In Leh Ladakh, you never know what wonder nature holds in for you. Pangong Tso Lake in the Changthang region of Ladakh has emerged as one of the most desired places to visit among Indian visitors in recent times especially after the Bollywood movie ‘3 idiots’. Its water, which is blue in color, stands in firm contrast to the dried mountains surrounding it. No one can explain the beauty of the lake in words. It should have seen, felt, and absorbed within yourself. Pangong Lake is one of the world’s highest saltwater lakes.
The lake is 134 km (83 mi) long and made up of five sub-lakes called Pangong Tso, Tso Nyak, Rum Tso (twin lakes) and Nyak Tso, attached through confined water channels. The name Pangong Tso only referred to the westernmost lake that is majorly in Ladakh. Route passes the Ladakh Range through Chang La at a dizzying 5,360 meters above sea level. Approximately 50% of the length of the overall lake lies within Tibet, 40% in Ladakh and the rest is disputed but controlled by China.
The color of Pangong Lake in Leh and Ladakh keeps changing; it is the one reason that makes the Pangong Tso lake famous. Pangong Lake is at a distance of about 200 Km from Leh city in the Himalayan range. It is about six hours drive southeast of Leh city.
Things to consider before going to Pangong
One of the highest lakes within the world, Pangong Tso Lake is one among the most well-liked names in Leh Ladakh tourism. The far-famed and sparkling blue Pangong lake is close to Leh-Ladakh within the himalayas, roughly at the height of 4350 meters. Due to lake high altitude, it freezes fully during winters and the temperature here ranges between -5 to 10°C in winters. Clearly, this is not the best time to visit Pangong lake as you will miss the enjoyment.
Pangong is at one of the highest altitudes in Ladakh, and you may suffer from high altitude sickness while staying for the night there. Please read how to avoid acute mountain sickness in Ladakh so that you can handle AMS better. Those who want to visit Pangong Lake and choose their accommodations will find a wide variety available, ranging from basic homestays to Premium tented camps.
Due to the strategic location of Pangong Tso Lake, foreign nationals need to obtain an Inner Line Permit (ILP) to visit this captivating lake in Ladakh. Also, visitors are allowed only till the limits of the Spangmil Village near the lake. Though boating or any other water activities are restricted, visitors can enjoy camping beside the Pangong Tso Lake and enjoy its magical beauty.
What is the best time to visit Pangong Lake
Best time to visit Pangong Lake is from June to September. The most fascinating thing during winter is to walk on the frozen Pangong Lake. However, after October till January, all the accommodation packs up, and the only nearest place you can stay is either in some homestay with basic amenities to fight the severe cold or in some guest house which is not near to Lake. May to September is a more convenient time to go, with June and July being the peak tourist months. During this time, the temperature starts getting milder and the atmosphere becomes clear; visitors can enjoy astounding views of the lake and its vicinity. If you want to avoid a large crowd then avoid these two peak months.
How to Reach Pangong lake
There is no airport around the Pangong Lake. The nearest airport from Pangong Lake is at Kusho Bakula Rinpoche Airport, Leh-Ladakh. Leh is well connected with other famous places in India. Regular interval flights connect Leh with Delhi, Jammu and Srinagar. The closest international airport to Pangong Lake is the Srinagar International Airport.
The closest railway station to Pangong Tso is the Srinagar Railway Station, at a distance of 385 km. You can hire a taxi to Pangong Lake after reaching the Srinagar Railway Station. The nearest major Railway station is Jammu Railway Station, at a distance of 900 Kms from Pangong Lake. It is connected by the major cities like New Delhi, Lucknow, Chennai, Kanyakumari, Ahmedabad, and Mumbai.
Pangong is 200 Kms from Leh City, 410 Kms from Kargil, 485 Kms from Manali. It can be reached after approximately five to six hours drive from Leh City. From Leh, one passes through the Changla Pass and then through Tangste. Regular bus services run by Jammu and Kashmir State Road Transport Corporation (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 Lake.