Updated: May 12, 2022
Situated at a height of about 13,900 ft, the name Pangong is a derivative of the Tibetan word Banggong Co meaning "long, narrow, enchanted lake". One third of the lake is in India while the remaining two thirds lies in Tibet, which is controlled by China. Majority of the streams which fill the lake are located on the Tibetan side. Pangong Tso is about five hours drive from Leh in Union Territory of Ladakh. The route passes through beautiful Ladakh countryside, over Chang La, the third highest motorable mountain pass (5,289 m) in the world. The first glimpse of the serene, bright blue waters and rocky lakeshore remains etched in the memory of tourists. There is a narrow ramp-like formation of land running into the lake which is also a favorite with tourists. During winter the lake freezes completely, despite being saline water. The salt water lake does not support vegetation or aquatic life except for some small crustaceans. However, there are lots of water birds. The lake acts as an important breeding ground for a large variety of migratory birds like Brahmani Ducks, black necked cranes and Seagulls. One can also spot Ladakhi Marmots, the rodent-like creatures which can grow up to the size of a small dog. Pangong Tso lies on the Sino-Indian Line of Actual Control and hence requires an Inner Line Permit. Most of the lake is in Chinese-controlled territory. Owing to Pangong’s proximity to the border, tourists are only allowed to visit the lake upto the Spangmik village. For the hardcore adventure lovers, there is a camping site on the shore of Pangong. But do remember that the weather tends to get harsh after dusk. The place is a photographers’ delight and camping is the only option if you wish to see the sunset and the sunrise. The place is under consideration for inclusion in Ramsar Convention for the conservation of wetlands. When it happens, Pangong Tso will be the first transboundary wetland in South Asia under the convention. The lake has become a star attraction after being featured in the Rajkumar Hirani’s blockbuster 3 idiots. On October 20, 1962, Pangong Tso saw military action during the SinoIndian border conflict. Pangong Tso is still a delicate border point along the Line of Actual Control and for security reasons.
Source: Census of India, 2011