Pangong Lake : Summers in Ladakh
The Pangong Lake or “lake of the great hollow” lies about 160 km to the north-east of Leh across the chang la pass and is considered as the largest lake in Asia. The water is clearer though salty. It is believed that these waters must have been fresh at some ancient age. The mountain ranges at the pangong’s north-western extremity are of lime stones which seem to affect its water.
Pangong lake : First View
The Crystal clear salty water shines in many shades of blue depending upon its depth. It literally changes shades with sunlight. With a backdrop of mountains of various hues and colors, It is a sight for the Gods. At an elevation of 4300 meter, the air is cool even in summers at Ladakh. Pangong Lake is about 4 Km wide on the average and at least 136 Km long. The extent of the known portion is, therefore, upwards of 250 square miles (400 sq km) or about the same size as the holy lake of Mansarovar.
Pangong Lake on the backdrop of Snowy Himalayas
Only about a fourth of Pangong Lake is in India-till it takes an easterly turn and disappears into Tibetan territory. Towards the east, pangong is supposed to have sweet water. With its rare black necked cranes and other birds, it is the sight beyond one’s wildest imagination. But sadly Pangong is also ‘sensitive’ with some of the opposite bank being controlled by the Chinese. The man and merak village with the backdrop of the snowy peaks of the pangong range offer a grand view.
Pangong Lake : Map
The series of lakes going under the name of pangong extend over 150 km, the longest lake of the series being 60 km in length and between 3 to 6 km in width. It is a saltwater lake. The color of the water ethereally entrancing passes through the various shades of lovely green and blue as the sun changes its position in the sky or a passing clouds floats over the lake.
Near Spangmik Village : Pangong Lake
The farthest village of pangong area is spangmik located at 6-7 km along the southern shore up to which the foreign tourists are permitted. One can have a spectacular view of mountains of the Chang-Chenmo range to the north west of the Pangong Lake with its image reflecting in the lake’s ever-changing blue blue and green water. Above Spangmik are the glaciers and snow-capped peaks of the Pangong range.
Spangmik Village near Pangong Lake
Besides Pangong, there are some other lakes in the region of which Hanle Tso is the largest fresh water lake in Ladakh fed by a small fresh water stream and drained from the lofty range of mountains. The Hanle monastery is situated to the east of the lake. Tsearh Tso is 6 km towards north of Pangong Lake at an elevation of 13950 ft adjoining the Merak Tso situated in the village of man at an elevation of 13900 feet. Tso Rul is another lake situated in Chushul at a distance of 10 Km towards south of pangong lake. This lake runs 25 km in length with breadth 2-3 km. it is a bitter water lake.
The famous Khurnak fort near the international border stands on the bank of Pangong Lake.
Pangong Lake in Winter : January
Pangong Lake in winter:
During winters, the Pangong Lake freezes and the yaks, ponies and goats walk over the frozen hard surface of the lake when they migrate from place to place. A number of animals and birds roam around the Pangong Lake which are protected by the wild life department of the state government. Spangmik and some other small villages along the pangong’s southern shore are the summer homes of a scanty population of changpas. Changpas are the nomadic tribes of Changthang Valley in Ladakh range. The pangong Changpas cultivate sparse crops of barley and peas in summer. In winter they go to distant warmer places.
Pangong Lake : Partially Frozen in Winter
In winter, the pangong surface becomes so solid that the army’s huge three-tonner trucks easily ride over its smooth surface. It looks a superb venue for a gala festival of ice-skating where all the ladakhi villagers, In their colorful clothes, beads, necklaces, head-dresses, and the army, in camouflage uniform, could mingle happily for ample fun.
Migrated Birds at Pangong Lake in Winter
In winter, one may sight great crested grebe, common merganser, brown headed gulls and majestic black-necked crane at Pangong Lake.
Frozen River on the way to Pangong Lake