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 Chang-la (18,000 feet / 5,475 m) which despite its great elevation is one of the easier passes, remaining open for much of the year even in winter, apart from periods of actual snowfall. Tangse, just beyond the foot of the pass, has an ancient temple.
But the main attraction of this circuit is the
, situated at 14,000 feet (4,267 m). A long narrow basin of inland drainage, hardly six to seven kilometer at its widest point and over 130km long, it is bisected by the international border between India and China.
in Ladakh is the world's highest brackish lake at 14,256 feet above sea level. A few years back the government decided to open it to tourists though the lake and its surrounding is under army surveillance.
The 160 km trip to
from Leh is one such experience.It begins with Thiksey village famous for its huge monasteries covering an entire mountain ridge. Beyond this remote village there is nothing but the extreme mountain ridge andranges for company. Occasionally we encountered either patrolling army men or Ladakhi families waving at us.
The long and narrow
stems in the neighbourhood of the famous Chushul mountains. The size of the
is best inferred from the probable etymology of its name, Pangong, which means extensive concavity.
is not just a tourists paradise but a geologistâ€™s domain too and if one is to brush up with political history, the place is a melting pot of confusion and for sure it in no fun for the army in the biting cold to take care of the strategic landscape.
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Spangmik, the farthest point to which foreigners are permitted, is only some seven km along the southern shore from the head of the
, but it affords spectacular views of the mountains of the Changchenmo range to the north, their reflections shimmering in the ever-changing blues and greens of the lake's brackish waters. Above Spangmik are the glaciers and snowcapped peaks of the Pangong range. Spangmik and a scattering of other tiny villages along the lake's southern shore are the summer homes of a scanty population of Chang-pa, the nomadic herds people of Tibet and south-east Ladakh
. The Pangong Chnag-pa cultivate sparse crops of barley and peas in summer. It is in winter that they unfold their tents (rebo) and take their flocks of sheep and pashmina goats out to the distant pastures.