous height of 12,500 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.
When Should Land Up
The lake is open to visitors all year round. Even though winters are exceptionally cold, if you’re ready to brave the minus zero temperature, the frozen, mist-shrouded lake surrounded by snowy cliffs looks nothing short of ethereal. Summer (May to October) however, is the perfect time to go. The snow begins to melt and wildflowers, from rhododendrons to irises and poppies, bloom around the lake making it look pretty as a postcard.
Like any other region in the northeast, the culture of the Sikkimese draws deeply from its natural surroundings. Be it a mountain, lake or a waterfall, each one is associated with a folktale of its own and Lake Tsomgo is no exception. The name Tsomgo comes from two Bhutia words, (Tso- lake and go- head). According to legend, back in the day, there was a barn for yaks where the lake is currently situated. One day, an old woman, a yak herder, who lived there had a dream where she was asked to vacate the place since it would soon be flooded with water. She obeyed the dream but her other herder friends refused to believe her. As soon as she left, she saw an old woman with flowing snow-white hair enter the valley and the place was filled with water, drowning the other herders who had refused to leave. The woman with white hair is believed to be the guardian deity of the lake that later came to be known as Tsomgo.
During ancient times, lamas would predict the future based on the ever-changing colours of the lake. In present day, the lake is still revered as a sacred spot amongst locals who visit it every year during Gurupurnima along with shamans to offer prayers.
Do not forget to carry a valid ID proof. Make sure you wear proper shoes since there might be snow in the region. Wear warm clothes. Carry enough water and savouries since the high altitude might make you feel a vit woozy if you’re not well acclimatized.