In my years of traveling, I have seen my fair share of high altitude lakes, but none as unique as Sangetsar. Perched high atop the Himalayas, at 12000 feet, it is a lake wedged between two mountains. What makes it unique though is that there are trees jutting out from the water. And in winter, when the lake is frozen, it acquires a beauty of its own.
The locals call it Shonga-tser Lake, while the tourism world has bestowed it the name “Madhuri Lake”. Why? Because the lake shares screen space with Madhuri Dixit in a song from the Bollywood movie Koyla.
Sangetsar is around 40 kms from Tawang and takes a good 2 hours to reach. You need a special permit to enter this region, which of course any travel operator in Tawang can arrange for you. And only Indian nationals are allowed here.
Note: There are two permits needed for this region. One is the ILP (Inner Line Permit) to enter Tawang. The second one is the special permit to travel from Tawang to Sangetsar Lake and Bum La pass (The Indo – China border).
The road to Sangetsar is a visual treat in itself. You are driving around snow-capped peaks and fluffy clouds are within touching distance. And everything around you is covered in snow. You will spot many frozen lakes enroute, including the famed PT Tso Lake. The journey I would say, is every bit as beautiful as the destination.
When viewed from the top, Sangetsar looks like a sheet of white pockmarked by needles. The descent towards the lake is a bit bumpy, and why wouldn’t it be, it’s a narrow gravel road, with 52 hairpin turns, as per dangerous roads.
The lake was apparently formed by an earthquake which swept away the entire landscape. The resulting tectonic shift moved this piece of land to a pine forest nearby and the entire forest got submerged except the tops of tree trunks which are visible even today. The brutality of its formation is perhaps only redeemed by its magnificence.
There is a well paved walkway created around the lake and if you have acclimatized well to the high altitude, you should definitely take a walk on it. It gives you a 360 degree tour of the lake. I wasn’t aware of this when I went there, so I missed it, but hopefully, you won’t.
The army runs a café by the lakeside. It has a huge window with stunning views of the lake. You can just sit here and stare at the lake for hours. Of course while munching on maggi, some delicious momos and steaming cups of tea.
So if you are one of those people who loves traveling to remote places in search of heavenly views, then Sangetsar lake should definitely be on your bucket list.
Best time to visit: The best times to visit are October- November and March to May. This is the time when the cold subsides a bit. You still have to wear several layers, but it’s still manageable.