How often do you wonder about a place that looks like a painting straight out of the canvas? Pangong Tso lake, a secluded water body tucked in the Himalayas, wears the deepest shade of azure and flaunts a beautiful scenery.
At a remarkable 14,270 feet, and 154 km to the southeast of Leh, Pangong lake is one of the most picturesque creations of nature. The 134 km long waterbody starts from eastern Ladakh and stretches up to Tibet. And the beauty is adorned with fluffy clouds and sharp mirror images of the overlooking mountains reflecting in the brackish water.
What makes Pangong Tso lake special?
Pangong lake in Ladakh is one of the highest endorheic brackish lakes and is also the most sought after attractions in the Trans-Himalayan region. Such is its allure that Pangong commands a dedicated itinerary from travel enthusiasts.
Experts recommend June – September as the best time to visit Pangong lake. This is when the roads leading to Leh are clear; the sun shines brightly in the sky and weather is as favorable as it gets. But…
Who cares! If you are looking at something more daunting and extreme, try visiting Leh Ladakh in winter i.e. December – February, when the lake is entirely frozen. The beauty of the lake is still unmatched and you can actually feel the bite as you walk across it.
Suggested Read: Fulfilling My Childhood Dream With A Trip To The Amazing Ladakh
How to reach Pangong lake
By air: Reach Leh airport, which is well connected to other Indian cities
By rail: Jammu Tawi is the nearest railway station, 700 km from Ladakh
By road: Manali – Leh highway is the road that takes you to Leh Ladakh. Pangong lake is 200 km from Leh, which is a 4-hour ride.
Air and rail are the only two options left to breach Leh Ladakh in winter as Manali – Leh highway is all choked up and Rohtang Pass is closed.
Places of attraction around Pangong Tso lake
1. Khardung La Pass – The highest motorable road in the world
2. Spangmik village – A picturesque dwelling near Pangong
3. Chang-Chenmo mountain range overlooking the lake
4. Thiksey monastery – Largest monastery in the central Ladakh
5. Hemis monastery – A peaceful retreat amidst the Trans-Himalayan region
Things to do at Pangong Tso lake
Apart from soaking in the awesomeness of this secluded haven, there isn’t much you need to do. As you head to Pangong Tso, you leave the material world 100 km behind. No mobile signal, no internet, and no ATM around as well, you see Pangong is the perfect place to admire nature at its best.
But there are places and experiences that refine your trip to Pangong Tso. Here are a few:
1. Spot the rare marmots: A friend waiting for company
About 25 km before you reach Pangong Tso, you will come across a sign board that reads, ‘Stop here to see rare endemic species marmot’. These endemic rare marmots stay hidden in the potholes and come out often. All you need to do is patiently wait for them to come out.
Out of the 14 remaining species of marmots, only two – long-tailed marmot and the Himalayan marmot- are found in India.
2. Enjoy the sight of migratory birds: The flying bliss
Pangong lake is a birder’s paradise too. Bird species like Bar-headed goose and Brahmini ducks stroll in the lake when the weather conditions are favorable. It’s a treat to watch them flock around the lake with raw mountains making the perfect frame. That’s picture perfect, right?
3. Ideal for candid photography: Because it’s breathtakingly beautiful
Given the perfect assimilation of different elements of nature, Pangong Tso lake area makes for a photographer’s perfect muse. Leave the DSLRs alone – even if you take a selfie from an ordinary phone, the beauty of this place makes it look photoshopped. So, go on a photography spree and don’t let your finger rest on the snap button.
4. Army cafeteria at Chang La Pass: Quick bite at the top of the world
One must traverse the Chang La Pass before getting down in the valley and heading towards Pangong Tso. You will find army post at Chang La at an altitude of 5300 meters. Stop by to grab some quick bite at the army canteen there. Aloo parantha, toast, sandwich, tea, and Maggi are some of the easily available fast foods options.
5. Ice-hockey & skating: Slide across the lake
December to February is the ideal time to try some daring activities on the frozen Pangong Tso lake. This is when the extreme cold conditions turn the lake into a sheet of ice and allow you can trek, walk, play ice-hockey, and skate.
Tips for traveling to Pangong lake
- Proper acclimatization comes before anything as you plan to ride the highest motorable road in the world.
- Moisturizer, sunscreen lotion, sunglasses, heavy woolen garments are a must.
- Acute Mountain Sickness is the common phenomenon at these places. Carry first aid kit with medicines for nausea, headache, and vomiting.
- Stay warm and hydrated.
- Be a responsible traveler, don’t litter packets and wrappers anywhere.
- Drive well within speed limits, the roads are too treacherous to handle.
Places to stay at Pangong lake
After the lake shot to fame from the movie 3 Idiots, people keep thronging the region to catch the unedited version of the lake right in front of their eyes. Given the growth of tourism in the region, a lot of hotels and homestays have come up near to Pangong Tso lake.
Here are top 5 hotels near Pangong lake in Ladakh where you can plan a comfortable stay:
1. Wonderland Camp
What’s special: Swiss cottage tents, camel safari in Nubra valley, rafting in Zanskar river
Tariff: INR 3900 per night onwards
2. Camp Redstart
What’s special: Panoramic view of the lake, bird watching, fresh stream running through the camp
Tariff: INR 4200 per night onwards
3. Pangong Inn
What’s special: Wood paneled room, exceptional view from the resort, modern amenities
Tariff: INR 3500 per night onwards
4. Pangong Retreat
What’s special: Comfortable canvas tent, snow-capped mountains in the backdrop
Tariff: INR 3900 per night onwards
5. Royal Camp
What’s special: Campfire, restaurant facility, cultural program
Tariff: INR 2100 per night onwards
However hard it is to conquer the formidable, once you reach the summit the sweet view of the pristine lake is worth all your perseverance and hardships that you went through to make it there. If this doesn’t intrigue you, nothing ever would. Pangong Tso therapy is all you need!
Plan your holiday in Ladakh now!