Pangong Lake in Ladakh

Pangong Lake in Ladakh


The beautiful Pangong Lake also known as the Pangong Tso is located in the Himalayan region and is 134 kms long. The Pangong Lake extends from India to China. The lake is situated at a height of nearly 4350 metres. The Pangong Lake is one of the biggest tourist attractions of our country. This exquisite and aesthetic lake has attracted tourists only from different corners of our country but also from all over the world. Under the influence of government policies and agreements, the lake is believed to be in a process of being identified as a wetland with international significance under the Ramsar Convention and if it goes that direction, the Pangong Lake will be considered the first in South Asia to become a trans-boundary wetland under this convention. The Pangong lake is situated in the Himalayan range and is nearly 140 kms from Leh which is located in Jammu and Kashmir.

The ever-changing colours of Pangong lake set against the intense blue sky make it one of the most spectacular sites in Ladakh. Only 5 hours of driving distance from Leh, this lake is cannot be missed when you are Ladakh. The beauty of this lake against the backdrop of the majestic mountains is one of the most powerful sights in the world as well as the most peace-giving. Pangong Tso brings the depth of nature’s creativity to light in full force and makes you want to bow in reverence before it. You can also indulge yourself in camping around Pangong Lake which will give you some spectacular views of the lake. This is one place you absolutely must visit when in Ladakh.

How To Reach Pangong

By Flight

There is no airport around the Pangong Lake. The closest airport is the Kushok Bakula Rimpochee Airport in Leh at a distance of 142 km. The Kushok Bakula Rimpochee Airport has flights to and from New Delhi, Jammu, Srinagar, and Mumbai. The airlines that operate from this airport are Air India, GoAir, and Jet Airways. The closest international airport to Pangong is the Srinagar International Airport. The Srinagar International Airport is connected to most major Indian cities such as New Delhi, Bangalore, Mumbai, and Chennai. The airport also has flights to and from Jeddah. Airlines that operate from this airport are Air India, GoAir, IndiGo, Jet Airways, SpiceJet, and Vistara.

By Bus

There aren’t too many buses to Pangong. However, this is a good way to get to the Pangong Lake. The best way to get to Pangong Tso by bus is to catch one in Leh. The buses to Pangong Tso leave Leh at 6:30 AM every Saturday and Sunday. The buses from Pangong return the next day. Bus tickets cost around Rs 256. Leh is connected to Srinagar via bus. The Jammu and Kashmir State Road Transport Corporation has deluxe as well as ordinary buses that ply the route connecting Srinagar to Leh on a regular basis.

Journey Suggestion: The roads around Pangong are mostly bad. However, the roads around the village of Lukung are in good condition. Around Spangmik, the roads are not very good. The roads through the rest of the villages are mostly dirt roads. Despite the lack of proper roads, the scenery is breathtaking and should make up for the bumpy roads.

By Train

The closest railway station to Pangong Tso is the Srinagar Railway Station, at a distance of 385 km. There are several trains passing through this railway station plying the route between Banihal and Bagdam. Upon reaching the Srinagar Railway Station, one can hire a taxi to Pangong Tso or catch a bus to Leh to take another bus from Leh to Pangong Tso.

History Of Pangong

The beautiful lake of Pangong, also called Pangong Tso, which means ‘high grassland lake’ in Tibetan, is a part of the border with China. Through the lake, passes the ‘Line of Actual Control’. The eastern part of the lake, which spans 20 km from the Line of Actual Control, is under China’s control. The rest of the lake is a part of India. The Khurnak Fort can be found on the northern bank of the Pangong Tso. The fort, which is now in ruins, has been controlled by the Chinese army since the end of 1958. In 1956, the Chinese government claimed that the border between the two countries left the Khurnak Fort on the Chinese side. In 1960, there were talks regarding the boundary between the Indian and Chinese governments. Records to prove jurisdiction were submitted by the Indian government. One of these records was the Settlement Report on revenue of 1908 that showed the amount of revenue collected at the Khurnak Fort. On October 20, 1962, there were military incursions in the region as a result of the Sino-Indian war.

