The ultimate collection of beauty and the perfect place to have a wonderful stay under the star, Pangong Lake is one of the mesmerizing locations to visit when on the Laddakh trip. It is a saline water glacial lake which is situated at a distance of around 225 Km from the marvelous city of Leh. This beautiful lake is at an altitude of 14270 feet with approx 6 hours traveling distance from Leh town center. Once, you are on a trip to the Laddakh region, Pangong lake is a never to miss destination for you.
Lake is settled amidst the highly snow-clad mountains with normal mercury dipping from -10 degrees to -30 degrees. Despite having saline content, this lake seems to be forming a thick sheet of ice because of this negative temperature.
Why Pangong lake is famous
This lake with an awesome location with high mountains at the backdrop makes this lake further beautiful. The crystal clear water of this lake seems to change its color in every season, which enhances its splendor to the next level. Camping at this splendid Location of this lake under the blue starred sky can be dream come true event for you. Pangong Lake is spread through both the nation of India and China with India controlling 40 percent of its territory. The beauty of this peaceful location is gaining importance day by day and tourists love to halt for a night here in the camps.
Migratory birds visiting this lake every year in the winter season make the spot more important for photographers, bird watchers, and nature lovers. Lake was also portrayed in many Indian movies recently, which acted as a tourism booster for this destination.
Permit to visit Pangong Lake:
As this area located near the border area, it is strategically important for India. Hence before visiting here, you have to obtain permits or can say passes from the authorities. Domestic or Indian tourists need an Inner Line Permit, which can be obtained both offline and online. To have an offline permit, you have to visit the Tourist information center at Leh town or DM office in person. For the foreigner tourists, a protected area Permit is required to visit the Pangong lake which can be obtained online or through registered travel agents.
The inner line permit can be obtained online by visiting the Official Website of Leh District Permit Tracking System. For Indian nationals, the option of ‘Domestic client’ can be clicked and permits will be issued online after filling in the required details. The fees for issuing permits is very nominal at the rate of 420 (400 as environmental fees and 20 as inner line fee).
Best time to visit Pangong Lake
Being located at such a high altitude, this lake gets frozen in the winter season partially. The Winter season in the entire Laddakh region remains harsh and it is not recommended to visit here in this season. The complete region remains covered with thick ice sheets and many places get isolated and can be reached through difficult yet adventurous chadar trekking.
The best time to visit Pangong lake is in the months of May to September when the beauty of the lake remains at its peak. Tourists visit this lake in the winter season also when the lake gets converted into a sheet of ice. People in this season walk over this thick sheet and enjoys this different type of adventure activity.
How to reach Pangong Lake
Pangong lake is 225 Km from Leh town and can be accessed through road only. You can reach leh by road or by air, but from Leh onwards, hitting the road is the only available option. There are many available routes to reach this beautiful lake from Leh, but two routes are mostly taken by the riders which are discussed in detail for your reference:
Route 1: Leh to Pangong Tso via Nubra Valley
This route through Nubra valley is generally avoided by travelers because of long driving hours. Usually, it takes more than12 hours to reach Pangong lake through this route. But this route has its own charm for the travelers who want to explore the beauty of Nubra Valley and trying to see the local culture through the Diskit monastery. This route has another two diversions to reach Pangong after Nubra Valley:
Nubra Valley to Pangong Lake via Wari La
Nubra Valley to Pangong Lake via Shyok
Pangong Lake from Nubra Valley via Wari La
The route to reach Pangong lake via Nubra valley is the same till the village of Agham, and after this village, you have to decide whether to proceed via Wari La pass or through Shyok. If you opt for this route to reach Pangong via Nubra valley, you have to drive for almost 250 km and you will be taking a diversion through Wari La pass like:
Diskit – Khalsar – Agham – Tangyar – Wari La – Tathok – Sakti – Chang La – Durbuk – Tangste – Lukung – Spangmik
The road network throughout this route is quite fine but filled with dust and boulders in between. Once you start from Leh toward Dikshit, you have to drive for 118 Km which will take roughly 4 hours to reach Dikshit Monastery. This monastery is the oldest and largest monastery of Nubra Valley with beautiful architecture and 32 m high statue of Buddha to welcome you. Located on a hilltop, easily visible from distance, it surely will mesmerize you to have a halt here.
After this monastery in Dikshit village, you will come across small villages of Khalsar, Agham, and Tangyar. After these villages, you will be encountering a Wari La pass, which has a different type of adventure in crossing itself. Once you crossed Wari La pass, you will be welcomed by Takthok Monastery which is located at a hilltop with its beautiful paintings and carvings, ready to mesmerize you.
It is strongly recommended to carry proper identity cards to smoothen your journey because you are subjected to frisking by security personnel en route. As this route is a bit long and continuous drive of more than 10 hours under such condition is not at all suggested. You can go for a night halt in between Pangong lake and Leh, and enjoy the beauty of Nubra valley.
Nubra Valley to Pangong Lake via Shyok
Once you opted for the route through Shyok after Agham village, you will be moving through the villages of
Diskit/Panamik – Khalsar – Agham – Shyok Village – Durbuk – Tangste – Lukung – Spangmik
The particular route is almost 170 km shorter than the above mention route through Wari La pass. You will be taking a diversion from Agham village toward Shyok, and if opting for this route be mentally prepared to face risky and tough roads ahead. The road passes through steep and rocky surfaces with dust and boulders dominating the road. It is strongly suggested to choose this route only if you are comfortable and confident about your driving skills. Landslides, wet roads due to flooding, and overflowing in the shyok river is common on this route.
