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Fall in Love with Pangong Lake

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Pangong Lake is Ladakh’s most important tourist attraction. This sapphire stretch of Lake is situated at a height of 4350 meters and looks as if it is a piece of heaven that fell on earth. Surrounded by barren mountains, this lake is perhaps one among the foremost lovely lakes in Ladakh. Its waters, which seem to be dyed in blue, stand in unadulterated contrast to the arid mountains surrounding it. Extending to virtually a hundred and sixty kilometers, one-third of the Pangong Lake lies in India and the other two-thirds in China. In this post I shared my experience of my pangong lake tour.

Disclaimer: This article includes affiliate links. If you purchase through these links, it will incur no extra cost to you but I will get a referral bonus to fund our travels.

Average width is around 5 km making it one of the largest brackish water lakes in the world. The vistas of the lake are thus beautiful that many movies are shot here. Pangong Lake, one of the most famous lakes in Leh Ladakh, derives its name from the Tibetan word, “Pangong Tso”, which means “high grassland lake”.

You could spend hours in observation here, and still not have enough of its beauty. One issue that draws tourists here is that the method the salt water reacts once the daylight falls leading to completely different reminder water. This beautiful lake is the breeding ground for several migratory birds like Bar-headed goose and Brahmini Duck. If you’ve got determined to travel on a visit to Ladakh anytime presently, don’t forget to visit the Pangong Lake. The beauty that awaits you there can not be represented in words. It has to be seen, felt and absorbed within you. In this article, I have tried to provide you details about my visit to Pangong Lake from Leh, information on routes, best time to visit and various other important information.

Inner Line Permit for Pangong Lake

Inner Line permit, or ILP, is a travel document issued by the Government of India which allows an Indian and foreigner travelers to travel to a protected area for a limited time period. Obtaining this permit is necessary for all the citizens who don’t belong to Jammu and Kashmir State. Foreigners visiting Ladakh are needed to get Ladakh Protected area permit (PAP) before coming into this region. The Inner Line permit, or ILP, is valid for a period of 3 weeks for Indians, and 1 week for foreigners. It ought to even be remembered that there’s no limit on the quantity of times you visit an area among the valid amount as long as you’ve got the necessary permits with you.

Pangong Lake is considered for inner line, as the place is closer to border. For foreign nationals, a Protected Area permit has to be procured before they can travel from Leh to Pangong Tso. Inner line permit can either be applied for or obtained in person from DM office Leh or online. Protected area permit must be obtained through a registered broker. Please make multiple photocopy of your permit when you are traveling to Pangong Lake.

HOW I ARRANGED MY INNER LINE PERMIT FOR LADAKH TOUR

For online application follow mentioned link- http://www.lahdclehpermit.in/

2. How I reached Pangong Tso from Leh

I availed the most common and direct route to reach Pangong Lake from Leh. However if you want to get Pangong Lake directly from Leh, below is the route you have to cover.

Leh to Shey to Karu(35 kms)

Karu to Shakti to Chang La(45 Km)

Chang la to Durbuk to Tangst(45 kms)

Tangste to Lukung to Spangmik (Pangong Tso)(50 km)

We started from Leh around 9 o’clock in the morning. It is my advice to start early that you can reach Pangong Tso late afternoon. In this route we covered near 200 km within 7 hours. First we reached to Shey.

Shey

Shey is a village in the Leh district of Jammu and Kashmir, India. The recent summer Palace of the kings of Ladakh is found here. The palace was designed over 555 years past by Lhachen Palgyigon, the king of Ladakh. The palace has the most important golden Buddha sculpture in Ladakh.

We took a short break at a little roadside cafe to observe the beauty. My cab pilot Padma told me that the name Shey is a distortion of shell, which means mirror, a name inspired by the Shey Lake. Now covered with a very stubborn type of weed, the lake at one time, used to reflect the entire span of the old Shey palace. Now solely a little patch of the lake reflects the traditional glory of the palace. Then we reached to Karu.

Karu

A place nobody will miss during the journey to Pangong from Leh is Karu, a town, a junction where the natives are found in huge numbers and it is the starting point of Chang La. Throughout the route, one can find many chortens and the splash of multiple shades make Karu a different setting altogether. From Karu the road to Hemis Monstery also starts. Karu is known for the military Goodwill Public school started with the support of Tangtse Brigade in 1998. Then we reached to Chang La.