People Of Pangong

There are a number of villages around Pangong Tso. These include Merak, Spangmik, Man and Lukung. The people living in these cold villages lead simple lives and follow mostly Buddhist traditions and customs. Festivals celebrated here also have a strong Buddhist flavour. The people living in these villages often make a living rearing yaks and goats. The goats are of a special variety, and their fleece is used to make the famous Pashmina wool. The food cooked by the people of these villages around Pangong is basically Ladakhi. Momos or steamed dumplings are popular here. These are usually stuffed with vegetables, meat or cheese. Thukpa, a noodle soup with vegetables and chicken, is one of the most common meal types. Thenthuk, a variation of thukpa, is a noodle soup mixed with vegetables, yak meat, and uneven pieces of wheat. Skyu is another common type of dish that is made from wheat flour, meat, and vegetables. Khambir, a local type of brown bread, is a common side dish with the popular butter tea of the region. Chang, the alcoholic beverage made from millet, is also quite popular among the people.

Language Of Pangong

The people living in villages around Pangong Tso speak the Ladakhi language, which is also called Bhoti. Although Bhoti or Ladakhi finds it origins in the Tibetan language, over time it has grown to be quite different and is presently sound a lot like spoken Tibetan dialect.

Culture Of Pangong

The culture of the people living in the villages close to the lake is quite similar to that of the rest of the district of Leh. There are strong Buddhist influences in the festivals these people celebrate as well as in their traditions and customs. A popular festival that takes place in Pangong occurs in the winter season. As the lake is frozen, ice skating is a popular activity during this festival, and several ice skaters from all over the world visit Pangong during this time. While much of the focus is on ice skating, the culture of the people in this region is on display and attending the festival should be a truly beautiful experience for tourists. Due to Pangong’s proximity to China, it is under army control. To visit this beautiful lake, tourists require permission in the form of a pass from the Deputy Commissioner of Leh.

Pangong Weather

Pangong’s climate ranges from pleasant to cold. The summer season in the region is warm. Summer in Pangong lasts from March to May. Temperatures during these months vary from 8 degree Celsius to 21 degree Celsius. The monsoon season in Pangong begins in July and goes on till September. Heavy rainfall is experienced in the region during these months. Pangong’s winter season is terribly cold, with temperatures ranging between -5 degree Celsius and 10 degree Celsius. The winter season begins in October and ends in February.

What to eat at Pangong Lake, Ladakh

There are a very less option of food varieties near the Pangong Lake, Ladakh. If one expects good food and drinks, you will always need to score from Leh. However the Spagmik village will always help you out with their available food sources but with little more expense. The local food in Spagmik village can also be tasted. But generally restaurants have non vegetarian options generally Tibetan, Chinese, Korean and also with some local food items such as the Tsampa, Skyu, Momos and in drinks you can also get variety of Tea, Coffee, Beer and Chang which is an alcoholic local drink. If one can initiate the camping facilities near the Pangong Lake, you can easily carry some wooden sticks and arrange bonfire. This will help you to cook some boiled food as well as fish or chicken barbeque can also be cooked if one can carry manageable equipments. Though maggi packets are also very useful food source.

Things to do at Pangong Lake

The beauty of Pangong Lake is in itself reason enough to warrant a trip there. However, there are other things to do at Pangong Lake that will keep you excited during the duration of your stay here. One of them is camping. Camping at the Pangong Lake can be an enthralling experience. Build a campfire, get a barbecue going and enjoy the beauty surrounding you – how much better can it get? Although leaving the warmth of your camp is extremely difficult, go ahead and step out. During the night, the stars of the sky shine in all their glory. The feeling you get is that of oneness, of the skies and the universe immersing themselves in you. At dawn, get out of your camp and watch the sunrise. Watch, as the rising sun gradually disperses the darkness and ushers in light. Carry a camera with you, and capture these splendid moments. The route to Pangong Lake is as beautiful as the lake itself. To get a glimpse of this beauty, stop about 10km from Pangong Tso Lake, if you are coming from Leh. You will be greeted by a few signboards saying, “Stop here to see rare endemic species Marmot”. Marmots are large squirrels which are found in mountainous areas and reside in burrows. Despite being quite dodgy, they do come out from their potholes during the day, so there is a good chance of spotting them. An adventure is all about taking on challenges, and being brave enough to try anything unusual. One of the unusual things to do in Pangong Lake is to take a dip in its cold waters. Usually, tourists leave Pangong Lake after sunrise as they have to reach Leh before sunset. Before doing so, take a dip in the lake. Yes, it sounds crazy, and you would be crazy enough to try it. But craziness is what makes an adventure thrilling and memorable.


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