Nature has blessed India with some of the most incredible beauties that human eyes can behold. True, there’s no Alpine retreat like the ones found in European countries but yes, there are other wonders. In this list of 5 high altitude and beautiful Indian lakes, we will try to find out just that. As the title already suggests, we will take a quick look at 5 of the most beautiful lakes in India that are located at high altitude. Now, this begs a question. What really do we mean when we say, ‘high altitude’? For the purpose of this article and the articles that follow, we will give a quick definition as per the bars we have set. Remember, this definition of high, medium and low altitude is our creation and has nothing to do with what rest of the world says. We have created this for the purpose of segregation.
- High Altitude: Minimum 10,000 feet and beyond.
- Medium Altitude: Minimum 5,000 feet and maximum 9,999 feet.
- Low Altitude: Minimum 500 feet and maximum 4,999 feet.
Based on the aforementioned segregation criteria, we will look at 5 beautiful Indian lakes that are located at a minimum altitude of 10,000 feet above sea level. Yes sir! That’s quite some height and in case you are acrophobic, it is better not to visit those lakes.
For those who are driven by adrenalin rush, these lakes offer some of the most breathtaking views and pristine environments that human heart can crave. So, let’s not wait any further and start with our list…
1: Beautiful Indian Lakes: Cholamu Lake, Sikkim
Touted as India’s highest lake, The Cholamu Lake in Sikkim is one of the most beautiful lakes that Mother Nature has to offer us. Sitting at a dizzying height of 17,490 feet, this lake is also among the highest lakes in whole world. The pristine blue waters of this small glacial lake surrounded by towering snow-clad peaks of the Himalayas, Cholamu Lake is nothing short of surreal.
To be honest, pictures of the lake doesn’t do enough justice to the actual beauty this lake beholds. Being one of the lesser explored lakes nestled in the rocky outgrowths of the Himalayas, this lake is for nature lovers who aren’t shy of a bit of trekking. Direct transport is available but trekking is always fun. Being close to Indo-Tibet border, a quick visit to this lake requires a permit.
One can very well imagine the chills that can be encountered at such heights but luckily, some warmer bouts are also available during the months of May, June and October, making those months the best times to visit the lake. A pleasant, warm and clear weather gives way to the glittering blue waters of the sun-kissed lake that waits patiently for visitors.
Oh! Did we mention that the famous Teesta River calls this lake as its source? By the way, this breathtakingly beautiful lake also goes by the names Chho Lhamo lake, Tso Lhamo lake and Cholamoo Lake.
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2. Beautiful Indian Lakes: Gurudongmar Lake, Sikkim
Touted as second-highest lake in Sikkim and in India, this lake is a pure gem. Also counted as one of world’s highest lakes, the Gurudongmar Lake sits at a whopping height of 17,004 feet above sea level. The crystal blue waters of the lake draped with tiny waves mirror the majestic snow covered mountain peaks that guard the lake like silent sentinels from all sides. This lake gets its name from Guru Padmasambhava, who is also known by the name Guru Dongmar.
What makes this lake so unique is that even during the harshest of winters when everything around gets frozen to ice, the water in this lake defies every known logic and retains its fluid form. Yes sir! You guessed it right. This lake does have a religious significance. Important to both Sikhs and Buddhists, the water of the lake is known to have healing properties. Dare not to dip your feet into this lake for that is a sin and is completely prohibited.
While the lake’s beauty cannot be described by best know dictionaries in world, there is more that the Gurudongmar Lake has to offer. It offers panoramic views of Kanchendzonga and Mount Siniolchu and only 9 kilometers from the lake, one can reach the Cholamu Lake. Just around is the Sarva Dharma Sthala or Temple of All Religions that attract every tourist irrespective of his or her religious faith.
For those who can battle the winters and resist the cold, November to January may be the best time to visit. However, proper equipment is suggested to prevent being bitten by cold. For those who love a pleasant sunny atmosphere, April to June gives the best window.
