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12 Beautiful Himalayan Lakes

Gokyo Lake

12 Beautiful Himalayan Lakes.

Most regular hikers who go hiking around the various mountain ranges know that glacial lakes are part and parcel of the ecosystem. Likewise, the experienced trekkers know some of the most beautiful lakes in the world’s highest mountain chain – The Himalayas. However, many trekkers feel their trip is incomplete when they miss the journey to a Himalayan lake. Here is a list of twelve of the highest, most extensive, and most stunning mountain lakes in the Himalayas.

1. Rara Lake, Nepal

Rara Lake

Rara lake, at 3060 m, is located in the Mugu District of Far Western Nepal. Rara is the largest and deepest Lake in Nepal. It sits in a valley surrounded by lush forests and stunning mountain vistas. It is so beautiful that being around this surround is hypnotizing. The temperate forests and the alpine pastures that enclose the valley cover the whole area. Thus, trekking around the Rara Lake region is an excellent combination of a pristine lake, mountain vistas, and Himalayan flora and fauna.

2. Gurudongmar Lake, India

Gurudongmar Lake, Sikkim

Gurudongmar Lake, at the height of 5430 m, is amongst the highest lakes in the world, while it is the second-highest lake in Sikkim and India. The second highest lake in India is a sight to behold with the picturesque beauty of the surrounding. The views of Mount Siniolchu and Kanchenjunga are icing on the cake. The surrounding snow-clad mountains and the clear icy water are considered sacred lakes.

Gurudongmar lake is about an eight to nine hours drive from Gangtok. First, one has to go through Lachen, a small town in North Sikkim. Most travellers stop at Lachen for the night to help acclimate and break the journey. The closest village to the Lake is Thangu at 4270 m. One needs to attain an inner line permit to visit this lake because of its proximity to the Indo-Tibet border.

Legend has it that Guru Padmasambhava touched and blessed the lake, and it is widely believed that a small part of the lake never freezes, even during the extreme winter temperatures at such an altitude. This lake is one of the Teesta river’s primary sources, flowing from Sikkim, West Bengal, and Bangladesh to the Bay of Bengal. It is widely believed that this lake’s water has healing properties; many visitors bring water from this lake back to their homes.

3. Gosainkunda Lake, Nepal

Gosainkunda Lake, Nepal

Gosaikunda Lake, at 4,380m, is located in the Rasuwa district and is one of the famous pilgrimage sites for Hindus. This freshwater lake is part of a popular trekking route in the Langtang region, north of Kathmandu. It is believed that this region has 108 lakes of various sizes. However, I once met an elderly local who told me he could only count 18 despite spending a few weeks wandering around the area.

Hindu mythology considers the Gosainkunda area as the abode of Hindu Deities, Lord Shiva, and Goddess Gauri. Hence, Gosainkunda is called Samudramanthan in the Hindu scriptures and epics such as Bhagavata Purana, Vishnu Puran, Ramayana, and Mahabharata. Janai Purnima is one Hindu festival where thousands of pilgrims from India and Nepal throng this lake.

4. Shey Pokshundo Lake, Nepal

Phoksundo Lake, Nepal

Situated at an altitude of 3,611 m, Shey Phoksundo Lake is the second deepest lake in Nepal. This glacial lake is located in Lower Dolpo, one of the most remote and isolated high valleys in the Trans Himalaya. This lake is considered sacred by the residents. Although some say swimming is prohibited, the locals take a bath in this lake. The village of Ringmo sits on the southern edge of the “dam caused by a landslide some 30,000 to 40,000 years ago.

About 20 Chortens (Stupas) are on the south side of the lake, leading to an ancient Bon (religion preceding Buddhism) monastery. Just a short distance from the lake’s southern exit is the impressive Siligad Waterfall at 167 m. Eric Valli’sValli’s movie “Caravan or “Himalaya” introduced Shey Phoksundo lake and Dolpo to the world. 

5. Tilicho Lake, Nepal

Tilicho Lake, Nepal.

Tilicho Lake (4,949m) is one of the highest lakes in Nepal. It is situated on the north side of the Annapurna range bordering with Manang and Mustang districts. It is considered a sacred lake and featured in one Hindu epic – Ramayana. A visit to Tilicho lake can be combined with the Annapurna Circuit Trek. The panorama from the valley’s edge can be second to none on clear days. Views of Annapurna II, III, IV, Ganga Purna, Himalchuli, Manaslu, Himlung, and Chulu West can be breathtaking.

6. Gokyo Lakes, Nepal

Gokyo Lake, Nepal.

The Gokyo lakes are six Lakes at the foothills of the Mahalangur range in the Everest Region. Dudh Pokhari, also called Gokyo Lake, is most frequented by trekkers. It is on the less frequented trail away from the main path to the Everest Base Camp trek. These lakes are situated between 4700 to 5000 meters above sea level. 

These lakes are the world’s highest freshwater lake system comprising six leading lakes, of which Thonak Tsho is the largest. The Gokyo and associated wetlands were designated a Ramsar Site.

7. Namtso Lake, Tibet

Namtso Lake, Tibet.

Namtso Lake is one of the most beautiful natural sites in Tibet.  

