Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Holy lake of North Sikkim mesmerises tourists

GURU-DONGMAR (North Sikkim): Now tourists can fulfill their wish to visit the sacred Guru-Dongmar Lake perched at a height of 17,600 ft in North Sikkim. The lake stands higher than the Mansarovar Lake in Tibet (17,000 ft). The bluish water of the crystal clear and calm lake mirrors the images of two peaks ~ Mt. Khanchenghao and Mt. Chomoyomo ~ believed to be the male and female guardian deity peaks of Sikkim. Like all things good, a trip to this wonderful spot would require some effort from the tourists. Climbing the craggy terrain and crossing Tibetan plateaus would be required to reach the sacred lake. Oxygen is at a premium at the spot and cold winds at times assume gale force blowing away chips of stones. The conditions turn bitter after 12 p.m and it is difficult to stay after noon.Narrating his experience after visiting the lake a tourist from Delhi, Mr Dipak Malhotra, said: “The place is mesmerising, calm and the scenic beauty is breathtaking.” He also said that both he and his wife were taken ill after reaching the spot due to lack of adequate oxygen.The hardship, however, is not to discourage the tourist, who are simply taken aback by the spot’s beauty. The lake is believed to have been touched by Guru Padmasambhawa (Guru Rinpoche) a Tibetan saint of the 8th century. Legend has it that the guru rested by the lake while returning from Sikkim to Tibet. It is also strange that even at that height, the center of the lake never freezes. That too is believed to be a miracle performed by Guru Rinpoche ensuring that the locals could draw water from the lake at all times.The place is restricted for foreign tourist as it is situated close to the China border. “To cover North Sikkim including Guru Dongmar Lake, the tour operators are offering a 5 day and four night package,” said Mr Karma Tsahi Bhutia, vice president of Travel Agents Association of Sikkim.People of Lachen are urging the state government to allow foreign tourists to visit the lake, and the matter is under the consideration of the Union home ministry.The best seasons to visit the holy lake are from March to June and from September to November“North Sikkim is developing as the best tourist destination of Sikkim,” claimed Mr Palzor Lachungpa an advisor to TAAS. He also added a word of advice. “Tourists are advised not to litter and make the place dirty because we worship the lake every year.”