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Cholamu Lake
About Cholamu Lake

Tso Lhamo lake or Chho Lhamo or Cholamu lake or Cholamoo lake is the world’s 14th highest lake and India’s highest lake which is located at an elevation of 5,330 m (17,490 ft). Cholamu lake is India’s highest lake and world’s 14th Highest lake. Maximum depth of the lake is around 5.5 meters or 18.3 feet. Many people believe that Cholamu lake is the source of river Teesta , which is not completely true, actually river Teesta originates from a smaller glacial lake Khangchung (some 100 - 200 feet farther from Cholamu lake) . Cholamu lake is very near to Gurudongmar lake (45 Mins drive).

Cholamu or Tso-Lhamu lake is six km away from Gurudongmar lake at an elevation of 17400 ft. This could be termed as the main origin of the river Lachen Chhu, one of the two main tributaries of the Teesta. The stream from this lake joins the one coming out of the Gurudongmar Lake to form the Lachen Chhu. It is the highest lake in India. Just on the southern side of the Lake is the Dongkia La Pass which stands between the Cold Tso-Lhamu desert and the Yumthang Valley.

Lake Cholamu is situated in North Sikkim, India, only some 4 kilometres (2.5 mi) southwest of Chinese border. Chola Mu is a lake which lies on the plateau that extends into Sikkim into Tibet. From this moderately sized lake, the Teesta River takes birth as a trickle hardly a foot wide. The water in the lake flirts with ice before getting frozen in winter. The reflection of the surrounding mountains doubles the beauty of the Lake. Everything looks very prehistoric. A flock of birds, the cranes swims on the serene ice water of Chola Mu. These birds are migratory from Russia, China and other parts of India.


Since the lake is located just 5–6 km from Tibet border, is not easily reachable to common tourists. Only Indian tourists are allowed to visit the northern parts of Sikkim and that too is possible after obtaining necessary restricted area permit (RAP) from Sikkim police and Indian Army. However, In some exceptional cases foreign nationals also can get RAP. The best time to visit is during October - November.

Cholamu lake is just 5-6 kms away from the Tibet border , it is nearly off limits for commonplace tourists . One needs special permits, from Army and Sikkim police/administration to visit Cholamu lake. A normal tourist permit will only be issued to visit Cholamu Lake only when one has Army’s permit in place. Normally foreign nationals are not allowed to visit north most areas of Sikkim (this is unlike ladakh where both foreign nationals and Indians are allowed to visit tso Moriri Lake which shares its borders with China). Only Indians can get these special permits to visit two of the highest lakes in India that falls in this region, Cholamu Lake and Gurudongmar Lake.

Himalayan range is abode of many of world’s high elevation lakes, many of these high altitude glacial lakes fall in India. World’s 14th highest lake and India’s highest lake is Cholamu lake.A mighty altitude of 18000 feet from the sea level takes Cholamu lake to the top of the “highest lakes” list . While coming down the slope around 300 feet from Donkiala pass ( 18300 feet ) , one gets the first glimpses of this rather moderately sized , almost frozen lake.


This glacial, fresh-water lake is located northeast of the Kangchenjungarange in a high plateau area which is linked with the Tibetan Plateau.The Gurudongmar Lake lies some 5 km (3.1 mi) to the west. British botanists and explorers of the 19th century Joseph Dalton Hooker mentions cholamu lake in his “Himalayan Journals” about his 7th November 1849 survey of Lachen Valley.

How To Reach Cholamu lake

Best time to visit Cholamu lake is October and November, one can expect clear sky during this season of the year. After monsoon it is not worth to visit Cholamu lake,at that time most of the roads would be washed away with rains, and Border road organization (BRO) must be busy patching up the road as fast as they can during this time period.

The journey starts from Gangtok , state capital of Sikkim , one can reach Gangtok from NJP or Siligudi ,these are the nearest railway station . Nearest airport is Bagdogra (Siligudi).



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