Pangong Tso Lake Travel Guide

pangong lake

Pangong Lake also known as Pangong Tso is a beautiful endorheic lake situated in the Himalayas and is 134 km long, extending from India to China. Pangong Lake is situated at a height of 4350 m and is one of the biggest tourist attractions of the country. The beauty and allure of this lake has attracted people from all over the country and beyond. 

A lake is a landscape’s most beautiful and expressive feature. It is Earth’s eye; looking into which the beholder measures the depth of his own nature.

If you remember the scene from the movie 3 Idiots when Kareena Kapoor comes riding on a scooter to meet Aamir Khan, then you have already seen the scenic beauty of the picturesque Pangong Tso or Pangong Lake. Pangong Tso-lake in Changthang region of Ladakh has emerged as one of the most wanted places to visit among domestic tourists in recent times especially after the Bollywood blockbusters “3 idiots” and “Jab Tak Hai Jaan”.

The Word Pangong is derived from a Tibetan word Banggong Co which means “long, narrow, enchanted lake”. Pangong Lake is an endorheic lake in the Himalayas situated at a height of about 4,350 m (14,270 ft). Pangong Tso is geographically situated in a disputed territory, claimed both by India and China.

The eastern end of the lake is in Tibet and is not claimed by India. The western end of the lake is not in dispute. This beautiful multi-shaded ocean like lake is about 5 KM wide at its broadest point and about 134 KM long with about 60% of the length extending into Tibet.

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Pangong Tso is about five hours drive from Leh in Ladakh region of Jammu & Kashmir. The route passes through beautiful Ladakh countryside, over Chang La, the third highest Motorable mountain pass (5289 m) in the world. The road crosses the villages of Shey and Gya and traverses the Changla pass.

Road down from Changla Pass leads through Tangste and other smaller villages, crossing river called Pagal Naala also known as “The Crazy Stream”. The color of water is always changing with the weather condition. The water sparkles in distinct shades of blue, green, purple, and violet, being transparent to a good depth.

Pangong Lake in Kashmir is the world’s highest brackish lake at 14,256 feet above sea level. In winter the lake freezes completely, despite being saline water. The Briny or Brackish water lake does not support vegetation or aquatic life except for some small crustaceans.

However, there are many water birds. The lake acts as an important breeding ground for a large variety of migratory birds like Brahmani Ducks, Rare black necked cranes and Seagulls. One can also spot Ladakhi Marmots, the rodent-like creatures which can grow up to the size of a small dog. Pangong is a remote area.

The only way to communicate with the outside world is through a satellite phone at the army camp nearby. Beauty of Pangong Tso cannot be described but can only be experienced. The lake mesmerizes one and all with its shimmering beauty. In simple words, we can say Pangong Lake is “Turquoise Blue Paradise”.

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How to reach Pangong Lake

BY AIR

Leh is well connected with other important places in India. Regular flights link Leh with Delhi, Jammu and Srinagar.

BY TRAIN

Kalka and Jammu Tawi is the nearest railway station to Leh. Buses or taxis can be hired to reach Manali via Shimla. There are regular taxis and bus services from Manali, Jammu Tawi to Leh.

BY ROAD

Pangong Tso can be reached after a a five-hour drive from Leh. From Leh, one passes through the Changla Pass and then through Tangste. There are regular bus services run by state road transport corportation (J&KSRTC). Taxis can be hired from Leh to the Pangong Lake. Motorbikes, cars and jeeps are also available at reasonable rates. Make sure to fill fuel at Leh and also carry extra fuel, as there are no petrol stations near Pangong Tso.

Pangong Lake Permit 

Since the enthralling Pangong Lake falls on the Sino-Indian Actual Line of Control, an inner line permit is required to visit it. The Indian Nationals can easily obtain individual permits while other foreign nationals need to obtain a group permit, with at least 3 persons in the group, accompanied by an accredited guide. The permit can be obtained at the tourist office in Leh, for a small fee.

Pangong Lake Weather & Best Time to Visit 

It is best to visit this lake in summers, precisely from June to September, as in winter, due to its extreme weather and high altitude, the vacation would not be as enjoyable and the lake would be frozen as well. A visit in summer will open an avenue to witness different migratory birds and other flora fauna.

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Tips For Visiting Pangong Lake 

1. It is advised to carry more and sufficient warm clothes to withstand the cold weather.
2. It is an ecologically fragile place where littering is a serious offence. Kindly dispose your waste wisely.
3. For security reasons, boating at the lake is not permitted.
4. An inner line permit is required to visit Pangong lake. The permit will be easily available at the Dc’s office in Leh by submitting an application. It is preferred to carry 5-6 copies of the permit as it has to be submitted at various check points