The Tibetan word Pangong literally means ‘high grassland lake’. Situated 4350 meters above sea level the Pangong Lake is the world’s highest saltwater lake. It is also an endorheic type of lake. Endorheic water bodies are unique because their water doesn’t drain into rivers and seas unlike other water systems. Approximately 40% of the lake lies in India. The clear reflective surface of the lake amidst nature’s beauty is a tranquil sight. Setting up camps and bonfires along the banks is the best way to enjoy the cool serene landscape. Since this area is remote and sparsely populated, the night sky breathtakingly studded with stars is visible easily.
Many migratory birds such as gulls and geese frequent the lake making it an ideal place for avid photographers. During the winter the surface of the lake freezes over, ice skating and trekking are the fun activities during this time. Merak, Spangmik, Man and Lukung are tiny villages here with a predominantly Buddhist culture. These villages are also famous for their steaming hot momos and the Pashmina wool. Some local dishes like Thenthuk also have yak meat.
Changthang wildlife sanctuary between Leh and Pangong Tso has the rare endemic Himalayan Mormot, which is a hibernating mammal living in burrows.
While on your way to the lake you can come across a number of small Buddhist Stupas. One can stop by them to click pictures and offer prayers.
Pangong Tso Lake is the world’s highest salt water lake. It’s sheer beauty will leave you enthralled. It’s so pure that the reflection of the sky can be seen on the lake. The blue lake surrounded by brown mountains offers a picturesque view. Migratory birds like bar headed goose and brahmini duck can be spotted around the lake. What is interesting is that just one third of the lake is in India while rest is in China. The climax scene of Aamir Khan’s “3 Idiots” was shot here thus making it one of the most popular locations in India.
Snacks like Momos, Bread-Omelette, Aalu paratha, Rajma rice etc are available. It’s preferable to carry your own food and water.
Camping by the Pangong lake is the best activity one can do while visiting the place. The view of the starry night sky will leave you mesmerised. You can enjoy sitting by a small bonfire, lost in music and the enchanting landscape. At dawn the place looks ethereal, and despite of low temperature you should wake up early to breathe in the fresh air, and to capture the moment through the lenses, both of your eyes and that of the camera. In winters, Pangong Lake becomes a perfect place for ice skating as the blue water freezes into ice sheet. It’s also a place for birdwatching. And those interested in wildlife can have fun spotting the migratory birds.
You can shop for souvenirs, handicraft items and winter clothes like handmade sweaters, mufflers, shawls, caps, socks etc; pashmina shawls and hand knotted rugs from the markets in Leh and Ladakh.