Nepal is a very rich country, in both cultural and natural aspect. Home to most of the tallest mountain in the world, deepest gorges, hidden valleys, distinctive villages, makes Nepal more than alluring. Also, the ancient monuments and heritage, a diverse range of culture and tradition add more fun and excitement.
Characterized by the diverse tradition, the core culture of every ethnic group in Nepal is unique. Our beliefs are defined by our devotion and our devotion to God is present in more than temples, church, monasteries, and masjid. In Nepal, we worship the stones, trees, lakes, rivers, and ponds because of the belief that they depict god in some form.
There are many such places where the god is not represented in the temple, but something else. Shey Phuksundo Lake is one of the sites which is equally beautiful and holds religious importance as well.
About Shey Phuksundo Lake
Shey Phuksundo Lake is within the area of Shey Phuksunodo National Park in the Dolpa District of Nepal. The lake lies at an elevation of 3,611.5 meters/11,849 feet. Shey Phuksundo Lake is an oligotrophic lake with fresh alpine water. The lake is of 494 hector/1.91 square mi size. The water volume of the lake is 409,000,000 m3and discharges is of 3.715m3/s.
As per the survey conducted by the Department of Hydrology and Meteorology in 2004, the maximum depth of Shey Phuksundo is 145 meters/476 feet. Moving towards the southern end of the lake, there is a village named Ringmo, which sits on the 30,000 to 40,000-year-old landslide dam that formed the lake. Ringmo is traditional with mainly Tibetan ethnicity, where you will also see a magnificent waterfall of over 167 meters/548 feet which plunges from the river that drains from the Shey Phuksundo Lake.
The religious essence of Shey Phuksundo Lake
Along with the natural beauty of this lake, Shey Phuksundo Lake is also important from the religious point of view. In Dolpa, the religion is divided into two parts, in the upper Dolpa region, you will find traditional Tibetan culture as mainstream, and in the lower Dolpa, you can find Buddhism and Bon in privilege which also includes Ringmo Village.
The lake is visited by hundreds of people yearly to take a bath in the holy water of this sacred lake. There are several religious sites which include gompas and monasteries. Among all those sites, Shey Gompa is the most popular one, which was built in the 11th century. There is also anther gompa near the lake, Thashung Gompa. It was built about 900 years back.
Best time to visit Shey Phuksundo Lake
Spring Season starts from March to May. This season is often chosen by trekkers to go to the lake. In this season, you can experience the beautiful sight of rhododendrons forest with colorful flowers blooming. Spring Season is characterized by moderate temperature and ideal weather. In that weather, you will see the crystal clear view of Dhaulagiri and several other mountains.
Summer season starts from June and ends in August. Summer season is the rainy season, and it starts with scorching sun and then comes monsoon. There is heavy rainfall which makes the path muddy and slippery. During the summer season, it won’t be very ideal to make a journey to the lake as the rain may pour anytime.
Autumn Season starts from September to November. Visiting Shey Phuksundo during autumn will be nice as the weather is nice, the temperature is mild and the days are mostly clear. You will go through the beautiful forest of pine, sal, rhododendron, and others while witnessing the stunning view of mountain peaks.
In the higher Himalayan region, winter gets very extreme and bitter. As the Shey Phuksundo lake is situated at an altitude of 3,611.5 meters, the winter in there gets quite harsh. However, you can choose to trek this season, if you take a good amount of warm clothes.
Shey Phuksundo National Park
Spread in the area of 3,555 km2, Shey Phuksundo National Park is the largest national park of Nepal, and it is also the only trans-Himalayan national park of Nepal. As the lake lies within the national park, you will get to explore the biodiversity of the park as well. Shey Phuksundo National Park offers you a diverse range of beautiful landscapes and Mountain View; making is one of the most scenic mountain parks in the whole world.
The park is very rich in biodiversity. In the northern region of the park, there are barren areas of the upper Himalayas and the trans-Himalayan slope lands consists of white Himalayan birch, Salix, juniper, caragana shrubs, and rhododendron. The high meadows of Himalayas are dominated by the silver firs. The forested region of the park is less than 5 percent, and the most of it lies on the southern part. Cedar, poplar, bamboo, hemlock, spruce and blue pine can also be found in the park.
The park is inhabited by many endangered species, which includes blue sheep, snow leopard, grey wolf, and musk deer. There are 200 species of birds, 29 species of butterfly and six species of reptiles in the park. Other wildlife including goral, Himalayan tahr, great Tibetan sheep, jackal, leopard, yellow-throated marten is also found in the park.
The culture around the Shey Phuksundo National Park
The people of this region mostly follow Tibetan Buddhism. There are several gompas, monasteries, and religious sites which date back hundreds of years ago. People here live the traditional lifestyle, speak their ethnic language, and for food, they depend on the local products like potatoes, buckwheat, beans mustard and barky, which they grow by themselves. They also keep livestock as a source of good and wool. You may find it hard to believe, but the people of this region still barter to Tibetan for salt and wool.
Way to Shey Phuksundo Lake
Trekking to Shey Phuksundo Lake is one of the favorites and popular trekking destination of Nepal. Yearly except for the trekkers, hundreds of people pay a visit to the lake constituted by their religious belief. For trekking towards Shey Phuksundo, you have to take a domestic flight to Nepalgunj from Kathmandu, and from Nepalgunj, another domestic flight to Jufal.
From Jufal, you will start your trekking journey to the lake. Starting off from Jufal, you will pass along the bank of Bheri river, delightful forest and many ascend and descend. Then, reaching the place called Dunai, you might choose to spend a night there camping and having fun with your group.
Moving forward in your journey, you will cross a suspension bridge over the Bheri river, which is very thrilling and fun. You will pass the village of Suligad. In the path, you will see the forest of rhododendron, bamboo, silver fir, hemlock, cider and other. Ahead you will pass the distinctive villages like Kagbeni and Ringmo, which are rich in traditional Tibetan culture. You will reach Chepka crossing a small rivulet of a village named Shyangta.
Then your next destination is Sundwa. From here, the trails will get a bit difficult than the earlier ones. You will go through the forest with giant trees, pass some major uphill and downhill and downhill and comes Sunduwa. In the area, you are trekking is a national park and is a natural heritage, remember not to pollute the place by taking several water bottle. It will be best if you take some water purifier, refill on the bottle on the way and add the purifier as it will save you some dollars and it is healthy for the environment as well and promotes ecotoursim.
Ringmo comes next after Sundown. While heading to Ringmo, you will cross the 3,000-meter elevation. You will also witness the spectacular waterfall which falls from the river that drains water from the Shey Phuksundo Lake. Ringmo is a traditional Bon village with most people engaging in trade, yak herding, and tourism. You can choose to spend a day in this village and get to know the culture and lifestyle.
Then finally comes your ultimate destination, the lake of Shey Phukusndo. This lake is very popular for its beautiful turquoise color. There are also glaciers surrounding the lake, the thunderous sound of the waterfall, which is the highest waterfall in Nepal and you can also see the beautiful landscapes view around with green and delightful forest.