Pangong Lake is a beautiful lake situated at an altitude of 4350 metres. The water is cold and clear and shift in blue and green colours. The lake is surrounded by bare mountains, some with snow on the tops even during the summer months. The water in Pangong Lake is brackish so it makes it the highest situated lake with salt water. Pangong means extensive concavity and it is a 134 kilometre long lake, but it is only 5 kilometres wide at the widest points. More than 60% of the lake is situated in Tibet.
You can arrange for a daytrip to Pangong Lake from most travel companies in Leh. But I had to visit many before I fond one who had other people to share the price with on the same day I wanted to go. As for other tours there is a fixed price for Pangong Lake. There is one price for the first stop by the lake and if you want to go to the village 7km away along the lake it is a bit more expensive. As we were going all the way to the lake we also wanted to go the last 7 kilometres. For that the price of the car with driver was Rs 5398 (July 2010). We were four people sharing so we paid Rs 1350 each.
You need a permit to visit Pangong Lake and that can be arranged at the travel agent. I already had a permit, a one-week permit, which I had arranged at my hotel before going to Nubra Valley. The one-week permit valid for both Nubra Valley and Pangong Lake was Rs 230 (July 2010).
It is a long drive to Pangong Lake. It takes 5h one way so we started early. At 7.00 we were at the office and soon the car came. When we arrived to Karu the driver stopped to eat breakfast. As all others had had breakfast already we waited for him. He drove fast and had his window open. I didn’t like it and when we came to higher altitude it was really cold. I asked him to close the window, but he said he would fall asleep then. Finally he only had half the window open and it was still cold.
After eating lunch at Pangong Lake we were going to the village further away along the lake. The driver tried to persuade us not to go but to return to Leh. We insisted to go as we had paid for it and wanted to see more of the lake. It was obvious the driver didn’t like it. Going back to Leh he drove even faster and it took only four hours.
It was a long day and many hours spent in the car, but it was worth it. The scenery is beautiful along the way and so is the lake.
I didn’t have much time so I just went to Pangong Lake on a daytrip. Most people only visit on a daytrip, even if the journey there takes 5h one way. Some tours are a two-day tour though and I think it can be worth staying the night if you have the time. Then you can also see the shifting colours of the lake and surrounding landscape in evening- and morning light.
Rangdum is an isolated amphitheatre like valley which lies 130 km from Kargil . Enchanting in its beauty, it has two small hamlets and a monastery that date from the 17th century. The villagers are basically agricultural serfs of the monastery, which like many other monasteries is perched on a high hillock. The region is ideal for camping hiking and horse riding. A five-day trek can be undertaken for Henaskut and Lamayuru through the Kanji valley.
An overnight halt is an amazing experience, but the sunrise over the Zanskar range to the north, and the Great Himalayan Range to its south and west is bound to take your breath away! After a quick maggi, its time to move on further. From Rangdum to Padum is another 100 odd kms, through the Pensi La (15,340 ft). On the way, you will spot wild horses, Yaks, Marmots, Bharal, wolves and of course the glaciers!
This journey will take you along the Suru river valley, all the way to the source of the river, near the Pensi La watershed. You can almost reach out and touch the glaciers (well, it does feel that way) on the way up. After crossing Pensi La you meet the astounding Drang Drung Glaciers, the largest glacial system here, and the source of Stod/ Zanskar river. Thereafter the road leaves the mountain and into a flat valley like expanse, which can become dreary in its monotones. Padum is about 110 kms from Rangdum and takes a good 6 hours to reach. On the way you can stop at Sani Gompa ( a nunnery) well known for its sculptures. Padum is a nondescript village-town with towering peaks around it, and a small 2000 odd Buddhist population . More in Part 3 .....
If you have the time, money and love of experiencing the wilderness, Zanskar is not be missed. For photographers , both amateurs and experts, Zanskar region is a dream come true. Take a bus or share a jeep to Kargil and halt at night. I stayed at Hotel D'Jila .Rooms are available for 500-800 INR.
Leave very early the next day for Rangdum. There are many buses that ply from Kargil to Padum.The other option is to hire a jeep by yourself. Not only does it become more comfortable, you can also stop at places and take in your fill of the beauty around you.
