The Eastern Himalayan state of India, Sikkim is often referred to as the dreamland of India. Located in the North Eastern part of India, Sikkim is endowed with diverse landscapes like high altitude lakes, the Himalayan ranges including Mt Kanchendzonga and stunning valleys. The Sikkim Lakes are major tourist attractions either due to its high altitude or sanctity and sometimes both. The lakes are not only mesmerising but, revered by people of different religions. While some of these lakes are listed amongst the highest altitude lakes in the world, others are worshipped by people of multiple faiths.
7 Most serene lakes in Sikkim
- Gurudongmar Lake
- Tsomgo Lake
- Khecheopalri Lake
- Menmecho Lake
- Tso Lhamo Lake
- Lampokhari Lake
- Kupup Lake
1) Gurudongmar Lake
Gurudongmar Lake is located in North Sikkim and is one of the highest altitude lakes in India and the world. It is located at the height of 17,000 ft in the Eastern Himalayas. Snow-laden mountains completely surround Gurudongmar Lake. It is a glacial lake that freezes during the winter months. There is a particular spot in the lake that doesn’t freeze during winters.
As the legend goes, it is so because it was blessed by Guru Padmasambhava to provide drinking water to the natives. The Gurudongmar Lake is amongst the holy Sikkim lakes for Sikhs, Hindus and Buddhists. The water of this lake is believed to have healing powers and devotees paying homage to this lake carry the water back in containers. Being located in the proximity of Tibet, the lake is visited by Indians and Tibetans alike.
Note-Foreigners have to take a special permit to visit Gurudongmar Lake.
- How to reach– 4 hours drive from Gangtok to Lachen, 2 hours 49 minutes drive from Lachen to Gurudongmar Lake
- Best time to visit– Between November and June
Also See: 18 Top Places to visit in North Sikkim
2) Tsomgo Lake
Popularly known as Lake Changu, the Tsomgo Lake is another in the list of high altitude Sikkim Lakes. It is the most visited lake in Sikkim by tourists. For the Sikkimese people, Changu Lake is a holy lake that is believed to have healing powers. Tsomgo Lake is situated at an elevation of 12,313 ft in the Eastern Sikkim where it is nestled between multiple steep and rugged mountains that form a beautiful backdrop.
The lake freezes during winters and gets water from the melted snow of the surrounding mountains in the summer season. Tsomgo Lake lies on the Gangtok-Nathula Pass and is located very close to Chinese Border.
Note-For its location, all Indians have to attain a permit to visit the Tsomgo Lake. A special permit is required for foreigners to visit this Sikkim Lake.
- How to reach– 2 hours drive from Gangtok
- Best time to visit-January to March
3) Khecheopalri Lake
Khecheopalri Lake is located between a tropical forest in the West Sikkim. Situated at an altitude of 5,600 ft, Khecheopalri lies between Gyalshing and Yuksom. Revered by both Hindus and Buddhists Khecheopalri lake is the holiest of lakes in Sikkim, and is regarded as a wish fulfilling lake . As per myths, even the birds protect this sacred lake and are not seen carrying anything that can disturb the lake’s water.
The crystal clear and green water is a significant reason for the high flocking of tourists. This Sikkim Lake has grown to become an essential destination in recent times due to the increase in the number of tourists. There is a bridge that leads to the front of the lake to facilitates both pilgrims and tourists in offering prayers. A huge religious fair is organised here for two days on the occasion of Maghe Purne.
Note– No special permits required to visit Khecheopalri Lake.
- How to reach– 1 hour 30 minutes drive from Pelling to Khecheopalri Lake.
- Best time to visit– March to May
4) Menmecho Lake
The Menmecho Lake falls in the list high altitude Sikkim Lakes near Tsomgo Lake. It lies 20 km ahead of the Tsomgo Lake, at a higher elevation of 12,500 ft. The lake is surrounded by rugged hills, forests and multiple rock formation. The major highlights of the Menmecho Lake are trouts, fish farm and the dark bungalow lodge. Fishing is allowed in Menmecho Lake and is one of the most favoured activities here. Tourists can either spend the night at the bungalow or a nearby lodge.
Note– A special permit for fishing is required from Gangtok.
- How to reach– 43 minutes drive from Changu Lake
- Best time to visit– January to May
5) Tso Lhamo Lake
The Tso Lhamo Lake is one of the highest altitude Sikkim lakes in the world, with a location higher than the Gurudongmar Lake. Also known as the Cholamu Lake, this is the highest altitude lake in India. It is a glacial and freshwater lake with clear water. At the height of 17,490 ft, this North Sikkim Lake is tough to reach due to adverse weather conditions. Though the pictures of its clear water and beautiful background appeals to everyone, it is better to give it a miss.
Apart from the challenging weather, getting a permit is also not easy. Gurudongmar Lake offers a similar experience. Hence, visiting Gurudongmar lake is more feasible.
Note– You cannot visit Tso Lhamo Lake without special permits from Sikkim police and Indian army.
- How to reach-4 hours drive from Gangtok to Lachen,3 hours drive from Lachen to Tso Lhamo Lake
- Best time to visit– In October and November when clear sky can be expected.
6) Lampokhari Lake
Lampokhari Lake is one of the oldest natural Sikkim Lakes. The lake is also known as Aritar Lake and is nestled at an altitude of 4,600 ft with the lush surrounding. The shape of the Aritar Lake resembles the human. The colour of the water of Lampokhari lake is emerald green that gives the lake a refreshing touch. The Aritar Lake is connected to the Mankhim mountain top through a narrow bird-watching trail. Walking around the lake can be very rejuvenating.
Note– Lampokhari lake the only high altitude lake in Sikkim where Boating is allowed.
- How to Reach– 3 hours drive from Gangtok to Lampokhari Lake
- Best time to visit– March to May
Also See: Places to visit in Gangtok in 2 Days
7) Kupup Lake
Kupup Lake is one of the most sacred Sikkim Lakes. It is also known as Bitan Cho and Hathi Pokhari Lake by locals. Kupup Lake is also called the Elephant Lake due to the shape resemblance. The Kupup lake is situated at an altitude of 13,066 ft above sea level. The lake remains frozen during the winter season. The lake is also surrounded by an impressive-looking valley.
The Kupup village once served as a transit point of the Silk Route. Kupup also has a Yak Golf Course at an altitude of 13,000 ft, the highest of its kind in the world. The viewpoints around Kupup Lake includes Mt. Kanchendzonga, the Old Baba Mandir and Menmecho Lake.
Note– No accommodation is available near Kupup Lake.
- How to reach– 2 hours 7 minutes drive from Gangtok to Kupup Lake
- Best Time to Visit– April to July
The most important thing to keep in mind before visiting these high altitude Sikkim lakes is the weather. Most of the roads are closed during heavy rainfall and snowfall. To ensure safe and pleasing travel, it is better to visit when the sky is clear or in the summer season.