Buddhist Holy Lake -Gurudongmar Lake
|Location||North Sikkim, Sikkim, India|
|Surface elevation||17,150 ft (5,230 m)|
|Settlements||Mangan, North Sikkim 56 km. About 200km from Lachen.|
Gurudongmar Lake or Gurudogmar Lake is one of the highest lakes in the world, located at an altitude of 17,100 ft (5,210 m). It lies in the district of North Sikkim in the state of Sikkim in India, only some 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) south of Chinese border. The lake can be reached by road from Lachen via Thangu.
This fresh-water lake is located northeast of the Kangchenjunga range in a high plateau area connected with the Tibetan Plateau. Gurudongmar lake provides one of the source streams of the Teesta River. The source of Teesta, the Tso Lhamo Lake, lies some 5 km (3.1 mi) to the east. One can seek permission from the army to trek from Gurudongmar Lake to Tso Lhsmo Lake.The lake remains completely frozen in the winter months from November to Mid-May.
This wonderful Gurudongmaar lake is of great religious significance to the people of this erstwhile Buddhist Kingdom of Sikkim. It is located in the North District of Sikkim - closer to the Indo-China International Border. Gurudongmaar located in this state at a distance of Approximately 150 km from the capital Gangtok, at an elevation of 18,000 feet alongside a glacial peak known by the same name. The lake remains frozen most of the year due to heavy snowfall for almost six months each year.The patron of Sikkim Guru Rinpoche/Padmasambhava is believed to have performed miracles in this lake . Guru Rinpoche made his first visit to present Guru Dongmar Lake in North Sikkim to test an omen in the Lake. After finding a favourable sign in the lake, he miraculously landed on Tashidhing hill in west Sikkim, along with his 25 disciples and thereby sanctified entire landscape while marking this hill as a navel point of the sacred land- ‘De-jong’. Thereafter, the Guru explored the entire parts of De-jong blessing and sanctifying caves, rock, lakes, streams and left his foot prints on the rocks.This event of Guru Rinpoche visiting the lake is a prominent in the history of this beautiful state of Sikkim . It upholds the fact that the land was blessed by Guru Rinpoche and so the land is truely termed as a hidden paradise in the foothills of the Himalayas. About 1372 A.D, one treasure revealer lama called Rigdzin Goedem visited this land, revealed many treasure-texts for restoring Gurus precious teachings and also wrote about the location of the Sacred places, which had been useful to the lamas of later eras. In1642 A.D, arrived three Noble Saints from Tibet who were known as (i) Gyalwa Lhatsun Chenpo, (ii) Ngadag Sempa Rigzin Phuntshog and (iii) Kathog Kuntu Zangpo. They entered this sacred land from north, south and western gates as a religious way of opening a sacred land in order to carry out their holy mission to introduce Buddhism. The three Lamas first assembled at a place called NORBU GANG in western Sikkim which was later called “Yuksam” by the then living Lepchas. The lamas, acting in anticipation of Lord Guru’s prophecy, sent a search party towards the east direction to find the fourth person destined to be the Chogyal or Dharma king of this land. The party wandering through the stiff hills and valleys reached finally at present Gangtok and found the man called “Phuntshog” as mentioned in the prophecy text. They first conveyed to Phuntshog the message sent by the Noble Saints. Shortly afterwards, Phuntshog left for Yuksam with his family and attendants. The Three Lamas welcomed him and accordingly consecrated “Phuntshog” as Chogyal of Demo-jong in Water-Horse year which corresponds to 1642 A.D. Four of them were known in the history as “rNal-hByor-mChed-bZhi” or Four Yogi Brothers”. The stone thrones of the four Yogi Brothers are still stand at Norbugang at Yuksam as a milestone in the history of Sikkim. In the same year, the three lamas built a stupa at Norbugang incorporating rocks and soils collected from all parts of Sikkim to mark this important event and called it “TASHI-HODBAR CHHOEDTEN”. This Chodten may be a first Buddhist Stupa ever built in Sikkim. With the blessing of those three pioneer lamas Six premiers monasteries were founded i.e. Pemayangtse (West),Tashiding(West), Phensang (North), Ralong (South), Rumtek (East) and Phodang (North). In course of time, many other sub monasteries and religious monuments were built by the lamas and Devotees. Today images/idols of Guru Padmasambhava are found enshrined in each and every monastery in Sikkim as main worshipping objects by the lamas. Especially on tenth day of every Tibetan month Guru Tsechu puja is performed to mark his birth anniversary as well as to pray for peace & prosperity of this land.
There are also some beliefs among some Sikh population of India that the lake was once visited by their first Sikh Leader " Guru Naanak Ji " . As per their belief , there seem to have been encounters between Tibetan monks and Naanak ji .As per the official record, the Army Sikh regiment deployed at the Indo-China border in North Sikkim constructed a structure called- ‘Dharmasthal’ about the year 1997-98 on the lake shore as a shrine of Guru Nanak as they mistook Guru Padmasambhava to be Guru Nanak a celebrated Saint of the Sikh Faith. This illegal development angered the local Buddhist devotees visiting the site. On constant complaint of the local residents, the government of Sikkim initially constituted a high level Committee for submitting a report about the status of the Lake. In the light of a written document furnished by Namgyal Institute of Tibetology, Gangtok the Committee submits a report establishing a fact that it was undisputedly a Buddhist Place of Worship and nothing to contradict by Sikh Faiths. Following which the matter was settled amicably between Army personnel and people’s representative of Lachen Monastery followed by handing and taking over on 6th July 2001 in presence of the Government representatives including Sub Divisional Magistrate, Chungthang, North Sikkim.
Guru Dongmar Lake is named after the visit of Guru Padma Sambhava in 8th century A.D, who was a founder of Tibetan Buddhism. This Lake is included in 109 Tshochen or major Lakes of Sikkim as per ‘Nay-sol-Text’. Guru Padmasambhava is popularly known in Sikkim as “Guru Rinpoche”. Padmasambhava first came to Guru Dongmar Lake as the word- ‘Dongmar Shap Chakpa’ refers to his first visit to this place. There, he examined an omen in the lake and found auspicious to enter into the heartland of Demojong (Sikkim). Guru recognized this Lake as a part of the places of worship of famous Dorje Nyima or Chhoedten Nyima holy place situated northern border of Sikkim. This lake is a landmark of northern door to enter into the Hidden Land of Demojong. This historical fact was confirmed based on the write up given by late Lachen Gomchen Rinpoche, who was spiritual Head of the Lachen Monastery, North Sikkim. According to Rinpoche, this lake has been clear like sky with almost visible basin since the last 40years. The Rinpoche further said that it grants boon to any expecting woman. Later, the colour of the lake gradually became whitish due to defilement by human interference. The Lake appears smaller from the place where devotees offer prayer but takes two hours to circumambulate it since its upper portion which is quite wide is hidden behind the hill.
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