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pangong tso
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Pangong Tso, or simply Pangong Lake, makes one of the most memorable visits during your journey to Ladakh. This saline water lake has several interesting elements that make it unique and captivating. Amongst some of the interesting features of Pangong Lake is its attribute of varying shades which is openly visible. The lake is situated at the height of 4350 meters, one of the highest located lakes of the world. More than 130 kilometers long, the major portion of this lake lies in Tibet, which is controlled by China. By standing at the shore of the lake, one can see several hills and mountains at the other side of the lake that reside in China.


You have to make an early morning start for your visit to Pangong, as most of the tourists prefer returning back to Leh by nightfall. Thanks to the longer duration of days in Upper North of India during summers that you can comfortably make the ten hour journey, to and fro, excluding the time you will spend site-seeing. Once you start, the journey to Pangong Tso, like most of the travels in Ladakh, takes you through thrilling and interesting territories; the highlight being the Changla Pass. Debatably, it is the third highest motorable pass in the world. Depending upon weather, you may or may not have to pass through snowfall, but heavily snow laden territories are a sure thing you will meet while crossing Chang La. The pass takes you from a height of 5360 meters, the elevation you should brave only after properly acclimatizing at Leh. Mostly occupied by the military, there is also a tea shop here that offers hot refreshments in the chilly surroundings.


The landscapes change time to time as you descend down the Chang La Pass and move further on your journey. You pass through a village settlement named Tangste, where it is suggested that you have your lunch. Though most tourists prefer bringing packed lunch from the hotel, eating at one of the home-run inns at Tangste, at the hands of warm and hospitable Ladakhi housewives, could be a good experience. If you are planning a day trip to Pangong, you can also have your lunch on the way back from the lake.


Right after Chang La you keep looking out the window of your vehicle as the intriguing views of barren mountains, a rare village and finally the fabulous marshlands before Pangong keep you interested all the way. Wild horses grazing here at the backdrop of picturesque hills make wonderful frames. This is also a popular place to spot Ladakhi Marmots, the interesting rodent-like creatures large enough to match small dogs. If you keep an eye at the terrain passing by you may see marmots standing on their hind legs or peeping through their holes. Further up you witness some breathtaking views of the uniquely textured mountains in this region and the plains stretched before them.


You get the first glimpse of Pangong Tso from a pass between two high hills. As you arrive before the wide stretch of Pangong Lake, you gaze in wonder at this beautiful place nodding to all the praise you have heard before. Thongs of tourist mostly gather at a narrow ramp-like formation of land that runs into the lake. The view of high hills rising out of the multi-shaded Pangong at the other side is mesmerizing. Devoid of any pollution, the clear blue water of Pangong, in which you can see the land disappear several feet away, is a rare site these days. Though nearly 60% of Pangong lies in China, what’s in India is also a large portion. On a cloudy day, you may be stirred by a chilly breeze, but if it happens to be a sunny day, you will surely want to stay here a little longer.


Pangong being a salt water lake does not support vegetation or much of aquatic life. However, you may spot small fish at the shore as well as lots of water birds. Brahmni Ducks and Seagulls are commonly seen here. Apart from Marmots, the surrounding region is also known to house Kiangs, which, however, could be hard to spot.


There is a camping site on the shore of Pangong, but only the hardcore enthusiasts choose to stay here, as the weather gets harsh after nightfall. However, if you wish to see the sunset and the sunrise the next morning, staying is the only option you have. But ensure as well as you can that the weather will not play a spoilsport. The lone eatery or two near Pangong is also not very attractive and packed food is the best option if you want to enjoy a meal while enjoying the view of the lake.


Reaching Pangong requires a permit, which your travel agent will acquire for you. Littering is considered to be a serious offense in this naturally beautiful territory. The military camp several kilometers before the lake accepts the litter and garbage that you are supposed to save with you until the proper disposal.


This harsh but beautiful lake is a paradise for landscape photographers and an unforgettable place to visit for the general tourists. You may spend only an hour or half at Pangong before embarking on the five hour journey to Leh, but you will surely cherish the experience for the rest of your life.


