Pangong Tso Lake

Pangong Tso: Lake that extends from Ladakh (India) to Tibet
Pangong Tso: Lake that extends from Ladakh (India) to Tibet

Pangong Tso is a lake of breathtaking beauty in Ladakh, lying just about 160 km from Leh. A nearly 5 hour drive from Leh is a wonderful journey in itself, which first passes through huge monasteries and then a vast expanse of endless mountain range and finally cuts through the Changla Pass- the third highest pass in the world which has access to motor vehicles.

About Pangong Tso Lake

Pagong Tso means long, narrow, enchanted lake in the Tibetan language. It is situated at the height of about 4,350m, and measures nearly 134 km in length, though, at its widest it is just 5 km. Despite the fact that the lake is full of brackish water, it freezes to a depth of several meters in winter season. The lake changes in color during the day, appearing deepest hues of blue when the sun is high, a turquoise shade near the bank and deeper hues in the middle of the lake. It loses its shades and turns dull as the day progresses with the sun moves towards the horizon.

Pangong Tso Lake
Pangong Tso Lake

The salt water of the lake does not support life; hence we do not find fish or other form of aquatic life in the lake, other than few micro-vegetation and small crustaceans. Amazingly, many ducks and gulls have made the lake and its surrounding their habitat; in addition, it acts as a breeding ground for both the local and migratory birds. Some important birds that are spotted by tourists near the lake are the Bar-headed goose and Brahmini ducks. Some are lucky to spot wild animals like the kiang, a wild ass and Marmot which is a large brownish rodent of the squirrel family that lives on the ground and in burrows around the lake. The marshes around the lake have various species of shrubs and perennial herbs. Another spot of tourist attraction is the Khurnak Fort which lies halfway across the lake, on the northern bank.

Getting there via Changla Pass

As important as the visit to the lake is the 5 hour drive to it from Leh which runs through the one of the highest mountain roads in the world. While getting there, the tourist passes through the villages of Shey and Gya and goes across the Changla Pass where they can see the army sentries. It also houses a small tea house. During the journey the tourist can view barley fields which are the main diet of people living in this extremely harsh environment at 4000 meters above sea level.

The narrow and snaky road of Changla can be dangerous. It rises steeply on one side, and on the other there is a steep drop into the valley. Unfortunately, though highly required for safety, there are no rails or barriers guarding against the fall of the vehicle. The drive at this part has to be careful; overtaking without careful participation of both the drivers should be avoided at any cost.
After Changla, the road passes through Tangste and many other small villages which dot the hills. After the villages, the road runs across a deserted area which is just bare rocks and dusts. The tourist is blessed with the views of beautiful snow filled mountains laden. The road going down from the Changla pass crosses a river by name ‘The Crazy Stream’.

Leh Ladakh

The first glimpse of the lake is breathtaking for tourists who stand in awe looking at the large mass of deep blue water body shining against the yellowish brown mountains, which are at times dusted with white snow.

As the lake lies on the Indo-China border, the security is a bit high for tourists. The line of control of India and China passes right across the lake, which has made Pangong Tso a disputed area. Permits and passports have to be shown here before entering the secure area, also for the reason of security, boating on the lake is not permitted. Tourists are allowed to go only up to the Merak village.

It is open to tourists from May to September. You can buy cheap tickets to Leh Airport from Delhi. Indian security at the place is very high, due to continuous incursions from Chinese. The lake will be soon identified as a wetland of international importance.

The beautiful, tranquil lake is not just a tourist spot; it is often visited by geologists from all over the world for its uniqueness.

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36 thoughts on “Pangong Tso Lake”

  1. Lovely pictures and a wonderful description of the Pangong Tso Lake 🙂 Our blog seems to have a lot of information about our country. Glad that I dropped by 🙂

  2. Hi Shalu jee

    I don’t really like travelling but after seeing and reading about the lake, I am really tempted to book my tickets and visit the place.

    Thanks for sharing this place.


  3. Hi Shalu ji,

    So nice to read about Pangong Tso Lake,the lake is truely amazing.I have been to nanital which have 9 lakes that was really a great place but now i think india have 1 more beautiful lake on mountains.

    Thank You
    Shorya Bist
    From Youthofest

  4. It is amazing place, i wish to go thee one day, i was planning few times to go there but finally it was failed so now i am planning in all details my journey i hope it will be success!

  5. This is such a lovely place. I was planning to backpack around Asia and it looks like I’m making the right choice on this. Thank you for sharing this with us, nice photos by the way.

  6. Hey Shalu,
    I have visited Ladakh and must say Pangtso lake is the jewel of this place. The lake has its own charm and tranquility. This post has even added to the grandeur of this place with such a lovely description. Thanks for sharing such a beautiful review.

  7. Hi Shalu, One of the best Indian landscape images on this site. I was there in Pangong about a decade back but the weather wasn’t kind to me. Here you have made use of the pristine blue sky and the sparkling waters to create this magic. Excellent work.


  8. his is an excellent post. I liked this post very much. All things are described in very excellent way.It is a great information and helps everyone. Congratulations on your work, always with great posts. In myeyes you should keep on such kind of postings for us.The quality of your articles makes me come back frequently and check your website for more articles! In future I would like to come here again for some new and more information. Best of Luck.

  9. I visited Pangong Tso last year as a part of my road trip on my motorcyle from Delhi. I rode from Delhi to Ladakh via Manali and came back via the Srinagar route. Rriding to Pangong Tso was an awe inspiring experience. Crossing Changla was also amazing. I found Changla to be the most beautiful of mountain passes that I crossed during my trip.

  10. Its a Beauty !

    Real Beauty of nature where everything is pure.Suggest us if we do have any chances of bike riding to reach there.

    It will be enormous experience to ride a bike there for bikers.


  11. Its a Beauty !

    Real Beauty of nature where everything is pure.Suggest us if we do have any chances of bike riding to reach there.

    It will be enormous experience to ride a bike there for bikers.


  12. Hey,

    Its really appreciated.Most of people in india itself don’t know how to go leh and what places are there to visit, to see extreme beauty of nature.You have mentioned everything in detail which is useful tips for ppl those are planning to travel.

    Good Going madam,

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