A Unique Symbol of Nature's Craftsmanship.
Pangong Tso, located on the Changtang plateau in eastern Ladakh, is truly a traveller's delight. Situated at a height of about 4250 m (about 14,256 feet above sea level), the Pangong Lake is the highest lake in the world. The nearby area is calm and clear. With a length of 130 km and width of 7 km, it is one of biggest lakes in Asia. The lake and the nearby area comprises of a wonderful green valley. The surrounding mountains seem to be painted with green, violet and brown colours in the bright sun. The 160 km trip to Pangong Lake from Leh begins from Thiksey village.
After the Treaty of Tingmosgang signed between Deldan Namgyal, the king of Ladakh and the Regent of Tibet, the Pangong Lake was divided between Ladakh and Tibet in 1684. But today, the lake is shared by India and China. One third of the Pangong Lake is in India.
Relevance to the Indian Army
There are five army check posts on the road to Pangong Tso. At Darbuk village, near Tangste Valley, one can find a few army bunkers and trenches that are highly active. The main attraction here is the chain of war memorials in commemoration of the soldiers who lost their lives during the Indo-Chinese war of 1962.
The lake and its surroundings are completely under army surveillance. It was only a few years back that the government decided to open it to tourists.
Flora and Fauna
Animals like yaks and mountain cows can be seen in the sandy area. Besides, the local people/shepherds use the greenlands as grazing grounds for thier domestic animals. The lake is popular for the black necked Siberian crane, bar-headed geese and waterfowl. Several other migratory bird species can also be spotted at the lake.
Chang La Pass
Located at 17,350 feet, this is the third-highest motorable pass in the world. This adventurous place is visited for the picteresque views it provides. Chang La Pass is also a popular destination for trekking.
The lake and the nearby area has a historical significance too. One can find a number of small gompas/monasteries and rock inscriptions, which are believed to be more than 1000 years old.
There is an institute that imparts training in various adventure sports like mountaineering, trekking, skiing, rock climbing etc.
How To Access
Thiksey village, famous for its huge monasteries, is the starting point of the Pangong lake. There is nothing beyond this remote village but the extreme mountain ridge for miles. First of all, one needs to travel 30 km down the Manali-leh highway to reach Karu, from where one's papers and documents are verified.
The green lush valley of Pangong is about 113 km from Karu.
The crystal clear water of the lake produces different colours reflecting the bright sunlight. Bands of blue, green, purple, violet, orange and red colours can be seen on the surface, like a rainbow, making the lake appear like a painted canvas. The area is covered with giant peaks (about 6400 m).