Chang La

Chang La (height 5,360 m or 17,590 ft) is a high mountain pass in Ladakh, India. It is claimed to be the third highest motorable road in the world (which is after Kaksang La – 5,438 m or 17,841 Feet and Suge La – 5,430 m or 17,815 Feet). The climb to Chang La is very steep and requires a careful drive. The stretch of 10-15 km road on either side from Chang la is loose dirt and mud. The descent from Chang La towards Tangtse or Darbuk is once more terribly steep. As per the doctors, it is advisable not to stay at the top for more than 20-25 mins as it could be harmful to health owing to its high altitude.

The Chang La is on the route to Pangong Lake from Leh. A group of people believe that the name literally means “Northern Pass” (Chang = north, La = Pass). The small town of Tangste is the nearest settlement. The world’s highest research station, established by the Defence research and Development Organisation is purposeful in Chang La at a height of 17,664 ft. Another group’s belief is that the name Chang La came from a famous sadhu named Sadhu Changla Baba. It was once him that the pass got its present name, and a temple dedicated to him stands here these days. Whatever it may be Chang La Pass possesses the kind of scenic beauty that is associated with most of the other places in Ladakh.

There are several reasons for Chang La pass being famed among tourists. It is located at an incredible altitude and boasts unbelievable scenic beauty. It’s interesting to know that the pass, which is guarded and protected by the Indian Army (it’s located very near to the Chinese border), is covered in snow throughout the year. The beauty of this place can exceed your wildest imaginations.

Chang La Pass is gorgeous and engaging, no doubt. However, it should not be forgotten that it’s situated at an altitude which can cause several physical embarrassments, especially if one is visiting it the first time. It is completely necessary to require certain precautions whereas visiting the Chang La Pass. This will make sure that you’ve got an excellent time whereas being safe and sound. At an altitude of 5,360 m, the air is quite thin and may cause certain problems such as breathlessness, headaches and other complications. Therefore, it’s best to remain at the highest for no more than fifteen to twenty minutes. However, if you’ve got any kind of respiration issues, it would be advisable to carry oxygen cylinders with yourself. You should additionally consult your doctor initial before taking a visit to Chang La Pass. Then we reached Tangtse around 1 pm. You can also read-

ALL ABOUT ACUTE MOUNTAIN SICKNESS

Tangtse

People going to Pangong Lake generally stop here to take lunch. With the positivity surrounding the whole environment, when we sit in silence for food we felt absolutely peaceful and completely relaxed, all our tiredness vanished. We had our lunch at Pangong Lake Restaurant. It was a small but clean restaurant. We have a limited choice with maggie, momo,veg thali and omlette. We have taken two veg thali, two omlette and one plate momo. After Tangste we reached Spangmik around 4 pm.

Spangmik

Our last destination for the day. Spangmik is as remote village of Ladakh which can accessible by road. It is almost like being at the edge of the world. A small army check-post bars civilians from going to any extent further towards the border of Tibet. The village is located on a narrow stretch of land between the mountains and the lake, with just a few families that make a living by rearing pashmina goats and growing barley during the short summer season. These days, some families hire out a space or 2 for tourists whereas some others work with hotels arising within the area. Summer is a busy season where a lot of things have to be done together – nurture the fields, looking after tourists, taking the goats out for grazing and collecting all necessary resources for a long winter. Tandup, the only caretaker at our guesthouse gave me some insights into life at Spangmik through the year. By the way, when we went there that is the beginning of winter. Most of the activity in Spangmik happens in summer, while winters are months to be spent doing very little work. It is a time once the weather is harsh, the land is snowbound and the lake is frozen. “There isn’t much to do during the cold days,” Tandup told me, “we will spend most of our days staying indoors.” But still, they are not the days spent completely idling. The sheep have to be taken care of and the meals have to be cooked, which is a lot of work in itself when you don’t have too many resources at hand. But compared to the busy summers when there is simply too much to do, they have a lot of free time in the cold days.

Unlike several components of Ladakh that get bring to a halt throughout the winter months, Spangmik remains connected with Leh by road through the year. “The road through Chang La remains open,” says Tandup, “we are very close to the border. So, Indian Army ensures that this place is often accessible.” The sensitive border has to be monitored ceaselessly despite the troublesome conditions in winter. “Not many people come here during winter,” Tandup continues, “but a few tourists do turn up once in a while. The lake will be frozen solid and people even drive their cars on it.”

The remoteness of Spangmik is the major beauty I felt when seen from our cottage. The few homes are scattered like dots during a landscape dominated by the long blue stretch of the lake and therefore the barren mountain slopes.

