Pangong Tso or the famous Pangong Lake as we all know has been one of Ladakh’s biggest tourist attractions since time immemorial. Did you know that this famous Ladakh Lake has been featured in the super hit Aamir Khan movie 3 Idiots? Yes, the Pangong Lake Ladakh has an irrepressible charm of its own, something that has made it a spectacular sight to behold almost all around the year. Pangong Tso is situated 4,350 m above sea level (try digesting that!) and is the highest saltwater lake in the whole world.
The Pangong Lake is also unique since it does not drain and is landlocked fully. The basin of the lake was formed through erosion of glaciers and it was earlier a freshwater lake which changed with accumulation of mineral deposits. Pangong Lake has an estimated depth of 300 feet and freezes up in winters.
Visiting Pangong Lake
You should certainly keep Pangong Lake on your itinerary if you are finally making that Leh-Ladakh trip! The lake is situated in eastern Ladakh’s Changthang zone which is a 6-hour drive approximately with the whole journey covering the Ladakh Range via Chang La at 5,360 m above sea level! The lake covers a whopping 135 km as well.
You should certainly not forget that the Pangong Lake falls in a sensitive region and the Line of Actual Control passes through it between China and India. The Indian Army maintains and keeps the road via Chang La open at all times throughout the year unless there is heavy snowfall. During winters, you can also take a walk on the icy lake which is a major attraction. There are only a few homestays nearby for accommodation purposes. The best time to visit is between May and October and the peak seasons are usually in the months of June and July.
You will need the Inner Line Permit (ILP) if you’re an Indian citizen for visiting the lake and foreign visitors will require the PAP (Protected Area Permit). You can get the ILP from the Tourist Information Centre which is located at the Main Bazaar in Leh.
Pangong Lake Promises to be an Out of the World Experience
Not only Pangong Lake give you some of the best and literally picture perfect snaps of a lifetime, it will also help you unwind with its picturesque landscape and imposing mountain views. Most people choose to visit the lake as part of a day’s journey from Leh and some even stay the night. The sunset or sunrise over the Pangong Lake makes for a spectacular sight and a must for all photography enthusiasts. The Lake is often covered in a bigger tour itinerary which includes the Nubra Valley and its attractions including Diskit, Khardung La, Tso Moriri Lake and Hunder among others. The Pangong Lake keeps changing its colours throughout the year which is a really unique feature. It turns light or azure blue from deep blue and then green and even grey at times!
If you’re lucky, you may spot the Kiang which is the Ladakh wild ass or the rodent Marmot which is found here. There are several seagulls and Brahmani ducks to be found here in summers. There are quite a few eateries and joints offering tea, Maggi and other food items near the lake. Some of these include Tsampa, Thukpa and Skyu along with Momos. Some stalls also offer Chang which is the indigenous local alcoholic beverage along with tea/coffee.
However, it is recommended that you carry some dry food items with you to cater to sudden hunger pangs! Remember to get your permit and always have your car/bike fuelled up nicely since petrol pumps cannot be found in this part of town! Leh-Ladakh is anyway a mystical and soul stirring affair and the Pangong Lake is certainly one of the most soothing excursions that you can make. The serenity and glimmering waters along with the majestic mountains and postcardesque landscape will make you go click-click at the drop of a hat! Of course, this is also a great place to spend some time alone with your thoughts or simply with your gang of buddies/family members if that’s your thing!
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