Friday Photo : Pangong Tso Lake – Ladakh


This week’s Friday Photo comes from Pangong Tso Lake in Ladakh taken by Aritra Dhua

Pangong Tso, Tibetan for “long, narrow, enchanted lake”, also referred to as Pangong Lake, is an endorheic lake in the Himalayas situated at a height of about 4,350 m (14,270 ft). It is 134 km (83 mi) long and extends from India to Tibet. Approximately 60% of the length of the lake lies in Tibet. The lake is 5 km (3.1 mi) wide at its broadest point. All together it covers 604 km. During winter the lake freezes completely, despite being saline water.

Remember the scene from the movie 3 Idiots when Kareena Kapoor comes riding on a scooter to meet Aamir Khan? Those of you who have seen the movie, already have seen the scenic beauty of the picturesque Pangong Tso or Pangong Lake. Situated in the upper reaches of Himalayan Mountain range in Leh district of Jammu and Kashmir, the most notable feature of the lake is the ever-changing hues of the lake.

The brackish water of the lake has very low micro-vegetation. Guides report that there are no fish or other aquatic life in the lake, except for some small crustaceans. On the other hand, visitors see numerous ducks and gulls over and on the lake surface. There are some species of scrub and perennial herbs that grow in the marshes around the lake.

The lake acts as an important breeding ground for a variety of birds including a number of migratory birds. During summer, the Bar-headed goose and Brahmini ducks are commonly seen here. The region around the lake supports a number of species of wildlife including the Kiang and the Marmot.

Pangong Tso lies on the Sino-Indian Line of Actual Control and hence requires an Inner Line Permit. Most of the lake is in Chinese-controlled territory. Owing to Pangong’s proximity to the border, tourists are only allowed to visit the lake up to the Spangmik village. For the hardcore adventure lovers, there is a camping site on the shore of Pangong. But do remember that the weather tends to get harsh after dusk. The place is a photographers’ delight and camping is the only option if you wish to see the sunset and the sunrise.

Nights can be very cold at the lake. Do remember to bring warm clothes and a warm sleeping bag. Pack in some snacks and a torch.

Pangong Tso lies in an ecologically fragile area. Littering is a serious offence.  In case, you are unable to find a place to dispose off your rubbish, bring it back with you for recycling or proper disposal.

An Inner Line Permit is required to visit Pangong. The permit is easily obtainable from the DC’s office in Leh by either submitting the application yourself or through a travel agent. It is advisable to carry at least 5-6 copies because the permit is checked and a copy is kept at numerous checkpoints on the route.

If you wish to stay near the shores of the lake then tents are the only option. The choice of stay near and around Pangong Tso is limited. Lukung which is in close proximity to the lake has camping facilities in Eco Huts. Basic accommodation is available in Spangmik, in the only hotel offering rooms as well as luxury tents. Local households also offer accommodation but most of them have shared toilets or toilets outside the house.

Photo Credit : Aritra Dhua

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