A Brief Introduction of Pangong Tso
Pangong Tso, one of the most famous tourist destinations in Ladakh, is situated a bit south from east of Leh. Pangong Tso Lake, is an endorheic lake in the Himalayas situated at a height of about 4,350 m (14,270 ft), refers to the grassland lake in Tibetan Language. Standing in stark contrast to the surrounding barren grey mountains, Pangong Lake changes shades of Blue and Green with the rising sun. extending beyond the border of India and China, Pangong Lake is 5 kms wide at its widest point and is about 163 km in length. 60% of Pangong Tso Lake lies in Chinese territory and 40% is in India. Here is a Pangong Tso Guide which will make your travel smoother.
Due to extreme salty nature of water of Pangong Tso Lake there is no fish or any kind of vegetation. While only the crust oceans kind Shrimps live in Pangong Tso Lake, the surrounding arid mountains are home to different species of migrating birds during the breeding season. We could spend hours watching the beauty of Pangong Tso Lake and yet we would have a lot to see of it.
After Pangong Tso Lake was featured in climax scenes of 3 Idiots movie, it has become a household name with every travel enthusiast of India. Recently many movie scenes and songs are being shot at Pangong Tso Lake. The lakes changing colours, adventurous location, peaceful surroundings are some of the highlights of Pangong Tso lake, which are good enough to attract thousands of people from all over the world.
The dream destination of every adventure seeker, Pangong should be on the list of places to visit in a lifetime. So next time you decide to venture into the wilderness of Ladakh, do not forget to spend some time at Pangong Tso Lake.
Things to do at Pangong Tso
If as just sitting with a cup of steaming tea on the banks of Pangong Tso Lake and admire the beauty of Lake and surrounding mountains, was not enough, there are many more things to do in the vicinity of Lake. Camping at Pangong Tso lake can be one of these things to do near Pangong Tso Lake. A bonfire with a barbecue and the beauty of Trans Himalayan mountains.
Although stepping out of the warmth of camp can be a little hard in night but what is out there in the night sky at Pangong Tso Lake is far beyond the reach of words. Stars shine so bright as they are gathered in a calestial party. Sunrise at Pangong Tso Lake is something right out of fairy tales.
During the breeding season of migrating birds Pangong Tso is covered with flocks of birds. Along with some wild Kyangs and Marmots, some wild foxes can been spotted.
Permit and Permission
To visit Pangong Tso Lake one would need Inner Line Permit. The permit for visiting Pangong Tso Lake can be obtained from the DC office in Leh. It can also be obtained with the help of any local travel agents. For Indians , UID Aadhar and Driving license if you are driving, will be enough to obtain permit for Pangong Tso. Online permit for Pangong Tso Lake is available too, it can be obtained from http://lahdclehpermit.in/ . Although permit can be obtained online the permit fee can not be paid online as of now. Permit fee for Pangong Tso and all the places beyond Leh is 400 per person + 20 rupees per day. One needs to take a print of the online form along with its copy and visit the following address – TIC Office, Opposite J&K Bank, Main Market, Leh.
Spangmik village is best option for accommodation at Pangong Tso lake. There are several camps in close proximity of Lake and Village which are fitted with all the essential amenities.
Other than camps there are plenty of homestays in Spangmik village, which is right on the banks of Pangong Tso. These homestays are homes of local people of Ladakh who host tourists in their home. This can be one of the most exciting experiences in Ladakh to live with locals in their own home.
Else one can pitch their own tent, but finding water source in these barren land is not an easy task plus choosing the right spot for camping can be crucial too.
At an altitude of around 4,300 meters, food options at Pangong Tso Lake can be limited. Food will be simple but nutritious. If one decides to stay in any local homestay then you can get a chance to try local cuisines of Ladakh. Due to overflowing influx of tourists both Indians and foreigners, some restaurants and cafes can be found which serve western or fast food too.
How to reach Pangong Lake?
There are multiple options to reach Pangong Tso Lake, four main routes are listed below:
Reaching Pangong Tso from Leh
Through one of the highest motorable passes in the world, Chang La, distance of Pangong Tso from Leh is around 160 km. This route diverses from main Leh-Manali highway in Karu. From Karu take a left going towards Shakti Village. Continue to Chang La Pass, after crossing The Pass keep going towards Durbuk. The little town of Tangste is few hour drive from Chang La Pass. 8km after Tangste town, Pangong Tso starts to appear in the distance. Along the banks of lake, dried bed of the Lake is used for campsites.
Reaching Pangong Tso from Nubra Valley
There are two roads to reach Pangong Tso from Nubra Valley:
Nubra Valley to Pangong Tso via Wari La
One of the most difficult roads of Ladakh region is on this route. Total distance via this route is about 250km which will take around 12 hours to complete, that too with minimum breaks. One should start early from Nubra to reach Pangong Tso on time.
Nubra Valley to Pangong Tso via Agham Shyok road
This is relatively easy approach to Pangong Tso Lake. There is not much blocks on road other then few water crossing near Agham. Total distance from Nubra Valley to Pangong Tso Lake is around 175km which can be covered in 7 to 8 hours of drive easily with breaks. This route is becoming more and more favoured by tourists because it can save a full day of travel to reach Pangong Tso from Nubra valley.
Tso Moriri to Pangong Tso via Hanle and Nyoma
This part of Ladakh is very close to Chinese border. The total distance of 250km is always in the shadow of border. There are not much metalled road in these parts. Dirt track and offroads make this route perfect for people who are looking for some adventurous drives. Ideally this route should be covered with a night stay in between Pangong Tso and Tso Moriri Lake.
Road Conditions towards Pangong Tso
The roads in Leh Ladakh are generally bumpy and uneven, all the way to Chang La Pass. After that, the road conditions get better gradually.When it comes to the vehicles most suitable for the roads in Leh Ladakh, the safest option is to go with an SUV. They are best suited for the twists and turns that are common in the roads of Leh Ladakh.
Best time to visit Pangong Tso
Generally the best time to visit Pangong Tso Lake is during summer months when the weather is most stable and can be relied upon. But there is no particular best season to visit Pangong Tso. In winters when the Pangong Tso freezes, it gives a chance to live the life how locals live in the harsh winters of Ladakh region. Or the short summers when Pangong Tso changes its colours with the sun.
Whenever one decides to visit try to spend some time at Pangong Tso Lake to see it true beauty.
Important tips and suggestions for Pangong Tso
- Altitude sickness is real. Take a day’s rest to get acclimatized.
- Always carry enough warm clothes with you. In case your clothes get wet or incur some damage, you can always replace them.
- Carrying a medical aid kit is very important, especially if you are going on a motorbike tour to Ladakh.