Ladakh, a region in the Himalayas to the north of India, is a union territory situated at an altitude of 3,500m above sea level. Due to scant vegetation and little precipitation, Ladakh is known as a cold desert. Despite numerous challenges faced by the tourists, including acclimatising to the altitude in Ladakh, the region is attracting thousands of tourists and has emerged as a top tourist destination in India. Tourists are not only mesmerised by the scenic beauty, including snow-capped mountains and blue skies but also its unique cultural identity and heritage.
And despite being labelled as a cold desert, it turns out that Ladakh is not entirely a desert. Ladakh is home to some of the most beautiful and largest lakes in India. Pangong Tso and Tsomoriri are the most popular and well-known lakes in Ladakh but there are a few more lakes where you would like to visit when you are in Ladakh. We are highlighting four beautiful lakes of Ladakh, including the popular Pangong Tso and Tsomoriri lakes.
Pangong Tso Lake
Pangong Tso Lake, situated at an elevation of 4,225 metres, is 134-km long and extends from Ladakh to the Tibetan Autonomous Region in China. Almost 60 per cent of the lake is in China. It is at a distance of 140 km from Leh. Pangong derives its name from the Tibetan word Pangong which means high grassland. This endorheic lake is popular among the tourists for changing its colour all the time. The lake was made popular by the Bollywood film ‘3 Idiots’ and a tour to Pangong Tso Lake is always included in the itinerary of a Ladakh trip. The lake surrounded by both snow-capped and virgin barren mountains, is the perfect place to find one’s inner peace. The first glance at this lake and its blue waters will leave a lasting impression on you. Even though the water in the Pangong Tso Lake is saline, the lake still freezes in the winter.
It is always advisable to wear warm clothes during your trip to Pangong as the nights are cold and windy. However, the ambience at the lake – bonfire, clear skies full of stars, full-moon night – will make you forget everything, even the cold weather.
The spectacular Tsomoriri lake, located at an altitude of 4,500 metres above sea level, is one of the highest and biggest lake in India. It is also one of the most beautiful high-altitude lakes in the Himalayas and one should not miss it when travelling in Ladakh. The lake is 25 km long and 5 km wide. It is situated on the Changthang plateau, in the southeast part of Ladakh near the border with Tibet. Korzok is the only village on the bank of the lake. It comprises a few houses and a monastery that is worth a visit. A few homestays and guesthouses can be found in Korzok village. In summer, camps are also available near the lake for tourists who wish to spend the night in this scenic environment.
While the majority of the lakes are situated in the Changthang area of the ladakh region, Yarab Tso is one of the very few lakes located in either Nubra or the Sham valley. Yara Tso is situated near Panamik village which is at a distance of around 50 km from Diskit, the administrative headquarter of Nubra valley. What makes this lake special is that it is a bit secluded and very few tourists know about this lake. Unlike Pangong and Tsomoriri, this lake is smaller in size but offers all the spectacles like other lakes in ladakh. One can hike uphill to get a splendid sight of the lake. Yarab Tso is considered one of the holiest lakes in Nubra valley.
Yaya Tso, located at an altitude of 4,820 metres, is among the most beautiful lakes in Ladakh. The lake could be reached from Mahe monastery on the way to Tsomoriri Lake after driving up to the nunnery and then crossing a small mountain pass. The area in Yaya village is mostly covered by the lake. Yaya Tso is a nesting habitat for a large number of birds and animals, such as the bar-headed goose, black-necked crane and Brahminy duck. Yaya Tso also has the distinction of being one of the highest breeding sites of the black-necked crane in India.