Pangong Tso, Tibetan for grassland, also referred to as Pangong, is one of a kind endorheic lake (i.e. has it’s own internal drainage system. How cool is that? Situated at a height of about 4,350. Located it in the Changthang region of Ladakh, It is 134 km long and 6500 hectares wide and extends from India to all the way to China (Tibet Autonomous Region) which is home to about 60% of the lake. Half of Pangong Tso is a beauty enough to attract thousands of tourists every year to this remote location.
For those thirsting for something beyond the “barren” landscape of Ladakh, Pangong Tso is a refreshing break to the eyes, with its blue-green waters that changes shades depending on the time of the day, as if being watched through a kaleidoscope.
Starting off from Leh, one can enjoy tiny detours to the majestic Shey Palace and the tranquil Thiksey Monastery before setting off onto the road that leads to Pangong, traversing through the Chang La Pass, the third highest motorable pass in the world. This path looks particularly spectacular when it snows as the road is swathed with snow-capped mountains on all sides, eerily resembling a Disney movie.
Soon enough the road turns to travel and the well-constructed tar highways disappear as one becomes acutely aware of the remoteness of the location. By the time one reaches Spangmik, the lake is visible as more than a strip of electric blue and is revealed as a wide expanse of shimmering, blue jewels.
The setting of the lake is its main feature, presenting a splendid contrast─ clear, blue lake against the vast expanses of a cold, brown desert. In addition, the shifting clouds and changing skies that are reflected in these flawless waters present a dazzling spectrum of colors that change throughout the day.
While a day trip to Pangong Tso is possible, it is advised to stay overnight and witness the lake in its full glory early in the morning. While some days a roaring breeze causes an upheaval in the usually serene waters of the Pangong, on others, it remains as still as a lazy, noonday. This is probably the best time to capture pictures and indulge in some Bollywood nostalgia owing to the memorable Three Idiots scene shot at this majestic spot, as testimony to which several cafes and hotels go by the movie’s name.
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