Our one night in Spangmik seemed too short a time to get a good feel of the place. The peace of the village will slowly let the difficult issues of a bigger world depart and have a relaxed influence over mind and body. But the temptation of new things, new places and a desire to be everywhere is hard to resist.

Pangong Lake

Next morning we started our journey to Tso moriri. On the way we spent time and enjoyed the panoramic lake. Pangong Lake additionally called Pangong Tso is settled within the mountain range and is 134 kilometer long, extending from India to China. Pangong Lake is settled at a height of 4350 m and is one in all the most important traveler attractions of the country. The beauty and appeal of this lake has attracted people from all over the country and beyond.

The one issue that produces this Lake thus widespread is that the proven fact that it keeps ever-changing colours. Situated within the Himalayan mountain range it’s some 140 kilometer from Leh in Jammu and Jammu and Kashmir. The name of the lake Pangong was got from a Tibetan word Banggong meaning a slender and charmed lake. And currently you recognize that the lake possesses its name truly. You will recognize this after you visit the gorgeous lake of Pangong. You are sure to be enthralled by the charm.

This spot has also been a favorite among many photographers. If you are planning to visit Pangong Lake, make sure you do not visit during winters because the whole lake freezes during this season of the year. Also the region has really harsh winters, so avoid places like these during winters. The interesting fact about Pangong Lake is that it has saline water and even then the water freezes and also because of this the lake cannot have any kind of vegetation or even aquatic life. But again, you do not have to be disappointed; you will be treated to the views of many migratory birds. The climate is cold and when dawn it gets harsher. Do not expect any kind of yachting activities here. Being settled thus close to the border, the Pangong Lake is still considered to be a very delicate region to visit. Visit this place just for its beauty and magnificence. And just for a gentle reminder, the Pangong Lake became much famous due to a Bollywood movie- 3 Idiots. Remember the scene where Kareena Kapoor goes to meet Aamir Khan riding a scooter? That is Pangong Lake and those of you who have watched the movie know that the picturesque beauty of Pangong Tso or the Pangong Lake is unmatched for.

Another Bollywood movie ‘Jab Tak Hain Jaan’ was also shot at Pangong Lake. Do you remember the scene where Anushka Sharma meets Shah Rukh Khan while shooting for Discovery Channel? If you’ve got watched closely, then it’s impossible to ignore the stunning backdrop of that scene. That particular scene was shot at one in all the foremost gorgeous lakes within the world, Pangong Lake. Sanam Re and Waqt-The Race Against time also pictured here.

If you are looking for an accommodation somewhere close to the Lake, then tents are the only option that you can consider. Like we mentioned earlier, camping is allowed on the shores of the lake. The region has pretty restricted choices to remain at and even within the encompassing regions. You could also look for Lukung- they offer decent camping options with Eco Huts. Else, you may additionally seek for accommodation in Spangmik; and these accommodations are normal hotels with simply basic facilities. And if you have the skills of bonding with locals, then you will be surprised to know that the locals offer accommodation. The only factor that may be a touch uncomfortable for a few is that the proven fact that toilets are shared and a few are outside the house.

Things to remember

  1. An important thing to remember here is that the lake changes colors and therefore you must plan at least one night stay here at Spangmik village to witness the changing colors.
  2. Always try to pre book your accommodation. It usually is very difficult to find accommodation near the lake as most of the tents and huts are also occupied.

3.  Carry adequate winter clothes and a medical aid ready in case of any emergencies.

4.   Altitude sickness is a very common problem on your visit to Leh or anywhere around. Take adequate rest after landing Leh.

5.   Avoid using plastic bags here.

6.  Do not expect any phone signals at Pangong Lake or the nearby area. This in fact is a good thing since people get to explore the attraction and make the most of their time in this beautiful place.

7. Start early from Leh that you can reach Spangmik before evening.

8. Carry spare petrol/Disel because there are no petrol pumps after leaving Leh.

9. Carry sufficient oxygen cylinder even it require or not. This is my advice. Whether you’ll follow or not depends on you.

10. June to September is the peak tourist season.

11. Carry only cash. There are no ATMs/Banks on the way. No one accepts credit/Debit card there.

12.No medical facility available in Pangong Lake. The nearest place you’ll be able to expect to search out some basic medicines or a Doctor is at Tangtse.

13. Practice to take Maggie,momo and alu paratha in breakfast,lunch and dinner when you are in Ladakh.

Conclusion

I hope this post will help you to travel Pangong Lake smoothly. If you have any queries feel free to comment in comment section below. 

Also read A TRAVELERS GUIDE TO NUBRA VALLEY TOUR

Last updated 06.01.21

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