Did we mention that an inner line permit is necessary to visit this lake? It is close to Into-Tibetan border and has an important military significance. You get it, right?
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3. Beautiful Indian Lakes: Tso Moriri Lake, Ladakh
Tso Moriri lake is one of the lesser-known lakes in Ladakh. It is known for its unique beauty that remains unparalleled. Somehow, the lake hasn’t received as much popularity as its sister – the Pangong Lake. This however, creates a great opportunity to hog on natural beauty without the chaotic crowd. Thus, Tso Moriri is perfect for those who love to trod among the unscathed beauty of nature and feel the tranquility that transcends into the souls. Nestled at a height of 14,836 feet above sea level, the lake is in Changthang Plateau’s Ladakhi part. The Tso Moriri Wetland Conservation Reserve protects the lake and its surrounding areas.
Tucked entirely within Ladakh, India, the lake boasts boasts a rich wildlife, especially birds. Brahmin duck, bare-headed goose, brown-headed gull, great-crested grebe are some of the birds that can be found here. This wetland reserve is also home to Himalayan hares that are pretty abundant in this location. Surrounded by barren hills and snow-draped mountain ranges beyond, this lake is a remnant lake, which means, once, it was really massive but as of today, it is only 28 kilometers long.
The best time to visit the lake is between May and August as the lake remains completely frozen between January and March. In April however, the snow sheet starts melting, gradually revealing multiple shades of blue colors gradually.
Did we mention that you will actually be allowed to tent by the lake for a night stay but, you need to carry your food because there’s no food culture near the lake side. If camping doesn’t thrill you, consider living in the Korzok village amidst the friendly people who are really, really good at hospitality.
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4. Beautiful Indian Lakes: Pangong Lake, Ladakh
The crowned Jewel of Leh-Ladakh, Pangong Lake is a wonder to behold. It can be truly described as a chameleon that changes color – literally! From azure blue to light blue to green and even gray – the colors of the lake play a mind game that cannot be described by words. The lake has a length of 12 kilometers but unfortunately, only 25% of the lake is inside Indian territory while the remaining 75% is in Tibet, which has been forcefully annexed by Imperialist China. Sitting at a height of 14,270 feet, this lake is a place for lovers of serene Nature. However, it has started attracting more tourists recently and the likelihood of getting a crowd is pretty high during the summers, especially between June and September.
For those who can overpower winters, the Pangong Lake offers snowy extravaganza and nature’s own kaleidoscope. One one side, the sands dominate, sitting in stark contrast to the shimmering white snows on the other side. That’s some beauty to behold. And the lake itself turns frozen turquoise, allowing you to walk right over it.
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5. Beautiful Indian Lakes: Changu Lake, Sikkim
12,313 feet above sea level, Changu lake in Sikkim is yet another treasure that the Himalayas offer us. Though popularly known by the name Changu Lake, don’t be surprised if you hear another name – Tsomgo Lake. This stunningly beautiful glacial lake has special significance among the Sikkimese people, especially among faith healers.
This masterpiece of Nature has something or the other to offer in almost every season. For those who love to gaze at the shimmering snows kisses by gentle rays of winter sun, January to March is the best time to visit. Shrouded in mist and sprinkled with powdery snow, the lake and its surrounding mountains get just the right amount of sunlight to create a surreal atmosphere. During April to May season, the beauty of the lake gets tangled with the blooms of Orchid and Rhododendrons, making it a paradise on its own. Between October and December, it is just calm and pleasant with a breathtaking panoramic view of the mighty rocks towering on every side.
Did we mention that the locals there are some of the most friendly you can meet in Sikkim? Ask for traditional attire and one pops up instantly. Dress up and ride a yak and then treat yourself with some hot food that kind of becomes chilled by the time you put it in your mouth. Oh yes, don’t go for a bargain for that may just make the locals repulsive towards you.