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10 Frozen Lakes To Visit for That Picture-Perfect Winter Vacation

Looking for offbeat winter destinations in India? Check out these frozen lakes that become even more beautiful when shrouded in ice and snow.

10 Frozen Lakes To Visit for That Picture-Perfect Winter Vacation

India is home to more than a lakh lakes, many of which undergo a magical transformation during winters. They turn into pristine white sheets of ice, offering a unique experience to visitors. So if you’re planning to embark on a journey to witness these frozen wonders, we’ve curated a list for an unforgettable winter adventure.

1. Cholamu Lake, Sikkim

Perched at an altitude of 18,000 feet above sea level, Cholamu Lake, also known as Tso Lhamo Lake, stands as one of the highest lakes in India. Located in North Sikkim, near the border with China (Tibet), this frozen beauty is a testament to nature’s grandeur.

Surrounded by breathtaking Himalayan landscapes, the high altitude and extreme weather conditions contribute to the lake’s characteristic freezing during the winter months.

Visitors must obtain special permission to access the area due to its proximity to international borders. And given the sub-zero temperatures experienced in the region, it is advisable to check the weather conditions before planning a trip here.

Cholamu Lake, also known as Tso Lhamo Lake is sitting at an altitude of 18,000 feet above sea level.
Cholamu Lake, also known as Tso Lhamo Lake is sitting at an altitude of 18,000 feet above sea level.

2. Tso Moriri Lake, Ladakh

Tso Moriri, also known as Lake Moriri or Mountain Lake, is a stunning high-altitude lake. Situated in the Changthang region of Ladakh at an elevation of approximately 15,075 feet above sea level, the lake boasts breathtaking surroundings with snow-capped peaks and barren landscapes.

The awe-inspiring landscape is enhanced by a chilly breeze and a pervasive sense of serenity in the air. Spanning about 19 kilometres in length and 3 to 5 kilometres in width, the lake offers a vast expanse of water set against the backdrop of the majestic Himalayas.

As a less frequented destination among tourists, Tso Moriri is likely to have fewer crowds, especially during the winter season.

Lake Moriri or Mountain Lake is located in the Changthang region of Ladakh.
Lake Moriri or Mountain Lake is located in the Changthang region of Ladakh.

3. Roopkund Lake, Uttarakhand

Perched at a height of approximately 16,499 feet above sea level, Roopkund Lake stands as a favourite destination for experienced trekking enthusiasts. Discovered by a forest ranger in 1942, the lake, at that time, was not frozen and revealed an intriguing sight — it was filled with human skeletons!

This discovery ignited interest among researchers, historians, and trekkers from various corners of the world. The origins of these skeletons remain a mystery, adding to the allure that continues to captivate trekkers. The most widely accepted theory, based on radiocarbon dating and other scientific methods, indicates that the skeletons date back to the ninth century and may be associated with a group of pilgrims or travellers who met their demise due to a sudden and severe hailstorm.

Often referred to as the Skeleton Lake, Roopkund may be relatively small, but it is set against a stunning backdrop, surrounded by snow-capped peaks and rocky terrain.

Also known as Skelton Lake, it attracts a lot of seasoned trekkers.
Also known as Skelton Lake, it attracts a lot of seasoned trekkers.

4. Changu Lake, Sikkim

Another enchanting lake and a popular tourist attraction in Sikkim is Changu Lake, also known as Tsomgo Lake. This glacial lake is situated in East Sikkim and remains frozen during the winter months, creating a picturesque scene against the backdrop of snow-covered landscapes.

Merely 40 km from Gangtok, the lake holds significant religious importance for the local people, marked by a small temple dedicated to Lord Shiva on its banks.

At an altitude of approximately 12,400 feet above sea level, Changu Lake offers more than just scenic beauty. Tourists can engage in activities such as yak rides and shop for local handicrafts and souvenirs near the lake. Lucky visitors might even catch a glimpse of a Himalayan black bear or a leopard in the surrounding area.

Tourists can engage in yak rides and shop for local handicrafts and souvenirs near the lake.
Tourists can engage in yak rides and shop for local handicrafts and souvenirs near the lake.

5. Manimahesh Lake, Himachal Pradesh

Nestled in the heart of Chamba district, Manimahesh Lake is another frozen gem, situated at an elevation of approximately 13,500 feet above sea level. This sacred lake holds deep religious significance for Hindus, is believed to be the divine abode of Lord Shiva, and is named after the peak Manimahesh.

