- Pangong Lake
- Tsomoriri Lake
- Salty Tso Kar (White Lake)
Best Time to visit: June to October
Ladakh is home to some very beautiful lakes. As peak winter temperatures hover near – 35 degrees for days at a time, everything in Ladakh freezes. The Indus and Zanskar become broad highways of ice, and the great lakes, Pangong and Tso Morari, freeze to a depth of several meters.
Pangong Tso, 154-km to the southeast of Leh, is one of the largest salt-water lakes in Asia, a long narrow strip of water stretching from Ladakh east into Tibet. Pangong Lake situated at a height of about 4,250 m (13,900 ft). It is 134 km (83.3 mi). Two thirds of the length of this lake lies in Tibet. The lake is 5 km (3 mi) wide. In winter, the lake surface freezes completely despite being salt water.
Pangong Tso can be reached in a five-hour drive from Leh, This route takes the visitor past picturesque villages of Shey and Thikse, and turns off the Indus valley by the side-valley of Chemrey and Sakti. The Ladakh range is crossed by the third-highest pass in the world, the Changla pass. The lakeside is open during the tourist season, from May to September. Tourist require a special permit to visit the lake. Permit (easily obtained in Leh town) to pass.
At Darbuk village near Tangste Valley stood a chain of war memorials with Regimental Insignias in commemoration of the soldiers who lost their lives during the Indo-Chinese war of 1962. Villagers can be seen here along with their large herds of Pashmina sheep and long tailed yaks.
Tsomiri is the largest of the High Altitude Lakes to be situated entirely within India. The remote high plateau of Changthang (meaning ‘northland’) stretches from western Tibet into eastern Ladakh. It is situated at a height of 4595 m above sea level. And the maximum length of the lake is 19 km and the maximum length of the lake is 40 m. .You can visit Korzok monastery at Tsomoriri which lies on the western bank of the lake.
This region, known as the land of the nomads, will give you an experience to last a lifetime. See the nomads’ traditional lifestyle and share a cup of butter tea in one of their black yak-hair tents along the incredible oval-shaped bank of Tsomoriri. The lake changes its turquoise blue color with the light and is surrounded by a picturesque landscape.
Korzok, situated at 15,000 feet (4,572 m) with its dozen or so houses and its gompa appearing like a mirage among the barren hills, is the only permanent settlement in Rupshu; otherwise the region is inhabited only by nomadic Chang-pa herd’s people. The Rupshu Chang-pa live in tents all the year round, moving in accordance with an old-established annual routine between the pastures the exist wherever an occasional stream carrying snowmelt from the heights makes possible the growth of grass, scanty indeed, but reportedly highly nutritious. The few barley-fields at Korzok must be among the highest cultivation in the world, but there is no guarantee that the crop will ripen every year.
The Area is rich in wildlife including the “Kyang” (wild ass), red fox and the rare, highly endangered, snow leopard. Black necked cranes and geese flock to the lakeside for breeding during the summer months. It also houses 350 years old Karzok monastery which has about 33 resident monks.
Tso Kar – White Lake
Past the Thanglang La (Pass) and a soak in the hot springs of Chhumathang, you arrive at the salty Tso Kar or the ‘White Lake’. Tso Kar is at a distance of 155km from Leh and approx 45 kms northwest of the Tsomoriri Lake. You can camp at the nearby Thukje village and also visit the monastery of Thukje. You can see the hot springs at Puga.