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Quick Reference

Pangong Tso Lake is an extra ordinary lake that lies in both Tibet and India. The most interesting feature of this lake is the variation of the shades of its water. Situated at a height of 4350 meters, this lake is one of the highest located lakes in the world. A permit is required to reach Pangong Tso. On the way to Pangong, you need to go through the Chang La pass followed by a settlement called Tangste. Animals like wild horses, Ladakhi marmots can also be seen on the way to Pangong. Birds like Brahmni ducks and Seagulls are commonly seen here. The shore of Pangong has a camping site, a good option for hardcore enthusiasts. This lake is a treat for landscape photographers. Ladakh tour minus a Pangong Tso visit is incomplete.


Destination Grade: B (What is this?)
Rating: 8/10
Airport: Leh
Railway station: Nearest railway station is at Jammu.
Nearest Major City(s): Leh
How to reach:

You can hire a motorcycle or a taxi from Leh or take a bus run by J&K SRTC. Local taxis also can be hired

Major Tourist Attraction: Chang La Pass, Monastery, Lake.
Speciality(Famous for): Varying colors of the Lake
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193 votes
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Total Reviews : 7
Reviews by users : (7)
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Road Trip To Pangong - by Adam Parera Dated : 2011-11-17
Like most of the people do, even I traveled from Leh to Pangong Tso Lake by road. It was a highly rough, dramatic and engaging journey for me. Though I had heard a lot about the beauty of the lake, I was keen on experiencing the joy of seeing it for the first time. For enjoying every moment of the drive, I requested my driver that we early in the morning from Leh. We left at 7 in the morning, it was a bit chilly. I must say I just loved the roads, they were far better than I expected them to be. You need to cross the Chang La pass that is at an altitude 5360 meters. Then I came across this small village, Tangste, a small settlement near the Chang La pass where I had my lunch. I suggest that you get your lunch packed from you hotel, it is always a better option. Finally we reached Pangong by noon. The lake is unbelieving beautiful. Do not miss a visit to this lake if you have a day to spare while your stay at Leh.
Pangong Beauty - by  Vitthal Kawate Dated : 2011-11-15
Pangong is drive away distance from Leh. We visited Pangong while we were on our Ladakh tour. Our travel agent arranged for our to and fro visit to Pangong Tso. We drove early in the morning for Pangong from Leh. It is a five hour drive if you leave at correct time. The roads were really in a good condition and we reached the lake just before noon. The journey was a long one but the beautiful mountains, colorful Himalayan birds, and the pashmina goats kept the landscape pleasant. Looking out of the window of the car was also special. The lake is very attractive and changes colors. We did not have much to walk on its shore because we had to get back to Leh and leave for home the next afternoon. We clicked a lot of pictures of the lake and left for our hotel at Leh happily.
Amazing Pangong Lake - by  John Patric Dated : 2011-11-12
If you are in Leh and you do not visit the lakes around it, your trip will remain incomplete. There are three saline water lakes around Leh, all of them are just amazing. But my personal favorite is the Pangong Tso Lake. Situated at an altitude of 4350 meters, this is lake is spectacular.
I and 2 of my friends had booked our tents at Spangmik, a small settlement at the shore of the Pangong Lake. The bookings must be made in advance and you must take woolens with you because it gets chilly at night. We left for Pangong from Leh at around 10 in the morning and reached Pangong at around 3 in the afternoon. The roads were fine except for the final hour.
We stayed at Spangmik for 2 nights and the experience was amazing. We sat for hours gazing at the lake changing its colors now and then. The facilities at the tents were basic and the food that was served was satisfactory. However, the altitude sickness disturbed us for a night. We found it difficult to breather and sleep. Our stay at the lake was exhilarating.
Beautiful Pangong - by  Sara Collet Dated : 2011-11-10
Beautiful is the only word that comes to my mind to define Pangong Tso. It is just 5 hours away from Leh and so it is comfortable to go and see this lake. It is advisable that you leave early in the morning from Leh for Pangong because slowly the traffic starts building on the road that leads you to Pangong. On your way to the lake you shall come across the Chang La Pass which is situated at a height of 17590 feet and is said to be the highest motor able road in the world. I and my friend took several pictures at the Chang La Pass in front of the board which read its altitude. It was really nice to be at such an altitude.
As we moved towards Pangong, we saw yaks grazing and serene ice clad mountains around. When we first set our eyes on the lake, we were stunned by the beauty of it. The changing colors of the lake look magical and the mountains surrounding the lake are devoid of any vegetation for some shrubs and wild flowers.
Really it was an amazing to visit this lake that changes colors.
The Exquisite Pangong Lake - by Malti Desai  Dated : 2011-03-10
Our trip to the Pangong was planned by one of my colleagues and the most interesting thing about the plan was that it was an all ladies trip. It was a group of 8 ladies and I think it was the best time of my life that I spent without my family.

