Pangong Lake (སྤང་གོང་མཚོ) – Lake of the great hollow

Pangong Tso (སྤང་གོང་མཚོ) also reffered as Pangong Lake, the word Tso means Lake. You can pronounce it simply as ‘so’ or maybe ‘cho’. You can do this with all Ladakhi words that begins with a ‘ts’. In Tibetan Pangong Lake stands for “high grassland lake”. It is an inland lake and sometimes also called as the inland sea situated in Himalayas at an altitude of 4,350 m (14,270 ft). This L-shaped lake is around 156 km/six hours drive from Leh, you should travel in direction of Hemis from Leh City and turn left near the Hemis. The last major village before the lake is Tangste. Chushul is 47 km ahead of lake.

This is a salt water (brackish) lake, the highest of its kind in the world. The waters of the lake are mostly sapphire blue in color, with different shades of blue and green at different places. People claim to have counted as many as seven shades. The general formula is that the color is green where it is shallow, blue where deep and other shades in between. Despite of fact being the brackish water of Pangong Lake has very low micro-vegetation. Apparently, there is no fish or any sea life in the lake, except crustaceans.

The total length of this lake is approx. 134 km and almost three-quarters of this lies in China. The lake is 3 to 5 km wide. The Pangong Lake is 328 ft (around 100m) at its deepest. Though it’s a salt water lake, it freezes during winters.

Pangong Lake

Pangong Lake

This is one of the most important attractions in Leh and also the most beautiful one, and can be done by taxi/bike. Most people do it as a day trip starting early in the morning and come back in the evening. However, there are arrangements for the stay near the lake in Lukung & Spangmik and one can stay overnight either in tents or at several guest houses to enjoy this place at a slower pace. Takthok and Chemeray/Chemeday monasteries can be covered en-route by taking 3-5 km detours.

In earlier days, tourists, not even International but even Indians, could only visit the lake after obtaining inland permits. As the lake was made famous by the Bollywood hit ‘3 Idiots’, a film casting Amir Khan in the year 2009 but in the earlier years as well various bollywood movies were shot here, including ‘Dil Se’ released in the year 1998, th song was titled ‘Satarangi Re‘ starring Shahrukh Khan.

There are barren, rocky mountains in the east and north-east, with peaks at between 18,000 ft and 19,500 ft. The mountains in the south-west are taller and go up to 21,500 ft. One of these peaks is always covered with snow. The glaciers on some of these mountains melt into little streams, some of which merge with the lake.

Lukung is at northern edge of Pangong Lake, you first get to see the lake from here. Two roads emerge at Lunkung, one leads to the lake and the other one goes to Phobrang.

Spangmik is a village located on the bank of Pangong Tso. You will find various accommodation options here including camps and tents.

Leh – Pangong Lake Route Map

You can start your drive early morning from leh and enroutes Thiksey Monastery – Hemi Monastery – Durbuk – Tangtse – Lukung – Pangong Tso(Spangmik).


View larger map on Google

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Pangong Lake (སྤང་གོང་མཚོ) – Lake of the great hollow
Pangong Lake is located at an altitude of 4,350m & is approx 156km from Leh. The highest of its kind in the world & water is mostly blue & green at places.
Leh Ladakh Travel Guides