Let the blue sky meet the blue sea and all is blue for a time.
– Moncy Barbour
The Blue skies, the blue lake and we….. Pangong had a tranquil and relaxing effect on us like blue topaz and inspired us as well. The vast and azure waters of Pangong were enough to mesmerize us and renewed our love for each other. Well, blue has always been my favourite colour….
Pangong Tso is about 160 km from Leh. To reach Pangong you have to cross world’s third highest motorable pass, the Chang La (17586 ft) which is guarded by the Indian Army as it is very near to China. So, we started our journey towards the Pangong Lake at 6.00 am in the morning from Leh with our driver Kader Bhai. Very soft spoken and gentle, he was not only our guide, but was like a guardian towards us.
After a drive of an hour or so, we reached Karu village. We could see various monasteries till here. From Karu, the uphill road begins. A few kilometers from Karu the roads were good, but as the climb to Chang La began the conditions of the roads deteriorated with potholes and dangerous curves. The temperature also fell drastically and so did the level of oxygen making us realize that we are gaining height. Chang La is the third highest motorable pass in the world. We could see the majestic snow capped ranges from the Chang La. There is an army outpost at Chang La which serves complimentary tea to anyone who crosses the Chang La. We started our descent after having tea and interaction with the army jawans.
The conditions of the road were pretty bad as we descended from the Chang La and at some places there were no roads at all !!! After the descent, the condition of roads improved a lot and so did the landscape. The barren terrain was replaced by picturesque meadows with streams flowing beside us. The varied wildlife of Ladakh was also seen here. We saw huge yaks grazing as well as the funny looking marmot. It was here we saw the Royal Enfield bike team riding towards Pangong Lake.
We were happily looking at yaks and marmots when suddenly a stretch of blue appeared before us in between some hills. Well that was the Pangong for us. As our car took turns, the Pangong too took turns to play hide and seek with us. Another travel of 15 minutes and then we could see the vastest stretch of azure waters in front of our eyes. Leh will never fail to mesmerize us. After the Nubra, now it’s the Pangong.
Pangong lake is shared between India and China. Only 40% of the lake lies in India. Our imagination failed to visualize the actual size of the Pangong. The blue lake surrounded by yellow mountains is a paradise to any wanderlust’s eyes. Brahmini ducks were seen in abundance. It is also their paradise…!!! We travelled towards the stretch of the lake which had been made so famous by the Bollywood movie 3 Idiots.
We travelled further towards the Spagmik village, the farthest village in Pangong. We had decided to stay the night at Pangong in a tent which was quite luxurious and very near to the lake. The lake could be seen just as we come out of the tent.
The crystal clear waters of the Pangong shines in many shades of blue depending upon its depth and with the sunlight. At one point we stared at the lapis lazuli, while the azure waters lapped at our feet in the next.
The emerald green shades were also added to the charm. Sitting in front of the Pangong Lake, we forgot all our worries. All our worldly thoughts went into oblivion. We could appreciate the beauty of nature to the fullest.
As the sun began to set, the blue waters seem to fade into a dull colour. The night was equally charming. The vast sky was dotted with numerous stars and the dim lights at the campsites looked amazing. A campfire beside the beautiful lake and under the starry sky with travelers with their various stories completed our day.
Pangong Tso is located about 170 Km from Leh town of Ladakh district.
Pangong Tso is one of the high altitudes lakes of India at a staggering altitude of 4350 Meters or 14270 Feet.
Leh – Karu – Sakti – Chang La – Durbuk – Tangste – Lukung – Spangmik
Tents are available at the lake side. There are hotels at the Spagmik village for staying overnight.
Petrol Pumps and ATMs:
Nearest petrol pump is at Karu about 135 km from Pangong.
No ATMs are found near the Pangong. It is better to carry cash.
Visiting the Pangong Tso is an experience itself. The heady mix of the rough and barren Chang La with the serene blue waters of the Pangong against the backdrop of the mountains is irresistible. You should not miss Pangong. It is recommended to spend a day at Pangong to realise the true beauty of the place. Otherwise, Pangong is doable in one day itself from Leh.
Please feel free to post any queries or doubts in the comment section. If you have been to Pangong, please share your experiences and information with us.