Ladakh is situated in the Himalayan and Karakoram ranges. Ladakh is a rugged arid and cold desert yet panoramic. Its majesty and beauty is pristine. Being the highest plateau of state of Kashmir, it has an elevation over 9,800 ft. It is also known as ‘Little Tibet’ because of cultural and topographical similarities with Tibet. The spectacular lakes at high altitudes, mighty mountains, picturesque meadows and peaceful monasteries attract tourists. The adventurous trekkers are fascinated towards the tricky trekking in sweeping remote locations. So, if you too are absorbed in this divine beauty, here are few major places which are a must visit when you plan to travel this Land of Passes.
Pangong Tso Lake:
Pangong derived its name from the Tibetan word Banggong Co which means long, narrow, enchanted lake. It is one of the largest endorheic lakes. It is situated at a high altitude of 14,256 feet above sea level and this stretch of water is 5 kilometer wide and 134 kilometer long which extends from eastern Ladakh to Tibet. This place is popular for its ever-changing hues. It’s one third parts is situated in India, while the majority of part which is two third part is in Tibet and is controlled by China.
This lake completely freezes in winter despite its brackish nature and a gala festival of ice skating is also organized every year. In the remaining year of time, bright tranquil blue waters and rocky lakeshore gives a serene view. This lake is filled by a large chunk of streams, located in the Tibetan. Tourists and photographers are attracted to this place and click some great pictures on a ramp-like land formation that runs into the lake.
This lake has very low micro-vegetation and has no fish or any aquatic life, except crustaceans. This lake is a paradise for bird watchers. This lake acts as an important breeding point for several migratory birds such as Brahmini ducks, sea gulls and rare black necked cranes. Ladakhi marmots are also spotted.
How to reach-
Nearest Railway Station: Kalka
Nearest Airport: Leh
By Road: Best route with good road conditions: Leh-Karu-Sakti-Chang La-Durbuk-Tangste-Lukung-Spangmik.
Best Season: June to September is the best season to visit. In winters the climate becomes very harsh.
Summer: Around 8-21 oC.
Winter: below -5 o C to 10 o C.
Permits: For Indian tourists, no permits are needed. At the ITBP/Army check-posts, your valid Photo ID Nationality Proof like Driving License, Indian Passport, Aadhar Card, PAN Card, etc. can be shown.
Attractions: Thicksey, Hemis and Shey monasteries and spectacular views of the Chang-Chenmo range mountains from the Spangmik village.
- The Lake is a borderline terrain The Line of Actual Control passes through the lake.
- This lake has a 20 km stretch from the Line of Actual Control which is controlled by China but claimed by India. Its Eastern end is in Tibet and not claimed by India, while the western end is disputed between India and Pakistan.
- The Khurnak Fort is located midway of Pangong Tso.
- Under the Ramsar Convention, this lake is in the process of being identified as an internationally acclaimed wetland and then, it will be a first trans-boundary wetland in South Asia.
Stay: Homestays are available. One can enjoy camps/tents as well to experience the magical changes and glory of lake with the sunrise and sunset.
Tips: Carry your own food, the eateries around this area are few and too costly. Locals can be approached for homestays and good quality food. Modern facilities like western toilet, LCDs are rarely available. You will not find phone signals and ATMs in this area. Carry a medical aid as well.
Magnetic Hill: ‘Gravity Hill’
The ‘magnetic hill’ is located on the Leh-Kargil-Baltik national highway. It is nestled at a height of 14,000 feet above sea level. Indus flows on its south side, which originates in Tibet and goes to Pakistan. The alignment of the road with the slope of the background, gives the optical illusion that cars are able to drift upwards.
Changla Pass: ‘Pass towards the South’
Ladakh is known as land of passes, Changla pass is one of them. It is situated at an altitude of 17,590 ft. This pass was named after the Sadhu Changla Baba, who had built the pass temple. It is the third highest motorable mountain pass in the world. It is the main entry place for the Changthang plateau situated in the Himalayas. Changla pass is a way to reach the scenic Pangog Tso Lake. Tangste is the nearest settlement from Chang La. Indian Army serves hot tea to the tourists who pass through Chang La at the tea-point! The breathtaking views from Chang La will be etched in your memories forever. Yak rides are also available.
Best Season: May-October
Khardung La Pass: ‘Pass of Lower Castle’
Khardung La pass is the enroute to Shyok and Nubra valley. It is the world’s topmost motorable pass according to BRO (Border Road Organization). It is situated at an altitude of 18,379 ft. It lies on a caravan road from Leh to Kashgar. Tibetan prayer flags adds magical colors to the charming views. This pass is important to Indian army situated near the Siachen Glacier. Landslides occur in this part. So, one has to be careful. This pass attracts motor bikers from all over the world.
Best Season: May-October
Taglang La Pass: It is situated at an altitude of 17582 ft and is the second highest mountain pass in Ladakh. The lush green vegetation and spectacular views are outstanding. Tanglang la is the gateway to Leh on the Manali – Leh route.
Whenever you plan to visit Himalayan reagion, give time to your body for acclimatization to thin air and high altitudes. So, two days of stay is recommended for this in Leh. Later you can proceed to high altitude regions.
To see the glimpse of this panoramic place from comfort of your house, watch the movie ‘Anuraag’, a story that unfolds in the fetching beauty of Leh-Ladakh.