Shey Phoksundo Lake | All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go

Shey Phoksundo Lake is the most visited destination in the Dolpo region. This is the most attractive place among the many places in Nepal. It is Situated at an elevation of 3,612 meters (11,851 feet) above sea level.  Shey Phoksundo Lake is the deepest lake among all the lakes in Nepal. The lake is surrounded by rocky cliffs and snowy peaks, lending it a stunning alpine setting. Shey Phoksundo is the combination of Shey Phoksundo National Park. It is considered as the small piece of heaven place in the world by the visitors.

It is surrounded by 20 Buddhist monasteries. The outlet of the lakes forms a 167-meter waterfall, which makes it the highest waterfall in Nepal. Visitors need a Shey Phoksundo National Park permit as well as a Dolpo restricted permit to explore the beautiful Shey Phoksundo Lake.

Formation and Beliefs of shey Poksundo lake

From the locals, it is believed that a powerful demon once had a fierce battle with a rival upstream from the area now known as Shey Phoksundo Lake. The legend goes that one of the demons brought down an entire mountain during their clash, causing the mountain to block the Suligad River.

There is also an ancient Tibetan Buddhist tale about how the lake formed. It is said there was once a virtuous lama in Tibet who confronted an evil demon troubling the locals. The lama demanded the demon leave the people in peace, but it refused. So the lama gave chase, pursuing the demon all the way from Tibet to Phoksundo.

Bathymetric Map of Phoksundo Lake
Image: Bathymetric Map of Phoksundo Lake (Source: The Department of Hydrology and Meteorology Nepal)

The demon is described as carrying a bowl of oil in one hand and water in the other as it fled. During the long pursuit, the demon accidentally spilled the bowl of water. The story holds that this massive spillage of water combined with the previously blocked river to create the very deep, high-altitude Phoksundo Lake, trapping the lama behind it as the demon escaped.

However, geological research suggests Phoksundo Lake was actually formed around 40,000 years ago by a huge glacial mountain collapse. The rubble dammed the river, allowing water to accumulate into the present-day lake basin. The overflow from melting glaciers creates one of the highest waterfalls in Nepal as the water escapes over the collapsed mountain dam.

Flora and Fauna

The park has a remarkably varied range of flora. The high meadows of the Himalayas are dominated by juniper, Salix, white Himalayan birch, and silver fir. The northern parts contain arid portions of the upper Himalayas and the Himalayan slope lands.

The park contains less than 5% forest area. Bamboo, rhododendron, poplar, blue pine, spruce, hemlock, cedar, and silver fir are found in the forest area.

Also Read: Tilicho Lake | One of the Cleanest Lakes in Nepal

The park is home to different endangered species which include snow leopards, Himalayan black bear, grey wolves, musk deer, blue ships, Himalayan thar, jackals, and great Tibetan sheep. The park contains 29 species of butterflies and six reptiles. It contains almost 200 species of birds.

Diverse culture around the lake

More than 9 thousand people live in the area. Bon Buddhism is the religion that the people follow here, it was an old religion. It was founded about 18 thousand years ago under the Zhang Zung Empire which ruled western Tibet.

Sacred monasteries, Chortens, and thangka paintings dot the countryside. Agriculture and trade with Tibet are the main sources of income for the locals. The salt trade caravans from this religion are well-known aspects.

Shey Phoksundo National Park

Shey Phoksundo National Park. It is known for its spectacular landscapes and breathtaking mountain views. The national park gets a few visitors with an area of 3555 sq km. Shey Phoksundo National Park is the biggest Himalayan national park in Nepal. It is located in the Dolpo and Mugu district in Nepal. The park has been open to visitors or tourists since 1989. The headquarters of the park lies in Palam, Dolpo.

Shey Phoksundo National Park
Image: Shey Phoksundo National Park (Source: Unsplash/Asian Heritage Treks and Travels)

Shey Phoksundo National Park covers an area of 1349 sq km of demilitarized area. various species of rare flora and fauna are found inside the Shey Phoksundo National Park. Medicinal herbs including Yarshagumba, Jatamasi, panchaule, and many more medicinal herbs can be found inside the park. It is the home of 29 different butterflies and animals like snow leopard, Himalayan thar, blue sheep, musk deer, black bear, and other mammals can be found.

Vegetation

Shey Phoksunndo is the biggest range Himalayan national park of Nepal. it lies at an elevation from 2130 meters above the sea level to 6885 meters above the sea level. 

The northern part of the shey Phoksundo is covered with trees of rhododendrons, white Himalayan birch, juniper, salix, and cargan.  The area is dominated by blue pine, rhododendron, silver fir, hemlock, spruce, bamboo, and poplar.

 The best time to visit Shey Phoksundo Lake

The best time to visit Shey Phoksundo Lake in Nepal is during the warm and pleasant months of April to October.

The temperature during this period remains favorable for outdoor activities like trekking, hiking, camping, etc.

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The weather during this period is also more favorable for exploring the scenic beauty of the lake as the sun shines brightly and the sky remains clear.

Apart from the weather, the period also coincides with the high season for these activities, which provides additional opportunities to explore the lake.

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