“Where do I travel this time?” , was the biggest question running in my mind in the month of April 2016. Bored of the usual tourist locations and also thinking about the hot weather in North India at this time, I stumbled upon this article titled, “Sikkim with the blue yonder”.
A Lake at 18,000 feet, inhospitable terrain, risk of high altitude sickness and one of the world’s highest lakes – a perfect destination to explore on my trip.
Folklore says that Guru Rinpoche (Founder of Tibetan Buddhism, after whom the lake is named) visited the lake in 8th century and touched the water of this lake. Since then no matter how freezing the temperatures are, about half of the lake remains unfrozen. The Holy waters of this lake is also considered to be one of purest water source on earth.
My journey to the lake began early morning at 0400 from Lachen town of Sikkim where I halted for the previous night and was fortunate enough to survive an earthquake. It was a 5 hours long, tricky but beautiful road journey in a shared taxi. The roads in those barren lands were long and winding, but every curve gave a hope of finding something extraordinary at the other end.
We also crossed many Army check posts along the way and at the last such check point before the lake, the Army personnel’s checked all vehicles and specifically asked for presence of any children or old aged persons or people with health issues. When I checked with my Taxi driver on the reasons behind this drill, I came to know that a family once tried to hide their kid in the car from the Army jawans and took him to the lake – and the kid died there, due to lack of oxygen at this high-altitude region. These checks are part of the precautions in place to avoid such incidents. Over smartness can prove fatal here, so my advice is don’t risk it or argue with the Army jawans.
At this point, I had goose bumps and my heart expressed gratitude to our Army jawans who are posted here protecting our borders, where they have to battle not only our enemies but also hostile weather and that too in a terrain, where even a healthy person like me is not allowed to stay (at lake) for more than 45 minutes.
Once at the lake and out of my shared Taxi, I was gripped by marvellous sight of the majestic lake nestled amongst snow- capped mountains. I fall short of words to express the sense of calm which I felt in the moments I spent there. The place left me gasping for breath and more!
My visit to Gurudongmar Lake will thus remain memorable for all that I have shared above, right from the start of my journey till the destination.