Menmecho Lake is a mountain lake located in East Sikkim district in the state of Sikkim, India. It lies on the way to the Jelepla Pass and is situated at a distance of 20 kilometers (12 mi) ahead of the Lake Tsomgo. It is the source of the river Rangpo-Chu, a tributary of the Teesta River. A lake just at the heart of Sikkim. Uncountable steep hilly slopes, just in between them on the side of the road full of dust, suddenly one will get the see a board glowing with the name of Colonel Francis Edward Younghatchband. It all started sometimes 112 years back, the region is full of danger everywhere and there are steep hilly slopes. Colonel overcame these hilly terrains and reached Tibet from India to spread the British culture. Before the Tibetan traders or merchants used to visit India to spread their business on the back of the horses using this route. They used to enter Sikkim, the state of the Chogial Emperors via Jelepla Pass. From there via Pedong they used to visit Kalimpong to sell their products in the famous market in that region. But in this journey the Tibetan traders make a night halt at Gnathang Valley (a village in the eastern part of Sikkim). Today these routes are famously known as Silk Route journey, a complete package of east Sikkim. Here you will find two temples of Baba Harbajan Singh. One is known as the Old Baba Mandir and another is known by new Baba Mandir, but before that one need to pass by the famous Kupup Lake or the Elephanta Lake. After one pass through these two temples you will get to see a market, especially where buying and selling Chinese good are done for the tourists. From there a little further is the Nathula Pass. From the end October or starting November snowfall starts in this part of Upper Himalayas and from then by the next 7 to 10 days the area get completely covered with snow. Everywhere you will get to see snow capped mountains. From then till 3 to 4 months becomes difficult as cars cannot get to the top for the snow. The mountain streams meet the lake skirting through a sandy beach surrounded by pine forests inhabited by Ghorals and Himalayan Bears. Here you will only find army; those are guarding the border of India and China. The temperature here falls to -3 degrees to minimum of about -10 degree centigrade. From these part (Gnathang Valley) an outstanding view point for sunrise and Mt. Kanchenjunga is closely visible. From there you can visit to the famous and very well known lake named Memencho Lake. On normal permit from Gangtok or from Gnathang Valley or Zuluk on a day trip, tourists can visit these places like Gnathang Valley, Kupup Lake, Elephanta Lake. But to visit the Memencho Lake a special permit is required from the Sikkim Govt. Memencho Lake is at an altitude of about 13000 ft, from there emerged another river named Rongpo-Chu. Earlier the lake was known as Menmoi-Sho, but in the later days the name developed and became Memencho. This lake and the streams never get dried up as because it gets all its source of water from the melting snow of the peaks. This region gets completely covered up with snow in the month of December to March. As soon as the ice gets melted, the breeding of Trout fish gets started in this area. The best quality and biggest quantity of Trout fish is generated from Memencho Lake on all over Sikkim. The best time to visit this place is in the month of May and June. After crossing the board of the Younghatchband’s Tibet expedition you will reach to a market, with only 5-6 local shops. From there to a little further, just at the left hand side of the road at about a distance of about 1000 ft. to the downward side you will get to see the first glimpse of Memencho Lake. The shape of the lake is to some extent a half circle with crystal clear water (blue colour) and all sides are covered thick forest of blackish green or dark green colour, but as you reach near the lake, you will find these green colour are of the long never ending stretches of thick Pine forests. As you reach Old Babamandir, you will get to see many tourists assembled at a place, those who have come down from Gangtok.
From Old Babamandir just take the left hand side of the road. The route is full of boulders, though availability of cars are less in this area, on the left hand side of the road there is a waterfall which is clearly visible. There are many waterfalls that have adjoined with the lake. On the right hand side of the hills there are aged old forests that are protected with log of woods. As you will head towards the lake, the cold weather slowly becomes habituated. It will seem that slowly and gradually you are stepping in the underground. Though this area is of higher altitude, but after spending one night the demand of oxygen becomes normal. By nature’s own beauty, this place resembles with the Trans Himalayan region “Spiti”. From New Babamandir, the entry to the lake is about 4 kilometer. The last 1 kilometer is very easy. Parking space is there for the tourist to park the cars. From the parking area while heading towards the lake, there is a heritage bungalow, the locals says that the bungalow was once used to be a property of Sikkim’s Chogial Emperor, but now it is a heritage property maintained by the Sikkim Govt. Just a little further there is another white coloured bungalow, where the tourists can make a night halt, but only after getting the permission from the Sikkim Govt. From the bungalow, a road has gone straight to a very large area like a hilltop. On one side, there is a small stream that flows continuously and above the stream there is a large bridge. After crossing the bridge the road has adjoined to the forest area. As the road is plain land area, that is why a part of the lake is visible from here. In the winter the forest becomes golden yellow and orange in colour all over, but as the winter season passes away it again becomes green. At the very far end on the hilly terrains, the rich greenness of Pines along with other long trees is seen. At the top of the head the clear blue sky is also visible. On the banks of the lake there is a small temple, the roof of which is made up of tin and the area is decorated with numerous colourful flags. A walk of about 10 minutes through the forest of Juniper will take you near the lake. The colour of the water of the lake is green at some place (where there is lesser amount of water available and it is shallow) and in some place where the water is deep the colour is dark blue. This dark blue colour is of the blue sky above and the green colour is of the long trees that surrounds the lake. On one side there are concrete roads, on another side there is a bridge that connects the two end of the lake. Just beside the temple there are few iron chairs where the tourists can sit and enjoy the beauty of the lake. At the front on the hilly terrains there are few bungalows and cottages are made, those are the check-post of Nathula border. Sometimes clouds are flowing, which are clearly visible on the clear water of the lake. As the sky changes the colour, the colour of the lake also changes. As the sun changes its position from east to west, the colour of the lake also changes.
Best time to visit: Though you can visit here throughout the year, but it is recommended not to travel in this area in the monsoon. May- June and October can be the best time to visit. The rest of the year the area remains covered with snow.
How to Reach: From Kolkata or Howrah, several trains are available that halts at NJP station. From there you can hire a jeep for your journey to Silk Route. Or, you can also visit from Gangtok. From the respective places car arrangements are available that will take you to visit Memencho Lake.
Permit: From Rongli S.D.P.O office you will get the permit for Silk Route (Zuluk). One need to present valid id proof to get the permit like Voter Id card, driving license or passport along with 2 copies of passport sized photographs. Before Addhar car was not accepted, but now a days it is also allowed. But it is also recommended to carry more than one Govt. id proof along with the photocopy of those. To visit the Memencho Lake permission is need from the Sikkim Govt. it is arranged by the respective homestays where you will stay during your journey for Old Silk Route.