We took a flight from Delhi to reach Leh. We had booked rooms in a popular hotel a good three months ago. It is always advisable that you do the needful bookings beforehand because during the touring season you may not get rooms. But if you are lucky you may even get it on the spot, like we got an extra room on the spot to fit in our luggage that had a lot of woolen garments.

We needed quite some time to get acquainted with the high altitude and the thin air. After two days of rest, we moved around Leh, saw the Leh Palace and the monasteries nearby. And finally on the fourth day of the tour we left to see the Pangong Tso Lake. It took almost five hours for us to reach Pangong, we had left early in the morning in the biting cold because we needed to get back to Leh before nightfall.

Our travel agent in Leh had arranged our permits and we had hired a well versed driver to drive us to Pangong. On our way to Pangong we went through the Chang La pass, the third highest motorable road in the world. Then we passed thorugh a decent settlement called Tangste where we had our lunch, gossiping and looking around at the beautiful landscape.

Finally at noon we reached Pangong and we just kept looking at the lake as if it was something made up of gold or even something more precious. The lake is eye catching and the changing shades of its water make it look like something magical. We saw various birds around the lake, though it is a salt water lake. Far beyond the lake are China and Tibet territories. We took a lot of photographs here and had a great time. By late evening we were back at our hotel.

Anyone planning a trip to Ladakh and rest of Jammu and Kashmir must not miss visiting this exceptionally beautiful lake.
Pangong Lake Trip - by Rani Kapoor  Dated : 2011-03-06
Pangong is a very beautiful lake in Ladakh. I visited Pangong in the Jully of 2010 and its memories are still fresh in my mind. I went there with the group from my office and enjoyed the visit. We had applied a lot of sun screen lotion to our hands and faces, but there was hardly any sun when we went there. The temperature was chilly. But the view of the lake was very nice. We could see its different shades. We went to the lake where the final scene from the movie three idiots was filmed. I had wanted to come here ever since I had seen the film.

Pangong is situated at a very high altitude and said to be the only lake at that height. China and Tibet is not very far from here. There were many other people who had parked their cars near the lake and were having fun. After spending some time at the first location, we drove along the lake to another location. It was as far as the tourists were allowed to go. The view of the lake was different from here and the mountains beyond the lake looked very beautiful.

It was a wonderful trip and we had a lot of fun.
Best Place by Water in the World - Pangong Lake - by Raunak Singh  Dated : 2011-03-06
We went to Pangong Lake in Ladakh in a group of 13 friends. This is one of the best places in world. Unfortunately, our friend Sukhbir could not join us as he had suffered from AMS and was being treated in Leh. After making sure that he was going to be okay, we continued on our plan to go to Pangong and left early in the morning. The road to Pangong goes from Changla Pass which is very exciting. It can get very cold here as all the region in the proximity is full of snow. But once you pass Changla pass, the temperature rises a little, but only just a little.

We reached Pangong on a sunny noon around 11 pm. I had heard a lot about this place the earlier day, but what I saw was definitely much more. The mountains and plain grounds in this region look very different than everywhere and are very nice to look at. The lake has a very clean and nice water, and very cold. We were told that this lake is frozen in the winters. We had a great fun here. Some of us dared to take our shoes off and stepped into the water. It was a mistake as the water was freezy cold and some of us caught cold instantly. It is a good idea to only stand at the shore of this lake and enjoy its beauty. And if the wind gets chilly, you can walk back to your car and relax in the warmth of the heater.

Our driver, Zubair Bhai, told us that China border is not very far from here and sometimes people wander off in China. But this region, even if it is very beautiful, does not look livable. We could only imagine how cold it must get during the nights and how tough the ever blowing winds must make it then to be here.

There are no restaurants here. The lunch we had packed had all gone cold, but we did not mind as the view was very nice, and also the fun that we had in the group was memorable. We posed and took pictures in front of the lake. On our way back, we stopped at a lot of places for pictures. Some times we were also aided by the traffic jams that occur here often as the roads are very narrow.

This was one of the best trips in my life and I plead everyone who goes to Ladakh to go to Pangong Lake.