Changu Lake, also called Tsogmo Lake or Tsonmgo Lake or Tshangu Lake is a glacial lake which interestingly translates to ‘Head/Source of Lake’ in Bhutia language. Located in East Sikkim district 40 km from Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim, this beauty in blue is perched at an altitude of 3780 m. The azure colour of the lake turns into white of ice in winters. The journey to this one of the most beautiful lakes of Himalayas is highly adventurous, as the road is quite steep and gains elevation rapidly. As you take the journey, you have a rendezvous with history, since this was the Old Silk route before 1962.
Changu Lake is a protected area owing to its proximity with the Chinese border, hence a Protected Area Permit is required to travel to the place. Indians can get their permits from the Police Check Post, and foreigners can get theirs from the Tourism and Civil Aviation department and Police Check Post. A mix of adventure and natural beauty, the journey to Changu Lake or Tsomgo Lake is one of the most important and exotic highlights of travelling through Sikkim.
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Places To See Near Changu Lake (Tsomgo Lake)
The Nathu La is a Himalayan Pass that connects Indian border to the border of Tibet in China. It was sealed in 1962 after the Indo- Sino war, but was reopened in 2006. Its elevation is 4310 m and the presence of oxygen is low. Since Nathu La is a restricted area, only Indian tourists are permitted to visit here, that too with special permits. What makes it more exotic is the fact that the pass lies on the old Silk route.
Baba Mandir is a shrine dedicated to martyred Indian soldier Harbhajan Singh. The brave army man who died during the Indo – Sino war is believed to protect the soldiers stationed at the tough terrain of India and China border through his spirit. The intrigue of this place is increased by the fact that Harbhajan Singh is respected by Chinese soldiers too.
Kyongsola Alpine Sanctuary
Kyongsola is a wildlife sanctuary located 31 km from Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim. The exotic and rare Red Panda can be spotted here, along with beautiful birds like Blood pheasants. You will find colourful rhododendrons and orchids along with trees like Juniper and silver firs. It also gives beautiful views of the city of Gangok.
Jhakhri, or Banjhakhri, as it is often called, is a theme park in Gangtok. The park based on shamanistic (magical religious healing) theme has a beautiful waterfall amidst it and is full of greenery all around. It has magnificent and elaborate sculptures as per the theme of shamanism.
Tseten Tashi Cave
It is a natural, 20 ft high cave located only at a kilometers distance from Kyongsola Alpine Sanctuary. Named after the famous Sikkimese naturalist Tseten Tashi, the cave has a passage that leads to the top.
Best Time to Visit Changu Lake (Tsomgo Lake)
January to March
The Tsogmo lake is a thick and pristine sheet of ice during these months. You can enjoy yak safari on the snow along the bank of the lake.
April to September
The snow starts melting in April and you start to see the cool water of the lake. The colourful rhododendrons and orchids around the lake during this time make it a sight to behold.
October to December
The lake starts freezing again from October. This is the time when migratory birds from coldest corners of the world take refuge in the partially frozen waters of the lake.
Changu Lake Weather
Summer (April to September)
Summer heralds with the start of melting of the ice. The weather is pleasant and the temperature goes above 20 C in peak summer months like June.
Winter (October to March)
The start of freezing of the lake marks the onset of winters. The temperature dips below 0 C, and the lake gets completely frozen by January.
Changu Lake Photos
1) Frozen Changu Lake in Winter
2) Yak Safari Beside Changu Lake
3) Nathu La in Winter
4) Baba Mandir
5) Shamanic Sculpture at Jhakri
6) Yaks on Changu Lake
Cover Photo Credit: Rupak Sarkar