After exploring the peace and serenity at a number of stupas and monasteries, we had gathered a lot of information about the impact of Buddhism in India. The next destination in our list was the Pangong Tso Lake.
The term Pangong Tso is Tibetan and stands for narrow, long and enchanted lake. Some even call it simply by Pangong. This endorheic lake is a part of the Himalayas and is located at an altitude of around 4,400m. It has a length of 134km and the most surprising thing is that it starts in India and extends up to Tibet. So we weren’t able to view the entire lake since then, we would have to enter another country, which was not possible.
Since we were there during the summer season, the water in the lake was completely fresh and in its normal form. The locals informed us that despite containing saline water, the lake freezes totally during the months of winter. They also informed us that only around 40% of the lake is in India. In total, the lake is spread over an area of 604 sq. km.
There are chances that the lake may be identified as an internationally important lake under the Ramsar Convention. If it turns into reality, then Pangong Tso Lake will hold the record of being the first trans boundary wetland from South Asia to come under the convention’s supervision. Unfortunately, the lake is situated in a troubled territory. The dispute is amongst Tibet, China, India and Pakistan claiming control different areas covered by the lake.
We had to travel on an extremely rough and dramatically created mountain road to reach the Lake. We crossed the Changla Pass and a number of villages namely Gya and Shey. Thanks to its location over the Sino Indian Line of Actual Control that we had to obtain an Inner Line Permit before visiting the lake. We also learnt that foreigners need to be in a group of at least three people and headed by a recognized guide in order to reach the lake. The permit was obtained from a tourist office after a small fee.