The Sikkim Diary - Gurudongmar Lake

Next morning we started for Lachen after breakfast. Lachen is a village situated in North Sikkim. There was nothing to see at the village itself, but it was our night halt to Gurudongmar. It was a 3D-2N package trip arranged by our hotel. The driver had absolutely no sense of punctuality and he arrived two hours late. There were 3 other groups with us in the car and uncivilized & cheap would be an understatement to describe them. Taking a shared vehicle was the biggest mistake in the entire trip. Lachen trip was long and uneventful, except the constant whining of those pain in the a$$ b!tches. We started at 12 in the morning and reached Lachen at 9.30 pm. Our phones were out of network coverage. It was about 2 degrees out there. We were completely exhausted and hungry and ready to hit the bed after a quick dinner. It was so cold that everything felt wet. The hotel was not a very standard one, toilet was not clean, and heater was not working.

On the way to Lachen

We had to wake up at 3o’ clock and our car started at around 4.30 in the morning. It was completely dark outside. The road was steep and broken. Despite the feel of adventure I was almost half dead with stomach pain. After 2 hours we reached Thangu valley; we stopped there for breakfast. Thangu valley is situated at 13500 ft altitude. When we reached, it started snowing there. We stopped at a small roadside shop where a family was making tea and food for the tourists. We had tea and steamed bread. There was an extremely adorable puppy; it was playing with all the tourists.

Thangu valley

We started from Thangu at 7.30 and reached Gurudongmar at 9 am. The scenic beauty all the way was beyond my description. There was snow everywhere, yaks grazing on the distant valley, army camps, bunkers, and army people walking past our cars sometimes, and the beautiful moving shadow of the floating clouds on the ground. I almost forgot my physical pain.

Gurudongmar Lake is situated at 17500 feet altitude. So we were getting very little oxygen to breathe. The lake was totally frozen, but we heard it had clear blue water when thawed. Gurudongmar is considered to be one of the holiest among Tibetan-Buddhists. The legend says Guru Padmasambhava washed his feet in this lake. Legend or no legend, standing there, in front of the lake, at 17500 feet high, in minus temperature, I felt something I had never felt before.
There was a temple near the lake, built by the military. You had to take off your shoes before entering it. I went to the temple and sat there for some time, the priest offered me Prasad. The military guy at the temple was saying everybody would come here to take photo from outside but no one would enter. We could guess how lonely he was from the spontaneous flow of his words. He probably never got a chance to have long conversation here.

We were supposed to start for Lachung on that day in the afternoon. But my health condition was deteriorating, I got food poisoning somehow. So we decided to return to Gangtok. Our driver arranged a car for us from Chumthang, we shared it with a Telugu family coming from Lachung. Earlier we had thought we would reach Gangtok by 8 pm, but then it started raining and the driver got confused in the dark. It was probably the most adventurous experience I ever had. We were all in the car, and it was raining outside. No sign of light anywhere, except the headlights of our car. No sign of light on the distant hills either. We did not even know where we were, except the occasional milestones alerting us about the distance of the nearest village. 

Every ten minutes we were counting the distance we might have covered so far and how much more time it would take us to reach the city. And I was dreaming of the white clean bed of my hotel room all the way.
When we finally reached Gangtok, it was 10 pm and I had no energy left in my body to walk or even stand. Luckily, we got rooms and I finally found my refuge in my clean, white, warm bed.
Next part coming soon. :)