Gurudongmar Lake (also known as Gurudogmar Lake) is one of the highest lakes in the world located at an altitude of 17,100 feet (5,148 m). It lies on the North side of the Khangchengyao Range in a high plateau area contiguous to the Tibetan Plateau. The stream emerging from the lake is one of the source-streams of the Tista River.
The lake is named after Guru Nanak Dev ji , who is also known as Guru Dongmar. It is located close to the Indo-China Border in the province of North Sikkim, Sikkim, India.
The lake remains completely frozen in the winter months from November to Mid-May except for one small part of the lake which is supposed to be touched and blessed by the Guru Nanak Dev ji .
The lake is highly revered by the Sikkimese and Buddhists and the waters are supposed to have curative properties. The Indian Army got into a conflict with the Sikkim Government when they erected a gurdwara (a Sikh temple) near the lake in the 1990s : the gurdwara has now become a ‘Sarva Dharma Sthal’(House of worship for All Religions), and ruffled feathers have been smoothened.
Due to the extremely inhospitable terrain and the difficulties associated with reaching the place, the lake sees only a handful of visitors each year. Access is strictly controlled at the Army checkpost at Giagong. Due to the altitude, there is a scarcity of oxygen. Visitors are advised to acclimatise overnight at Lachen, carry medicines like Coca 10, Deryphyllin etc., and to descend quickly in case of acute or persistent discomfort. Over-excitement and loud, stressful talking should be avoided.
Gurudongmar Lake at 5200M above sea level is one of the highest lakes in the world. The drive to this lake is one of the most picturesque in all of Sikkim. Along the drive the landscape is a beautiful, lush green until you reach Thangu where, as you climb higher, the tree line disappears and the lush green panoramas turn into a barren and foreboding landscape. Frozen for most of the year the lake is fabled as the site where both Guru Nanak Dev JI and Guru Rinpoche are said to have paused while traveling through the region. These two men of God, Guru Nanak Dev ji and Guru Rinpoche, are said to have helped the locals with sourcing water from the lake.
In the lake, which is seemingly frozen solid, there is one spot that never freezes, the place where Guru Nanak bathed. That spot is considered ‘amrit’. Beyond the lake we find the armed forces stationed in bunkers, some of which are located as high as 22,000 ft.—higher than even the Siachen glacier.
Truly amazing is the site of small tanks stationed at this height in the mountains of Sikkim. The area being a plateau, is probably the only place where tanks can be used effectively at such a high altitude.