Friday, August 10, 2012
Pangong Lake (Ladakh) - one of the highest and largest lake in Asia
Pangong Lake also called Pangong Tso or Banggong Co (Tibetan) is an endorheic lake in the Himalayas situated at a height of about 4,350 m (14,270 ft). It is 135 km long one of the largest lake in Asia. Its area falls under both India and China. One third of it is in India and remaining in China.
Pangong Tso is in disputed territory. The Line of Actual Control passes through the lake. A section of the lake approximately 20 km east from the Line of Actual Control is controlled by China but claimed by India. The eastern end of the lake is in Tibet and is not claimed by India. The western end of the lake is not in dispute.
Pangong Tso can be reached in a five-hour drive from Leh, most of it on a rough and dramatic mountain road. The route passes through beautiful Ladakh countryside, over Chang La, the third highest motor able mountain pass (5289 m) in the world. An Inner Line Permit is required to visit the lake as it lies on the Sino-Indian Line of Actual Control. For the hardcore adventure lovers, there is a camping site on the shore of Pangong. The place is a photographers’ delight and camping is the only option if you wish to see the sunset and the sunrise.
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, Rare 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.
On October 20, 1962, Pangong Tso saw military action during the Sino-Indian border conflict. Pangong Tso is still a delicate border point along the Line of Actual Control and for security reasons, boating is prohibited on the Indian side.
The place is under consideration for inclusion in Ramsar Convention for the conservation of wetlands. When it happens, Pangong Tso will be the first trans-boundary wetland in South Asia under the convention.
The lake has become a star attraction after being featured in the Rajkumar Hirani’s blockbuster 3 idiot. Apart from 3 Idiots, Pangong Tso has been featured in quite a few movies and songs, because it is one of the most beautiful lakes in India and is a photographer’s delight, as it changes hues every few hours.