We were ready by 10 am and went to DC office for the permits. We had heard that easy way of obtaining permits is through an agent because it takes 4-5 hrs to get it done. It’s not true. Office opened at 10 and we reached there at 10:20. It took only 40 min to obtain the permits and by 12:00 we left for Pangong.
We went back till Karu and from there started our ascent for Chang La. The route to Chang La was tough. It was perhaps the most difficult pass that we crossed during our whole trip. The scenery was good. Thikse village in the below picture was very beautiful.
After crossing Chang La, we stopped at a place for lunch. It was a tent and the only place we found between Chang La and Tangtse. Road to Tangtse was good and one could easily spot horses grazing in greener areas.
We reached Tangtse and submitted the permits. The person in-charge there warned us about a ‘Nala’ 5 km before the lake. He said don’t cross the Nala if the flow is fast. We had already heard stories about this nala and were told not to cross it after 1 o’clock in the day, because snow melts and water flow increases. After hearing the same story many times, we were slightly concerned about this Nala.
We left Tangtse at 4 pm and headed for the lake. Enroute to lake we saw a lot of sand in the valley and a few times on the roads also.
Finally, we reached the Nala and stopped there. The flow was not looking much but we were not sure about the depth and the size of stones beneath the water. Nikhil decided to get an estimate of the water bed. He removed his shoes and walked into the freezing water. I wouldn’t have done that He gave the green signal and i started to cross it. It was my luck that the rear tyre got stuck in the middle of the stream. A big stone was present there. Nikhil had to come and push me. Nikhil followed a different path and crossed it easily.
Just 2 km after this Nala, we saw the first view of the Pangong Lake. All the stress and pain was relieved from that spectacular view.
We reached the lake at 5:30 and decided to stay near the lake in a hut. The colour of the water was dark blue in the evening. We saw some people, playing cricket near the lake. What a place to play cricket!
After sunset i went for a walk around the lake. I met a Army person near the lake. He told me some facts about the lake. I couldn’t believe that Pangong lake is 135 km long, 45 km in India and 90 km in China. The maximum width is 5 km and measurable depth is 700 m. In winters, the lake is completely frozen by 6-7 feet from the top. Surprisingly, it’s not a fresh water lake. Pangong is a salt water lake.
Before going to sleep i took a shot of the lake in moonlight.
Day summary: Leh – Chang La – Pangong Tso, 5.5 hrs, 150 km