Have you ever thought about which is the most beautiful lake in India? That means you have not yet visited this lake called Pangong Tso, also called the Pangong Lake.
If you have visited it then obviously there will be no doubt in giving the whole credit to this most beautiful lake. It is at the foot of the Himalayas with about a 14,270 feet elevation the lake offers a surreal spectacle view.
It is popular among tourists for its changing colors. It also has other specialties of being an endorheic lake. It is one of the most lovable spots found in India.
Its beauty was also shown in a popular Bollywood Movie of Aamir Khan-3 Idiots in its climax sequence.
About Pangong Lake
It is one of the highly elevated saltwater lakes in the world. The lake is unusual because the water of the lake is locked. Unlike other water bodies, it does not flow to merge into seas or oceans. Therefore, it is called the endorheic lake. It was created by glacier erosion and it used to be a freshwater lake. It became brackish due to mineral deposits which also killed the aquatic life in the lake. The depth of the lake is estimated to be 300 feet. The lake is salty but still manages to freeze in winter. During changes in climate, the warm weather helps the snowmelt, adding up water to the lake. The lake stretches for about 135 km long and is 5km wide at its broadest point. The lake is so clean that you can see the reflection of the sky in the lake, making the whole lake look in ‘blue’. It changes if the color as reflection changes.
History of Pangong Tso, India
The lake is situated in disputed territory. It is only 1/3rd part of the Pangong Tso lake in Ladakh, India. The eastern end of the lake is in Tibet and the western side in India. This lake is considered as being made up of five sub lakes. They are together called ‘Tsomo Nganglha Ringpo’.
The etymology of Pangong is that it is derived from the Tibetan word called ”Banggong Co” which means “long narrow enchanted lake”. The Ladakh government website describes Pangong means “high grassland lake”.
The European explorers say the name means “female narrow very long lake” while other sources claim the meaning to be “long-necked swan lake”.
Best Time To visit Pangong Tso Lake
Anytime except the winter season is the best time to visit. It is because during winter the climate is very cold to handle and the lake also freezes which reduces the beauty of the lake. The lake is beautiful when it seems to be alive. May to October is more comfortable to visit than any other.
But if you are interested in Ice skating, winter is the best time to visit. June and July are months with the peak number of tourists, so if you want to avoid the crowd pick other months to visit.
What not to miss in Pangong Tso?
- The sunrises and sunsets over the lake are marvellous sights, so spending the night is highly recommended. A camp stay near the lake is adventurous and a memory for a whole life. The sky, the air, the night spent near the lake will be an amazing experience, all away from the chaos of the cities we live in.
- The flora and fauna in and around the Pangong lake are rare and endemic. Species like “Marmot” are found approximately 10 km before the lake. There will be a sign board stating that “Stop here to see the rare endemic Marmots”. Migratory birds like the bar-headed goose and brahmini ducks can be seen around the lake.
- The place is perfect for clicking as many pictures as possible. Irrespective of the camera and the photographer, the pictures of the lake are going to be amazing. When you look back at these pictures they make you miss this place.
- Take a dip in the lake, at least put your legs in the water. The coldness you feel might stop you from doing that, but this is once a lifetime experience so utilize it to the fullest. The coldness is temporary but the memories are forever.
- There are votive stupas in the entire region of Ladakh. Locals keep sacred texts and goods that are religiously important inside these stupas as offerings. Make your stone pyramids there and give your offerings to Lord Buddha.
- Properties, including yellow scooters (as in the 3 Idiots movie) are available for hire for those who want to have their Bollywood moment and can hire them and pose for the remarkable photos.
- Yaks are available for tourists to take a ride.
- Buddhist monasteries can be visited on the way from Leh to Pangong.
- The Chang la pass is snow-filled. Take some time off there, enjoy the snowfall and have a little chai before resuming the journey.
- Carry winter clothes as the place is cold.
- Required medicines should be carried for altitude sickness and climate change illness.
- It’s recommended that a minimum of three nights be spent resting in Leh after flying in, before setting out to Pangong Lake. This is because the body needs to get accustomed to the high altitude. Other tips for minimizing altitude sickness include avoiding alcohol, smoking, and being appropriately hydrated.
- Always pre-book your accommodation since most of them are always full and most of the tents will also be occupied. So always pre-book hotels and if not, you should opt for a homestay. If you want a place near the lake then you must make a pre-advance booking.
- Phone signals are not available at Pangong Lake or the nearby area. So it is better to inform any required person about the travel and phone signals beforehand itself.
- The place being highly elevated has limited options for one to eat. Hence on journeys like these, it is always advisable to carry your stock of food.
How to reach Pangong Tso?
The usually taken route is the Leh to Pangong Tso route. The journey is about 6 hours. Another route is the Nubra Valley to Pangong Tso Lake, which is used by domestic tourists.
The lake falls on the Sina-Indian actual line of control, so the tourists need to take the “Inner line permission”, in the case of foreigners they need “Protected Area Permit”. They are issued online. PAP for solo foreign tourists is available only through a registered agent in Leh.
The citizens of Afghanistan, Burma, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and China need permission from the Ministry of Home Affairs in Delhi for PAP and should apply for PAP through the Indian consulate in their country. As it is on the border the visit of The lake is restricted only to a certain area i.e. till Spangmik village.
The Chang la pass is open throughout the year by the armed forces except in the cases of heavy snowfall. You’ll find several travel agents in Leh offering less or more tour packages to Pangong Lake. Bookings can readily be done thereafter you arrive at Leh. Negotiations can also be done with the agents to save money.
If you want to travel independently, hire a taxi from Leh to Pangong Lake. The taxi rates are generally fixed. Local government buses are also available between Leh and Pangong Lake for those on a budget, but this facility is not available on all days.
Basic homestays to luxury tented camps are available for stay in and around the Pangong Lake.
- If you are looking for accommodation close to the Lake, then tents are the only option. Camping is allowed on the shores of the Pangong lake. For more facilities, you can also try the Himalayan Retreat located in Spangmik village that is also a tented accommodation with attached western bathrooms.
An added advantage with homestays is that they serve delicious home-cooked food. Homestays are available as follows:
- Lukung village is the entry point and the only village with a view of the whole lake. However, the drawback is that it needs walking to the lake’s edge. If you stay in any of the homestays there, choose one closest to the lake.
- Spangmik is the most developed village at Pangong Lake. Most people stay in this area. The fields have been leased to tour companies from Leh to set up stay places for tourists.
- Merak village also offers few friendly homestays
If you want to stay at hotels:
- Hotel Pangong Residency in Tangtse village is one of the best accommodation options that you can consider.
Tariff- Rs 2800 onwards
- There are guest houses to stay like the Padma Guesthouse that offers spectacular views of the Pangong Tso Lake.
- Another great accommodation is the Pangong Inn located in the vicinity of Pangong Lake. The tariff starts from Rs 3500.
- People from all over visit Leh so the other option that you can consider is booking accommodation in Leh like Grand Himalaya, Hotel Nalanda Ladakh. Etc.
The Pangong Tso is the place where you can find nature to its best. Now, nearly 1,000 tourists a day visit the Pangong Tso Lake. Undoubtedly the lake is the most beautiful and pleasant place in India.
The whole surroundings of the lake are very colorful, blue lake, white and brown colored mountains. This place is so beautiful in photographs that you might doubt it, but when you reach the place it will amaze you by its beauty and tranquillity.
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