Embraced by snow-capped peaks and rugged mountains, Manimahesh Lake is renowned for its breathtaking and serene landscapes. The 13-kilometre trek to the lake from the base camp at Hadsar takes visitors through lush green meadows, dense forests, and challenging terrains.

As winter sets in, bringing a drop in temperatures, the lake begins to freeze, and its surroundings are blanketed in snow. The transformed landscape becomes a captivating sight, drawing both tourists and devotees alike to witness the ethereal beauty of Manimahesh Lake during this season.

The lake is sacred to Hindus and it is believed to be the abode of Shiva.
The lake is sacred to Hindus and it is believed to be the abode of Shiva.

6. Dal Lake, Jammu and Kashmir

It would only be fair to mention this beauty when discussing frozen lakes. A widely popular tourist destination in Jammu and Kashmir, Dal Lake is a sight to behold in winter. The lake, with an average size of roughly 5 km in length and 1 km in width, is situated at an altitude of more than 5,000 feet.

During winter, Dal Lake can freeze, transforming the surroundings into a winter wonderland, providing a unique experience. The lake is also renowned for its houseboats and vibrant local life.

The Mughal gardens, including Shalimar Bagh and Nishat Bagh, add to the charm of Dal Lake with their well-manicured lawns, vibrant flowerbeds, and historic architecture.

7. Gurudongmar Lake, Sikkim

Another gem from the Northeastern states of India is Gurudongmar Lake, located near the border with China. It stands as one of the highest lakes in the world, situated at an altitude of approximately 17,800 feet above sea level.

Fed by glaciers, the lake serves as a source of streams for the Teesta River, which flows through Sikkim and West Bengal. Surrounded by snow-capped mountains, Gurudongmar Lake remains partially frozen throughout the winter.

The lake holds sacred significance for Hindus, Buddhists and Sikhs. Legend has it that Guru Nanak visited the lake and blessed its waters, believed to possess healing properties. Another legend that goes around is that Guru Padmasambhava, on several requests from the locals who faced an acute shortage of water, touched a part of the lake with his walking stick blessing it to never freeze. To this day, that part of the lake remains unfrozen in peak winters.

If you are fortunate, you might spot some wildlife, as the region around Gurudongmar Lake is known for its alpine meadows and is home to various species — including the Himalayan blue sheep, yaks, and various exotic birds.

8. Sela Lake, Arunachal Pradesh

Located at an altitude of more than 13,000 feet above sea level, Sela Lake is one of the lesser-known gems in Arunachal Pradesh. Situated near the Sela Pass, the lake takes its name from this mountain pass.

Both Sela Pass and Sela Lake are integral parts of the route leading to the town of Tawang, renowned for its monasteries, natural beauty, and cultural significance.

During the summer months, the lake transforms into a stunning beauty with pristine blue waters set against the backdrop of towering mountains. However, come winter, Sela Lake dons a white blanket, remaining frozen for the majority of the winter season.

Located 13,000 feet above sea level, Sela Lake is surrounded with snow-capped mountains.
Located 13,000 feet above sea level, Sela Lake is surrounded with snow-capped mountains.

9. Pangong Tso, Ladakh

Another well-known destination in Ladakh, Pangong Tso is the kind of natural beauty that makes you feel alive. The lake is at a high altitude, approximately 14,270 feet above sea level in the Eastern Ladakh region near the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China. The lake is known for its pristine blue waters that freeze during the winter giving a unique view of the landscape.

Pangong Tso is one of the highest saltwater lakes in the world. Its high altitude and the surrounding landscape contribute to the unique charm of the place. Make sure you pack warm clothes and keep an eye on restrictions, such as roadblocks due to heavy snowfalls, if you are planning a trip.

Pangong Tso is one of the highest saltwater lakes in the world
Pangong Tso is one of the highest saltwater lakes in the world.

10. Suraj Tal, Himachal Pradesh

Suraj Tal, which translates to ‘Lake of the Sun’, sits at an elevation of approximately 16,040 feet above sea level, making it one of the highest lakes in India.

Located in the Himalayan region, specifically in the Lahaul and Spiti districts of Himachal Pradesh, the lake is situated on the Manali-Leh Highway, providing accessibility to travellers along this route.

Fed by the glaciers of the Baralacha La pass, Suraj Tal holds sacred significance for the locals. It is believed that taking a dip in its waters can cleanse one of their sins. The lake is also a frequented destination for trekkers and adventure enthusiasts as part of their journey along the Manali-Leh Highway.

Locals believe that taking a dip in its waters can cleanse one of their sins.
Locals believe that taking a dip in its waters can cleanse one of their sins.

(Edited by Pranita Bhat)

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