Far away in the barren cold lands of Ladakh, nestled among the Himalayas, situated at a height of 4250 meters, is, Pangong Tso, one of the largest brackish lakes in Asia. (‘Tso’ means Lake in Tibetan language).
In a Mahindra XUV, being driven by our able driver named Thupstan, it took us over 4 hours to reach this awe-inspiring destination from the town of Leh. There are no petrol pumps along the way so ensure that you leave Leh with your tank full.
When we visited Pangong Lake, we needed an ‘Inner Line Permit’ to visit this place, situated close to the ‘Line of Actual Control’,between India snd China; but since 1st May 2014, Indian Tourist or Indian Nationals, can just present their valid Photo ID Nationality Proof at the ITBP/Army check-posts along with a copy of a Self declaration form that is available online to visit Inner Line Areas of Ladakh.
On our way to Pangong, we crossed Chang La which at 17,590 ft is the third highest motorable pass in India. At the pass there is a shrine dedicated to Chang La baba after whom the pass is also named. The Indian army serves (much-desired) hot tea here free of cost to all travellers..
As heavy-earth-movers obstructed our way, we observed BRO (Border Roads Organisation) personnel who were on-duty here repairing a stretch of road, post the recent landslides. We requested a glimpse of their all-weather bunkers and were lucky to be granted permission.
While most people do a day (to-and-fro) trip from Leh to Pangong, we chose to stay overnight in the Tents at the MarTseMik Camping Resort which is at the edge of the lake, to your left, some distance away from the Indian Army souvenir shop at Pangong.
Do stop by at this Souvenir shop from where I bought the a metallic wall hanging bearing the ‘8 Lucky Tibetan signs’ and a warm shawl made of Yak wool.
Made famous by the Bollywood Movie ‘3 Idiots‘, the 134km long Pangong Tso that extends from India to China was a sight to behold!
Since 3/4th of the lake lies in China, we could see motorboats of the Indian Army patrolling the lake.
A spontaneous interaction with a young Army officer on his evening run on the road that runs through the periphery of the lake revealed that his previous posting was in the harsh environs of Siachen and having survived there, he proudly believed that he could now live anywhere on the planet, and won’t mind staying at Pangong forever!
Wishing him the very best for his life ahead serving the nation, we continued with our walk by the Lakeside through the evening – mesmerised as we were by the interplay of sun and shadows falling on the lake.
I took a barefoot walk into the lake stepping on stones by the side and picked up some stones and a log of wood as my memorabilia.
Later that evening, I spent some quiet time watching the family of Brahmini ducks with the Mom being trailed by her obedient set of ducklings.
The camp where we retreated for the night was powered by solar panels and as the sun set on Pangong Lake, its beautiful restaurant-tent was lit up to host a dinner for us.
With the strong winds hammering the walls of my tent later at night, I was ready to be blown away…and though the tents stood their ground, Pangong Lake with its beauty and splendour, surely did blow me away!
Credits: Background music in this photostory is credited to www.bensound.com