Changu Lake or Tsomgo Lake, located in Gangtok, is one of the enchanting lakes in the picturesque landscape of Sikkim. I was on a short tour few years back into the hills and Changu Lake was a member in my bucket list.
My tour started with a flight to Bagdogra and then a cab to reach Gangtok, the capital city of Sikkim. From Gangtok I hired a cab with a tourist guide and started off for Changu Lake. The drive till Changu Lake is almost 40 km from Gangtok. There is no accommodation in Changu hence I had to base my stay at Gangtok.
Changu Lake is located at an altitude of 12,400 feet encapsulated within the hauling rocky mountains. The spread of the lake is almost 1 km. The place is known for many myths of the local Buddhists and Hindus. There is also a certain belief about Holy Baba Harbhajan Singh who is worshipped dedicatedly by the Indian military force guarding the mountain borders.
My ultimate destination was to reach New Baba Mandir. The first stop was at the Kyongnosla Alpine Sanctuary, almost 30 km from Gangtok. Many adventurous trekkers go for exploring the surrounding of the sanctuary. I preferred a lazy hangout in the sanctuary watching the majestic view of the scenery around. The sanctuary is located at an altitude of 4000 meters. Its astonishing to watch the snow clad mountains. The reflection of the sun beams on the mountain tops and the flowing white clouds create a magical effect. I loved to watch the rhododendrons with their vibrant colours. I have a special crush for orchids and the sanctuary offered me with some rare species of orchids.
I had selected the month of May for the visit when the weather is comfortable and soothing. Many may like to visit in the winters to watch the ecstatic snow fall and the mountains fully clad with the fluffy snow. Engulfing myself within the lap of the stunning landscape, I continued on my journey. My next stop was at the Shiv Mandir, said to be the highest Shiva temple in the world. The place looks heavenly with the huge Shiva idol placed at the top of the temple and the gushing sound of the Nammangcho waterfall behind the temple.
My journey continued further along the Gangtok – Nathula Highway. Each and every moment, Mother Nature seemed to unfold its mystery of hidden treasures. When I reached the Changu Lake, I was greeted with the vibrant landscape full of poppies, irises, and rhododendrons. The oval-shaped lake looked spectacular at the backdrop of the mountains.
There were yaks roaming around. Its funny but quite amazing to watch the yaks decked up in colourful garments. The tinkling of the bells around their necks creates a musical swaying wave in the air. Just like many tourists I also took a short yak ride. Near the lake there is a small market selling jewelry, yak cheese, woolens made of yak wool, trinkets, local curios and souvenirs. Tourists and the locals were in abundance enjoying the yak rides and the shops. There are few eateries and cafeteria around where you can rest your hunger and quench your thirst.
I took a slow walk along the lakeside. The beauty seemed endless. It is said that the color of the lake waters changes with the seasons. During the winter the lake is fully frozen and white. The place is also inhabited by many migratory birds. A small bridge serves as the entrance to the lake. It leads to the point where you can view the entire lake and the mountains. I felt like spreading my imaginary wings and whizz over the lake like a bird. I let my eyes close and drifted my imagination into the magical world of beauty.
Calming myself into the panoramic view of the lake, I proceeded towards my journey to New Baba Mandir.