The largest high-altitude Trans-Himalayan lake (of the three great lakes of the Ladakh region), Tso Moriri is situated in the Rushpu valley, lying southeast of Leh within Ladakh’s Changthang Cold Desert Sanctuary, which covers an area of 4,000 sq km, at altitudes between 14,000 to 19,000 ft. This Sanctuary is situated in the western region of the Great Changthang Plateau of Tibet, a surreal and spectacular spread of land that can easily resemble a pop music video.
Situated at an altitude of 4,552 meters and spreading over an area of 19 km (with a width of about 7mk), Tso Moriri is fed by springs and snowmelt which create extensive marshes around it. It is guarded by high mountain peaks towering over 18,000 ft on its northern and eastern sides. These include two of the highest mountains in Ladakh─Lungser Kangri and Chamser Kangri─ that are often climbed by daredevils and adrenaline junkies.
While the general route taken from Leh to Tso Moriri goes through Karu and Kumdog to reach Chumathang (famous for the boiling hot sulfur springs by the icy cold Indus river), from where one proceeds to Mahe, followed by Korzok, finally reaching yours truly. However, people often prefer driving here straight from Pangong Tso and then proceeding on to Manali through the Leh-Manali road.
Remaining frozen from January to March every year, it starts to thaw in spring, becoming open to tourists in the following months. However, since it is secluded and relatively untouched, not everyone includes a trip to this lake in their itinerary. However, it is safe to say that hours of driving through dirt and uneven, rocky fields is worth the unbelievably picturesque and spell-bounding sight that is Tso Moriri. Serene, mysterious and magnetic are just some words that accurately describe this beauty. In addition to its mesmerizing color palette and versatile landscape that magically transforms throughout the day and night, the area boasts of some wide variety of rare, exotic birds such as the bar-headed goose, black-necked crane, the waterfowl and the ruddy shelduck. Kiangs, Marmots, and foxes are found lazing near the waters.
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