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Pangong Lake — An otherworldly place on this earth

My journey on this extraordinary trail and its environs….….

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10 May '24
6 min read


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Pangong Lake or Pangong Tso has earned the moniker “The Enchanted Lake” among tourists and also film-makers over the years for its pristine turquoise-blue waters, encompassed by craggy landscapes with unfathomable mountains with little or no vegetation mountains standing tall proudly protecting India’s pride and fame.

Set at an altitude of 4,350m in the Ladakh region of Northern India with contrasting vivid blue, green, and red colors of the lake are what sets it apart from being “the world’s highest saltwater lake” extending to Tibet and China.

On one fine afternoon after a hearty lunch sitting on the balcony couch, my eyes struck those travel snapshots from the album throwing back to the itinerary 2018, June of “Pangong Lake” and its enchanting vistas making me realize it was just yesterday. “Time flies by in the twinkling of an eye’’ I pondered.

Setting on the journey! I PROMISE IT WON’T BE BORING!

Bang on! This is considered to be the true bike adventurous journey several nationalities from all over the world join hands. With the advent of the summer season, tourists throng by all means. We commenced our 6-hour journey to Pangong Lake by car from our main hotel situated in Leh. It was advised by our tour operators that we carry extra oxygen cans, postpaid BSNL, Jio, Airtel sim, and parachute jackets with us. There was even a separate oxygen cylinder for every tourist car. The journey took approximately 6 hours to reach the tent camp. As we were ascending the vegetation started depleting and unstructured winding roads became more bumpy accompanying a few water bodies and river streams flowing downwards.

Our first transit was Chang-La Pass (the second-highest motorable road) and the mountains there were barren enough. Here you will feel a bit dizzy and vomit if you stop for a longer time. The landscape was dotted with cafeterias, and open vans serving teas, noodles, soup, pasta, etc. Flocks of tourists thronged there for refreshments. The amount of fervor they seemed to carry could make Ladakh no oxygenless! (Ladakh usually lacks oxygen).


Our car stopped somewhere between the road again due to traffic. All the cars were queued up in one line and the motor bikers were passing by us one by one. I decided to get down and look around, took a deep breath, and felt the cornucopia of nature in its realm. Pure oxygen permeates the space, i could feel cold gusty wind falling on my face. The moment transmuted me to another place when a gentle voice propelled me from my imaginary world, “Madam, the traffic is cleared”, the driver said.

After a couple of distance driving came another site a grassland area where marmots could be seen wandering. I stopped by to take pictures of those marmots but the gushing force of winds forced me to put on the cap to restrain my short hair from distracting me. The mountains here were quite rugged somewhat resembling pictures of the Grand Canyon!

The adventure afterward became more bumpy due to the sudden water flow from the glacier meltdown. As we approached Pagla Nalla the craggy path almost bombarded me with multiple hits on my head and the car carried on its path.

A few drives apart the gleaming blue water was visible overlooking the cleavage of two hills. In a word it was “Transcendental”!

Finally, we reached our tent camp during the afternoon time, which was set just beside the bank of Pangong Lake shining like an emerald blue under the cloudy sky. The tent was furnished with a king-sized bed with charging sockets, a side table, basic electricity, and a good sanitation facility. A separate verandah was attached to our room with a zip-lock facility for your privacy. The camp had around 50 tents with similar room facilities each and beside it was a big cafeteria where we had our lunch, dinner, and breakfast the following day. The cafeteria was adorned with chairs, and tables made of polished wood. The glass panel on one side of the restaurant was overlooking the Pangong Lake. Guests could enjoy meals and the scenery at the same time. The crockeries were pristine white and made of bone china placed neatly on the crisp table covering, condiments, and cutleries put aside on the table shimmering emitting off the sun rays falling on it togetherly giving off an elegant holiday scene!

We had our lunch and set off for sightseeing. The settlements were dispersed and mostly inhabited by Indian army personnel and a few locals. The India-China border was several meters away and army base camps were at every distance. Our driver took us to the site where the iconic Bollywood movie “3 Idiots” - Kareena Kapoor riding in a retro scooter as a bride look scene was shot. I was lucky to recreate that scene in the exact dress for the photography session. Hundreds of camels were taking tourists around the desert to show them the majestic wonder of the desert, water bodies, and mountains all in one place. Yes, you heard it right! That’s the majesty of this place.

During the nighttime, the sky was full of scintillating stars twinkling gleefully. I stopped by the empty roadside to contemplate the cold night under the shining sky - a few herds of locals were warming themselves up by the bonfire, tucked away in one peaceful nook of the world some crores of miles apart from the hustling and bustling of cities made me to second guess about retreating to my own nest.

Well, dreams apart I headed back to our tent, the gushing wind was lashing against the tent. The lake was glistening under the moonlight. The scenery was exquisitely beautiful.

With the advent of the sun, the ephemeral scenery of dawn became a pallet of orange-light bluish hues throwing its color in every nook of the village. The bright shiny morning was a call for the departure from the sweet hamlet. We got ready without taking a bath, a must-follow rule if you visit there. I stopped one more time by the lake and took some of the last snapshots before bidding bye! The journey was opulently blissful!


 

Category : Travel


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Written by Triparna Chakraborty