Lakes of Ladakh

Lakes of Ladakh Ladakh is home to some very beautiful lakes. As peak winter temperatures hover near -- 50 degrees for days at a time, everything in Ladakh freezes -- the Indus and Zanskar become broad highways of ice, and the great lakes, Pangong and Tso Morari, freeze to a depth of several meters. The sometimes emerald-green and sometimes midnight-blue pool of water, with shores covered in foliage that one could spend hours exploring, is girdled by soaring peaks as high as 6,500m. You have to cross the Chang La (Pass) at a height of 5,599m to get to the lake. Be prepared for a ‘not exactly smooth’ journey as some stretches are rather backbreaking. You will cross the villages of Durbuk, and Tangste that has a small temple. You could stay at the campsite in Mugleb. Situated at a distance of about 150km from Leh, Spangmic is the last village you are allowed to touch according to the guidelines of the permit. You could try your hand at riding a yak at one of the villages and pretend to be a highland bloke.

Past the Thanglang La (Pass) and a soak in the hot springs of Chhumathang, you arrive at the salty Tso Kar or the ‘White Lake’, so named perhaps because of the parched salt that cakes the shores of the lake. Tso Kar is at a distance of 155km from Leh. You can camp at the nearby Thukje village and also visit the monastery of Thukje. Further along the road are the hot springs at Puga. The road finally cuts through the Rupsu Valley to meet the 27km long and 8km wide Tso Moriri, or Mountain Lake that touches a hamlet with the same name. The lake looks up to an endless sea of mountains. The region is home to the nomadic tribe called Khampas who can be seen in the summer months with their large herds. The area also boasts of an impressive range of wildlife and is one of the better places where you could try and spot marmots, foxes and the Tibetan wild ass.

Pangong Lake Pangong Lake in Kashmir is the world’s highest brackish lake at 14,256 feet above sea level. A few years back the government decided to open it to tourists though the lake and its surrounding is under army surveillance. The tourism department intends to develop the infrastructure and facilitate the route leading to the lake. It is a picturesque route that covers Shey and Thikse with their interesting monasteries, before turning off into the side valley of Chemrey.

A place too easily arrived at is scarcely worth traveling to at all. Consider the ‘tired tourist’ who simply seeks solace in much talked about destinations, where he tends to relax and stroll the evenings away, buy a few souvenirs and sample the cuisine from the endless menu. And there’s the ‘tireless traveler’ - the learning by living person who opts for a destination in order to explore and experience the unknown.

It goes over the Chang-la (17,900 ft/5475m), the pass over the Ladakh range which despite it height is not too difficult to tackle. At the base of the pass, Tangse has an ancient temple. The trek ends at Spangmik which is the furthest point to which foreigners are permitted-about 7 km along the southern bank of the lake. Pangong Lake at a height of 14,000 ft (4,267 m), is breathtaking. Its blue green waters reflect the entire mountainscape of the Changchenmo range. The largest brackish water lake in Asia-the Pangong Lake is practicalley an inland sea, being 150 km long 2 to 10 km wide.

The TSO Moriri Lake The Leh-Manali road goes through the upland desert plateau of Rupshu inhabited only by the nomadic Chag-pa herdsmen and their flocks of pashmina goats. Its bare rolling hills interspersed with dusty valleys are the settings for the spectacular Tso Moriri Lake and other lakes in the area.

One trek wends its way to Korzok (15,000 ft/4,572 m) located just 5 km along the lake's 23 km length. This route takes off along the Leh-Manali road over the Taglang-la, proceeds to the twin lakes of Startsapuk Tso (a fresh water lake) and Tso-Kar (a salt water lake) and then on to Korzok.

The lake is sparkling blue in its bleak so\urroundings. It is also surprisingly the breedind ground for a variety of water birds, notably the bar-heade goose, brahminy duck, the great crested grebe and the brown headed gull.

Tso Kar – White Lake Tsokar Lake is approximately 45 km northwest of the Tsomoriri Lake at a height of 4,485 m. It is also called "White Lake" because of the salt deposited around it- this is because there is no outlet from the lake which makes the water brackish. The water of Tsokar is so salty that salt is taken from its banks and sold all over Ladakh and Kashmir by the local nomads known as the Rupsu Chang. All the lakes are breeding grounds for a variety of birds among them the bar-headed goose, the great crested grebe, the brahmin duck and the brown headed gul.