Tsomgo Lake, Baba Mandir, Nathu La
Tsomgo Lake, popularly known as Changu Lake, is a glacial lake at an altitude of 12,310 feet. It offers a stunning view that remains a life-long memory.
Tsomgo is about 40-km from Gangtok on the road to Nathu La. It is oval in shape and is spread overa sprawling area of about 60.5 acres. The lake is 836 metreslong and has a maximum width of 427 metres. The maximum depth is 15 metres.
Tsomgois surrounded by steep mountains and reflects differentcolours with the change of seasons. It remains frozen in winter. During summer the snow cover melts and forms the source for the lake.
During a visit to Tsomgo, joy ride on decorated yaks and mules is a major tourist activity. There is a small Shiva temple on the bank of the lake where visitors offer prayers. It is essential for tourists visiting the area to obtain permits. You can leave the travails of getting a permit on Global Connection .
Travel another 10-km on the road to Nathu La, take a diversion to the right and you are at the famous Baba Mandir. The shrine was built by Indian Army in the honour of Captain Harbhajan Singh of 18 Rajput Regiment, who was martyred during a pitched skirmish with the Chinese troops at Nathu La in 1968.
Singh is revered by Indian Army soldiers and was accorded the status of a saint, with believers referringto him as the ‘Baba’ (saintly father). It is widely believed that Baba’s spirit protects every soldier in the inhospitable high-altitude terrain of the eastern Himalayas.
The shrine is located at the very spot where Baba’s mortal remains were found three days after he went missing. Built on the Tibetan architectural design, his military attire is preserved in the shrine. The Army has built a cafeteria at the site for the benefit of thousands of tourists who flock the place braving the chilly weather.
The last destination in the circuit is Nathu La ~ a mountain pass at 14,140 feet that connects Sikkim to Tibet. It is one of three trading points between India and China. An offshoot of the Old Silk Road, Nathu La is 54-km from Gangtok and 430-km from Lhasa, the capital of Tibet.
Nathu La played a vital role in the British expedition to Tibetto prevent Russia from interfering in Tibetan affairs. In 1904, Major Francis Younghusband, serving as the British Commissioner to Tibet, led a successful mission through Nathu La to capture Lhasa.
In the winter, the pass gets blocked by heavy snowfall.Summer temperature never exceeds 15 °C. Thearea is devoid of vegetation other than some scattered shrubs, and a chilly wind blows all the time.
Tourists visiting Sikkim make it a point to visit Nathu La mainly because of its historical significance and to catch a glimpse of the snow-clad mountains in Tibet. The attraction has multiplied by the fact that the Pass was sealed by India following the war with China in 1962 and was reopened after 44-years in 2006.
UnlikeTsomgo Lake and Baba Mandir, foreigners are not allowed to visit Nathu La. As regards Indians, Global Connection has been arranging the permits for over a decade now.