The road to Padum (administrative headquarter of Zanskar) was metalled in 1970s. It remains closed between October/ November to April/May, i.e, during the winters due to snow. This route therefore opens in May after the snow on the passes melt. Its is quite bumpy- since most of this route travels over 15000 ft asl, and the snow-melt and landslides play havoc. Rangdum is ONLY 110 kms away from Kargil, but it takes nearly 6-7 hours to reach ! Another advice- CARRY FOOD and WATER.
Rangdum is a huge valley surrounded by small and large glaciers. At night you can be sure of a -4C ! Carrying a good quality sleeping bag is the only survival tool that works since the chilled winds howl away the whole night! You can stay at the J.K.Tourist Home, or the Alpine Hut (for trekkers), and it costs 100 INR for a room. The caretaker can be requested for dinner and hot water (chargeable at 15 INR per bucket) . The Tourist House is powered by Solar energy. However there are no sockets that charge batteries. I used film rolls and carried lots of batteries, and used the digital camera sparingly. There is a beautiful Gompa which shot into spotlight for a very sad reason. 3 Lamas were shot dead by terrorists. But thats is the past. Dont forget your tripod- the views are amazing, but dont trust your fingers , its too cold and windy ! More in Part- II.
Something interesting which i had not heard or seen in the net..one place was the Gurudwara...where it is believed that Guru Nanak ji had visited leh and in one such place a huge stone fell from the hill and hit Guru Nanak ji instead of hurting him the rock melted like wax in places where it touched Guru Nanak Ji ...the stome still has the hollow impression of a human being........have a look at that...it was interesting...
Secondly was a magnetic hill....they believe (i too believe now)that if u place the vehicle within the marked lines the hill will pull it so if u stop the jeep/car..it still moves...we did not believe it while on our way to Alchi..but on return we stopped the jeep at a slant and waited..the jeep slowly moved backword,looks like there is something which pulls the jeep like a magnet..
The Ladakh Society for Traditional Medecine (LSTM) operates the 'Nomad Amchi Clinic' in Changspa, Leh.
This clinic offers the chance for visitors to Ladakh to receive consultation and treatment by a well-respected, English speaking amchi.
Every Friday the clinic offers an introductory talk and discussion for those wishing to learn more about the Tibetan medical system
Half way between Leh and the Mandala Hotel in Fort road there's this beautiful prayer wheel.. at every tme of the day you can see people there going around in circles and praying. However the wheel puts on its best look after dusk, when it's lit up... at this time of the day it looks truly magical... a sight to behold.
I don't know if this little lane has a name, but I always called it baker street because it's full of traditional Bakery shops: small, dark and with real ovens. Bread there is delicious - really the best I have ever had - and cooked right in front of your eyes. Of course you get to eat it hot, so bring along something to fill your bread with: cheese, chocolate or even better a banana. My favourite baker is the first one on the right: fantastic bread for 2 rupess a piece. Definitely a great bargain
In Library road, going downhill it's on the left side, there's a tiny and hidden vegetable market that it's a delight to the eyes and the nose. Wonderful smells and perfumes... and many vegetables that you surely have never seen before. It's great to walk there and stop at the stalls, asking what the things are... mostly you will be told the Ladakhi name - which isn't much of use... but it's still a curious way to spend some time away from the souvenir shops.
FROZON RIVER TREK IN KINDOM OF ZANSKAR
LAKE PANGONG SAFARI
LAKE TSOMORIRI SAFARI
DA HANU THE ARYAN VILLAGE
LADAKH TO SPITI TREK
DOUBLE HUMP BACTERIAN CAMEL SAFARI IN NUBRA VALLEY
WINTER PHOTOGRAPHY IN LADAKH
SNOW LEOPARD WATCH IN WINTER
HUNT FOR THE BLACK NECK CRANE
MOVING WITH THE NOMADES: THE CHANGTHANG PLANES
I am shortly coming with the details on the above exclusive adventure trips
Just walk around the backstreets below the palace and you are bound to see something interesting, like this man mixing a big batch of flower.