And here’s the last one for the road. The much hyped Pangong Tso lake. Our last stop before we left for the arduous journey back to Srinagar. We had been amply warned to expect a hoard of happy picnicking tourists, posing for photographs everywhere. 3 Idiots has really put this place on the map. There are reminders of the movie all around the lake! Anyway, more of that later. Pangong Tso is about 150 kms from Leh. Its a saline lake with a length of almost 135 kms! More than half of it is in China.
The way to Pangong is as beautiful as everything else in Leh is. Snake like roads weaved into mountains, sudden greens, ups and downs, sand like terrain, random yaks and horses. I can’t explain enough how charming that place can be. You reach a point from where the lake suddenly becomes visible. The sheer size of it will stun you.
I was expecting people swarming in that place. Had almost braced myself for all the noise we humans are capable of in such amazing places. To our utter joy (and maybe luck), the place was quite deserted. An odd group here and there.You can see references to the movie everywhere. There’s a dhaba too by that name. Pangong Tso is way prettier than what you have seen on TV. Absolutely breathtakingly beautiful! We really regretted not camping there for a night. Heard the Eco Huts there are pretty decent. We were there for barely a few hours. Sat by the lake, threw stones in. Dipped our feet too, only to realise later that it was frowned upon. Slept by the lake side for a while. There is something about the sound of water gently hitting the shore. Puts you at ease with the world.
Leh had pleasantly surprised us pretty much everyday with unexpected scenery, snow fall and all things beautiful. On this day, we saw a rainbow circle around the sun! Definitely a first for me. Nature can be such a show off sometimes. 🙂 Then, as we walked a little ahead, saw the perfect reflection of the hills in the lake water. It was so perfectly congruous; almost looked like someone had planned it like that.
Our time in Leh was done. It was time for us to head back to Srinagar for our flight to Delhi. Averse to all things routine, we decided to take the off beaten track to Srinagar, just to get a glimpse of the Aryan Village on the way. What ensued was not pleasant. The said route is one which no one (except army) opts for. We just drove through Aryan Village (which was a 40 km detour) and there wasn’t much to see. While we were on the top of a mountain, we got a flat tyre. To add to the misery, our stepney was flat too! The road was deserted; and the few odd vehicles which crossed us had no help to offer. So, the guys hitched a ride from a truck to go to the nearest village to get the tyre fixed. As per Murphy’s law, everything that had to go wrong that day, did go wrong! It was Id, and almost every shop was closed. Took a whole lot of pleading to get the job done. To top it, there was no network where we were stranded. So, we were clueless on what the guys were upto. Dusk was fast setting in, and the mountains in front of us was Pakistan (I kid you not!). To cut a long story short, don’t take that route without a functional stepney. Rather, don’t take that route!
Reached Srinagar the next day afternoon, just in time to catch a really heavy Kashmiri lunch. Went to the airport and took our respective flights back home. The 10 day trip had flown by. Cars and buildings seemed outrageous after what we had seen for the past ten days. All I would say is if you haven’t seen Leh yet, you really haven’t been swept off your feet!
Panchok Bhaiya’s Details –
He will guide you with the passes you need for various places.