Namtso is one of the most beautiful natural sights in Tibet. It is said that it is the largest high-altitude brackish lake in Tibet, with 4718 m. Namtso is one of the three sacred lakes of Tibet. The crystal clear water, the surrounding snow-capped peaks, and yak herds of locals make it a charming picture-perfect spot. The sunrise and sunset at the lake can be breathtakingly gorgeous. Witness the magic when the sky turns golden and red at dusk. If you can take the cold at night, stare away at the millions of stars in the sky.

8. Mansarovar Lake, Tibet

Manasarovar Lake, Tibet.

Lake Manasarovar, situated approximately 30km from Mt. Kailash, is one of the world’s highest freshwater lakes. The sacred lake is an important pilgrimage site for Buddhists and Hindus. It is believed that bathing in the holy water of Manasarovar cleanses one’s sins. This vast lake with the mirror-like image of snow-capped mountains in its crystal clear waters is fabulous. Mansarovar has an exceptional colour combination that varies from crystal clear blue water near the shores to deep emerald green at the centre. There are a few monasteries on the coast of the lake, as well.

This stunning lake of one of the most important pilgrimages for Bons, Hindus, Buddhists, and Jains alike. The turquoise colour of the lake is the reflection of the blue sky. The reflection of the sky, clouds, and Himalayan peaks can be mesmerizing. Lake Manasarovar lies at 4,590 m above sea level. It is a relatively high elevation for a large freshwater lake on the primarily brackish lake-studded Tibetan Plateau.

This lake is relatively round, with a circumference of 88 km. The maximum depth reaches about 90 m, and the surface is 320 km@. The natural Ganga chu channel connects the nearby Rakshastal. Manasarovar is close to the source of the Sutlej River. It is the easternmost large tributary of the Indus. The origins of the Brahmaputra and the Karnali rivers are close. All of these are principal tributaries of the Ganges.

9. Pangong Tso, India & Tibet

Pangong Tsho, Ladakh, India.

This gorgeous body of water spreads from India to Tibet in the Himalayas. It is 134 km long at 4350 m in altitude and extends from India to China. 

Roughly 60 % of the lake lies in China. This lake is 5 km wide at its broadest and covers 604 km2. Despite being a brackish lake, it freezes completely during winter.

10. Yamdrok Tso, Tibet

Yamdrok Tsho, Tibet.

Yamdrok Lake lies between the town of Gyantse and the Tibetan capital Lhasa. It stretches for 72 km and is surrounded by breathtaking terrain. The Dalai Lama and the locals make the pilgrimage to Yamdrok due to its spiritual powers. The lake’slake’s religious importance is associated with the 

Lying between Lhasa and town Gyantse, the freshwater lake is one of the sacred lakes. It stretches for 72 km (45 mi). It is one of the three holy lakes of Tibet; Yamdrok looks stunning amidst the Himalayan peaks.

 It is the most wide-ranging habitat for migratory birds in Southern Tibet. It looks spectacular when thousands of birds fly above the lake! 

11 Tsomoriri Lake

Tsomoriri Lake, Ladakh, India

In Changthang Plateau, situated in southeast Ladakh, Tso Moriri or Lake Moriri is known for its scenic splendour. It is a high-altitude lake officially named the Tso-Moriri Wetland Conservation Reserve area at an altitude of 4595 m. The lake is about 28km in length from north to south and between 4-6 km in width with an average depth of 30 meters. The deepest part of the lake is 75 meters. It is surrounded by barren hills and a backdrop of snow-clad mountains. The lake is mind-boggling, calm, and sacred for the Ladakhis. It is slightly higher than Pangong Tse, and the water is a lot less salty, which helps support more birdlife. The turquoise lake has no outlet, making its water salty, although it is not very detectable. Tso moriri was once a favourite source of salt. Tso-Moriri is located on the continuous Tibetan plateau’s Changtang region, also known as Rupshu. The Rupshu valley lies southeast of Ladakh on the Manali to Leh highway at an average altitude of 5000 meters. The Changpa nomads inhabit this beautiful valley. The Rupshu area is rich in wildlife, including Kiang-Will Ass, black-necked cranes, and bar-headed geese. The wetlands are excellent breeding grounds for migratory birds during the summer season.

12 Tsokar Lake

Tsokar Lake, Ladakh, India.

Tsokar means ”White Lake” because the salt deposits can be seen all over the lake’s fringes. Tso-Kar is the smallest of the three crucial lakes in Ladakh. This lake is also situated in the Rupshu Valley, about 250 km from Leh, Ladakh’s central town. The altitude of Tsokar is 4660 meters and is about 50 km from Tso-Moriri lake in southeast Ladakh.

The Rupshu / Changtang region is popular with bird watchers. The area surrounding this lake is abundant in birds and wildlife. The lake is surrounded by marshland that is home to fantastic birdlife during summer. Some of the beautiful birdlife seen here are Brahmini ducks, bar-headed geese, great crested grebe, terns, and black-necked cranes, to name a few. The critically endangered black-necked cranes are one of the main attractions amongst the birdlife in the Changtang region. It is majestic when on the ground and in flight.

The Tsokar area is also famous for wildlife enthusiasts. The easiest to spot wildlife are the Kiangs, and they are the largest wild asses. In addition, the surrounding mountains are home to the Ibex, red foxes, blue sheep, marmots, and snow leopards.

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