Route 2: Leh to Pangong Tso via Chang La
If you are comfortable to miss beautiful Nubra Valley from your to-do list, then this route to reach Pangong lake is the shortest and direct. It will just take a drive of 6-7 hours of yours to reach the destination. This route also has some beautiful spots to explore like Shey village. Shey village has a monastery located nicely on a hilltop, just 15 Km from Leh town. The route you are going to take will be as:
Leh – Shey – Karu -Sakti – Chang La -Durbuk – Tangste – Lukung – Spangmik – Pangong Tso
After the village Durbuk, all three routes join together for a further journey toward Pangong Lake. Shey monastery is famous since ancient times because it used to be the summer capital of Laddakh. This village also has one palace which is in ruins at present, but you can have a glimpse of the statue of Buddha.
Karu village which is at 23 Km from Shey can be used as a small stopover having a small tea stall and options for food. After Karu, Takthok monastery is located at a distance of 9 Km where you can find lamas residing in the monastery. After driving for another 34 Km or one hour, you can take a brief halt at Chang La pass, which is the third-highest motorable road in the world.
Chang La also houses an Indian security forces camp which in itself is a proud giving thing for travelers. Magnificent views at this pass can be an opportunity for nature lovers and photographers. Enjoy some hot black tea at Army camp here.
From Chang La pass, the next halt can be at Tangste village where you will find many hotels and small tea shops for refreshments. After 60 Km from here, you will reach Spangmik village, which offers a beautiful view of the lake and houses many camps where you can halt for the day. Another 2-hour journey will land you at the banks of magnificent Pangong lake which is the ultimate destination for you to enjoy the rest of the day.
Hotels near Pangong lake
If you start early in the morning from Leh, you can easily come back after visiting Pangong lake through the second route easily. But it is recommended to make a stopover to enjoy the beautiful views of the lake. There are enough options available for you to reside while planning a trip to Pangong Lake. Camping at the lake will give you the best experience of a clear starry night with an awesome view of the lake under the moonlight.
You can book your hotels to stay in or can camp at Spangmik village which is just 2 hours from the lake offering quite beautiful views. Leh has enough options to reside and you can book cheap hotels online or offline while payments can be done through all available methods of Plastic money like Credit cards and others. There are many deluxe and luxury hotels also available in close proximity to the lake (within 1 km) where you can choose your stay.
Services Avaialble in Laddakh Region
Mobile connectivity – Mobile connectivity can be assumed as Not available because, in most of the region and valleys, you don’t have access to it. Mobile network is found only around the major towns like Leh and Kargil.
Medical facilities– No, Medical Facilities and Hospitals are not available in the region. The only town of Leh has some good facility and no other part will be serving you with any of it except some basic first aid.
ATM– ATM is available only in the town of Leh. You will not find ATM anywhere in the entire region except here. So it is recommended to carry enough cash while traveling to the region.
Fuel Station– Fuel station or Petrol Pumps are available on the highway only and that also not so frequent to access. So it’s better to drive with enough fuel so that can catch another station located distantly. After Leh- Manali highway the first petrol pump you can find is at Tandi village. However, black fuel can be found in the village Karu, Spangmink, Chusul, Tangtse, Chumthang.
Automobile Repair shops will be accessible in towns like Leh and Kargil only. In the rest part of the region, there is hardly any repair shop for your vehicle, so be mentally prepared for handling any contingency of breakdown
Tips for Trip to Laddakh Region
There are some small tips that will help you in Planning your Trip efficiently. These tips must be kept in mind before boarding to the beautiful region of Laddakh. To get details you can go through other blogs on Things to carry on the trip as well.
Driving by Bikes: If you are a bike rider and visiting the lake by bike, then you should carry enough fuel with you. As there is no fuel station available from Leh/Srinagar onwards and you have to be self-sufficient for that purpose. Also, an option of bike repair will not be found easily, so must have a mechanic with you or else have arrangement prior.
Do carry necessary documents to prove your identity, in case asked. As you are traveling to border areas where frisking can be there by the security forces, you should be in a position to furnish all details to them when asked.
Don’t Disturb the Beauty: You are traveling to a beautiful location, and it is our moral duty not to disturb the beauty. Don’t throw garbage and keep all your used baggage with you and dispose of at designated place only. Please don’t throw Plastic and other garbage in this hill area, and if possible collect and dispose it of at the designated place.
Be polite with the local people out there, because they welcome travelers with a warm smile. It is our duty to maintain harmony so as to benefit future travelers.
Be Free and always plan your traveling in such a way that you have enough time available with you to explore to destination fully. Because traveling with a disturbed mind or under paucity of time will spoil your entire trip.
Medical Facility: If possible carry some minimum required medicines in your First Aid Box with you because the availability of medicine is scarce in the region. You can go through the checklist of minimum required medicines in the other dedicated blog on the Travel medicine kit.
Required Clothing items must be carried along in the trip to this region. Proper winter clothing including socks, undergarments, shoes, pants, and shirts keeping the harsh cold weather of the region in mind.