Why Visit Tsomgo Lake in Gangtok, Sikkim [AKA CHANGU LAKE]

Tsomgo lake, also known as Changu lake, is a scenic glacier lake at an altitude of 3753 mtrs, located in Gangtok, Sikkim.

This is one of the best high altitude lake in India, mainly due to its beauty which has given it a surge of popularity.

So, while I was planning what to do in Sikkim, a visit to Tsomgo popped up as a “must-see”.

And I have to agree…

tsomgo lake gif

Short clip of Tsomgo

Reasons to Visit The Stunning Tsomgo Lake

Year round attraction

Tsomgo lake looks spectacular in any season. With the alpine vegetation and flowers blooming in summer months or snow covered flats in winters. No matter when you choose to visit, you can enjoy excellent views all around.

This is how it will look if you visit Tsomgo lake in November –

tsomgo lake gangtok

Check out the stunning reflections 🙂

Yak Rides

Visitors also come for Yak rides but as an animal lover, I would avoid them. It is much better to watch wild yaks chilling in these pristine valleys – trust me on that.

Say no to riding animals

yaks in tsomgo

Tame Yaks for rides

yaks in sikkim

Decorated to attract tourists 🙁

One of the Top Glacier Lakes of India

Looking at the crowds willing to freeze over for one look at this beautiful lake, I could instantly gauge its popularity. Plus it is deemed as one of the top 10 lakes of Great Himalayas along with other stunning lakes like Pangong Tso in Ladakh or the lovely Suraj Tal in Spiti.

tsomgo lake scenery

Tsomgo lake is so scenic

Great Spot for Migratory Birds

We were hoping to spot some high altitude birds like the stunning Blood pheasant or the elusive Tragopan. Sadly, we had no such luck due to weather/timing.

tsomgo lake birds

A lone Cormorant looking for fish

We did spot Brahminy ducks here at Tsomgo and snow pigeons in Yumthang Valley. Our early morning birding trips to Kyongnosla and Fambong Lho sanctuaries were amazing but not very fruitful either.

Brahminy duck in Tsomgo

Brahminy duck in Tsomgo

However, with the right timing and a good naturalist, I am pretty sure we  will be headed back in hopes of spotting these beauties.

So, Tsomgo easily makes the bucket list for many adventurists and nature enthusiasts from all over India. Since north east is still less explored, the crowds are far from maddening and you can easily find spots with zero tourists for those perfect picture opportunities.

Lone wild yak on the road

Lone wild yak on the road

My only problem was taking gloves off to hold the camera – now that was a challenge in the sub zero climate. Brrrr.

changu lake

Snow covered valleys and exotic 360 degree views

Tips for Visiting Tsomgo lake

Always check Tsomgo lake weather forecast – Weather in Sikkim during November can be unpredictable to say the least. It’s best to check weather and avoid rain. It will be cold and expect it to snow anytime – which is actually a good time to visit. I was totally mesmerized by all the snow around.

Tsomgo lake permit – We got our permit for Tsomgo through a local agent but you can easily ask around in MG Marg, Gangtok for how to apply. Just ensure you carry several passport size photos for various permits in Sikkim and have your driver/ guide arrange the nitty gritty for you – its usually included in their fees.

tsomgo lake permit

This is how our Tsomgo lake permit looked like

Wear snow boots and proper snow gear – If you plan to go in winters like I did, it would be best to wear snow boots and proper gear or rent at one of the many stalls at Tsomgo. I wasn’t wearing proper shoes so it could get uncomfortable and slippery.

tsomgo lake gangtok sikkim

I covered up well but missed my boots at home 🙁 not very smart!

Head further to Nathula pass or Baba mandir from Tsomgo lake – Its easy to go to both the places from Tsomgo though we skipped it as I am more into nature than borders or temples 🙂

changu lake sikkim

Where else you can go from Tsomgo

Visit Kyongnosla Alpine Sanctuary en-route – Since Kyongnosla is on the way to Tsomgo, why not add another spot to your day trip? Its easy, pretty and fun for a quick walk. We went in hopes of spotting high altitude birds but if you are lucky you can even spot some game.

views enroute to tsomgo

So much to see enroute including such veiws

Equalize your ears – You go from 5400 – 12000 ft in a matter of 1.5 hours which can block your ears. Gulp sips of water regularly to keep them equalized. Other tips are yawning or swallowing.

Visit during morning hours to avoid bad weather

cold tsomgo

It can get really cold here. Brrrr

Ensure you book a big sturdy cab as roads aren’t brilliant – We booked a comfortable innova and were happy as it kept my motion sickness at bay, even with the bad roads.

Long winding roads to Tsomgo

Long winding roads to Tsomgo

How to Reach Tsomgo Lake from Gangtok

Just 35 kms north of Gangtok, it is easily accessible by car (that was our preferred mode of transport around Sikkim, atleast). Gangtok to Tsomgo takes around 2 hours due to the high altitude (Gangtok is just 5400 ft, vs Changu lake at over 12,000 ft).

That’s all you need to know before you visit Tsmogo lake. Now, go and explore Sikkim 🙂

3 Comments

  1. Important information.
    Good work.

  2. After reading your post, it feels like visiting Tsomgo lake asap. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  3. Wow, this destination looks awesome! Thank you for a great post!

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