The availability of little accommodation and the freezing cold night, do restrict your travel timings to the lake. It is best visited during the summer months of May to September. The winters freeze the lake almost entirely and you would miss the clear waters and the warm sunrays during this time. The sunrays contain a high dosage of UV radiation, therefore do not forget to carry sunscreen and remain clothed during the entire trip.
Remember to fetch the Inner Line Permit beforehand from the military before arranging your visit.
The only way to reach the Lake is via a rough and dramatic road from Leh.
By air: The nearest airhead is Leh and it is well connected via flights from Srinagar and Delhi. From Leh state buses and private cars need to make a 5-hour rough drive to reach Pangong Lake.
By rail: The nearest railway station is Jammu which is 540 km from Leh. Rail connectivity is almost absent in Leh district.
By road: The uneven terrain reveals the dramatic landscape of Leh until Pangong Tso. The 150 km journey from Leh can be completed via State buses and private transport. The State bus will drop you at Spangmik village near the Lake.
1. Chang La Pass
The Chang La Pass is the first destination to be encountered on the way to Pangong Tso. It holds the title of being the highest motorable road. The place houses a checkpoint and a small Chang La baba Mandir which is beautifully decorated with colourful ribbons and tiny flags. If you are suffering from altitude sickness, the first symptoms will start to appear here.
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Your journey from Chang La pass will divulge into a steep mountain road that takes sharp turns at various points and is a three-hour drive to the lake. The landscape here is serene, peaceful and laden with green patches during the summers. Although the penetrative sunrays are harsh, the cool breeze will keep you comfortable. Yaks, Himalayan dogs, and wild asses run alongside the roads. A few army camps are always there to help visitors. The tea stalls and regular washroom facilities are there to serve round the clock.
The Pangong Tso Lake is also known as the 'high grassland lake'. The lake is situated at an altitude of 4,350 m and transverses the Line of Actual Control bordering with China. Being featured in numerous Bollywood movies, the Pangong Lake is a true display of the alluring Himalayas at its best. The sight of serene calm mountains encircling it in a round fashion and the shimmering sunlight reflecting the azure blue shades into the horizon is a mesmerizing experience.
Pangong Lake is believed to carry the last remnants of the great Himalayan Sea which once existed. Although the lake is saline, it gets frozen during winter time. There are no fishes inhabiting the lake but beautiful exotic and migratory birds and few crustaceans inhabit the lake during summers.
Pangong Tso is an example of a beautiful paradise which has remained untouched by human civilization. Although the primary reason for its isolation is the disputed land, however, this is the advantage which has kept the place serene and pure. The Lake is one of the wetland conservation sites for protection. The brackish water may not support marine flora but the migratory birds are here to feed on the moss and lay their eggs during the summers.
It is a true delight to see the lake conserved in its natural form till date. The clear waters and shining skies allure the horizon of its beauty. Although boating and swimming are prohibited in the lake yet the peace of the place itself is enough to rejuvenate the soul from within and carry this unforgettable experience.