Shey Phoksundo Lake is located in Dolpa district of Nepal and is also known locally as Rigm Lake. The lake is located at an altitude of 3611.5 meters and is considered as the deepest lake in Nepal. Shey-Phoksundo is located in the clear, calm, and pure waters of the Kanjirowa Mountains. At a glance, tourists enjoy the waters of Shey-Phoksundo Lake, which sometimes looks dark blue and sometimes pale and green. Lake Shey-Phoksundo in Dolpa, Karnali has become a tourist destination in recent years. Despite being a remote district, the natural heritage of Dolpa has made everyone beautiful.
The lake is located around 3900 meters above sea level. This lake has pure Himalayan water and is located within Shey-Phoksundo National Park. The lake is 4.8 kilometers long and 1.6 kilometers broad, with a depth of 650 meters. It is a Y-shaped lake located in the foothills of the Kanjirowa Mountains. Suligand waterfall has emerged from Phoksundo Lake. The waterfall has increased the attractiveness of Shey-Phoksundo Lake to tourists. The water density in this lake is 40,90,000,000 cubic meters, and the water flow rate is 3.715 cubic meters per second. Phoksundo Lake was designated a Ramsar site in September 2007.
The lake has its own legend. In ancient times, Rinpoche was a powerful teacher in what is now Saldang (the center of Shey-Phoksundo village). The master Rinpoche saw a ghost in the guise of a woman, carrying a wooden vessel. Oil in one hand, water in the other. The master chased the ghost down. The ghost tried to spill water and oil at a place called Singthopra near Saldang. Without being able to pour water, the master chased the ghost away from there.
However, even before the arrival of Guru Rinpoche, the ghost poured water from a pot into the place where the lake was formed. There is a village on the lake site now, and the village is flooded by ghosts. They say that after the submergence of that settlement, the present settlement has become on the right side. On the right near Phoksundo is now the village of Ringmo, about 60-65 houses. The settlement including Ringmo is 900 years old.
There are 20 Buddhist stupas around the lake and a gompa on the east side in which Buddhists come here every year to offer prayers. There is Ringmo village near to this lake, which is highly influenced by Tibetan culture. Due to its proximity to Tibet, most of the people of Dolpa are Buddhists. The stupa and gompa built around the lake are full of unique creations of art and are considered to be original and unique. You can find century-old murals and statues inside the stupas. On the shores of Lake Phoksundo is the 15th-century Thasung Choling Monastery. According to the local Gese Lotoi Choglek (Chiring Lama), it is an important monastery for the followers of the Bon religion.
Shey-Phoksundo Lake is one of the scenic destinations in terms of natural beauty. But difficult mountainous terrain makes it difficult to travel on foot. Still, the happiness of this lake can be known only after reaching there. Although Shey-Phoksundo Lake Dolpa is beautiful, its biodiversity, natural beauty, and Buddhist caves are the center of attraction for tourists. After reaching Shey-Phoksundo Lake, the beautiful and charming Himalayan village and the culture of various tribes also become a source of further study for the tourists. You can also get the glimpse of the mountains from this lake such as Dhaulagiri, the seventh highest peak in the world, Sisne Himal, Api Himal, Saipal Himal, Kande Himachuli, and the mountainous scenery of Tibet.
Difficulties to get to Shey-Phoksundo Lake
It is not easy for tourists to reach Shey-Phoksundo. To reach Shey-Phoksundo at an altitude of 3,990 meters above sea level, one has to walk for two days from Dolpa headquarters Dunai. Dolpa has more than a dozen tourist attractions besides Shey-Phoksundo. But all those tourist sites are in the process of building infrastructure. Tourists have to travel on foot, horse, and mule as there is no road network.
After traveling to Shey-Phoksundo Lake, you have to cross 4 hills at an altitude of 5,500 meters. Some tourists have difficulty breathing due to lack of oxygen. So, it is better to take medicine while traveling. Upper Dolpa is home to the world’s largest snow leopard. While walking, you will find many wild animals along the way. It is considered good to travel in groups.
How to get there?
The journey starts from Nepalgunj to Juphal by plane, on foot. On the first day of the trek, it takes about four hours to reach Dolpa’s headquarters Dunai from Juphal Airport. On the second day, you will continue your journey from Dunai to Chhapka. On the third day, you will get to the waterfall from Chhapka. On the fourth day, the journey starts at Ringmo village near Phoksundo Lake from the waterfall. Finally, you will get a chance to enjoy the beauty of the lake. There are settlements, a few houses, and hotels for the tourists to spend the warm nights. Also, there is an army barracks near the lake to protect the lake and park.
-By: Kusum Kharel for Land Nepal