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Pangong Tso Lake – Himalayas

Yet another scenic destination of the Asian continent is the Pangong Tso which in Tibetan language means “long, narrow, enchanted lake”. This salt water lake runs for 83 miles between India and Tibet out of which only one third falls within India and the rest falls in Tibet under the administration of China. The Pangong Tso or Pangong Lake is situated at a height of 4,350 m (14,270 ft) amongst the Himalayas.


The exact location of the Pangong Tso in India is estimated at about a five hour drive from Leh in the Ladakh part of Jammu Kashmir. While accessing the Pangong Tso from the Indian side one has to cross the third highest mountainous motorway pass in the world. The best part of the Pangong Tso is its clear azure colour beside the rocky mountains in the surrounding region. Being a saltwater lake, there is no vegetation around or within the lake. Every winter it gets completely frozen despite of its salt content. The majority of the mountain streams which feed the lake fall in the Tibetan side.


In terms of wildlife, the Pangong Lake is known to be a popular breeding ground for migratory birds like Brahmani ducks, the black necked crane, Seagulls, and so on. Though not anything else but sometimes the Ladakhi marmot which looks like a rodent and sizes like a dog is seen in the area. In the current times the Pangong Tso is under Ramsar Convention for conserving the wetlands. After it completion this is going to be the first trans-boundary area to be under the convention.


Another importance of the Pangong Tso is that it falls within the disputed area of India and China. The Line of Control between the two countries passes through the lake. One part of the lake which is 20km on the eastern side of Line of Control is claimed by India while it is under the control of China. The rest of eastern half of the lake which is under the Chinese control is of no dispute between the countries. The western half of the Pangong Tso is totally out from any dispute.  While going in the region many times it requires the Inner Line Permit and usually the tourists are permitted to visit only till Spangmik Village.


The areas of the Pangong Tso are a delight for the tourists especially campers and photographers. The best times of visiting are known to be May to September however; it is always good to be conscious about the changing harsh weathers. While accessing from the Indian side, most of the way up to the Pangong Lake is through the rough mountains and crosses the Changla Pass where it is full of the national army. The Inner Line Permit can be obtained by paying a small fee. Boating is not allowed on the Pangong Tso because of security reasons.