Ladakh is not without its share of natural, visual marvels and lakes are a big part of its humbling landscapes. Within the modest landmass it occupies, the Cold Desert of Kashmir has 3 beautiful lakes – Pangong Tso Lake, Tsomoriri Lake and Tsokar Lake – each more awe inspiring than the other. In fact, not many know that the Pangong Tso changes colors with every hour and turns from emerald green color to varying hues of sky and velvet blue.
The best time to visit these lakes is between the months of May and September as during the winter months, these high-altitude lakes get frozen.
Here are the popular lakes of Ladakh:
Chagar Tso Lake
Located on the way to Pangong Lake, Chagar Tso is one more beautiful lake in Ladakh. Though the lake is small but it is worth-visiting.
Pangong Tso Lake
World’s highest salt lake, Pangong Lake is the most popular lake of Ladakh that is around 160 km from Leh. India owns only one-third of this lake, the rest of it is in Tibet, a region controlled by China. This endorheic lake is placed at an altitude of around 14,270 feet. The length of the lake is 134 km and it is positioned on the Changtang plateau in eastern part of Ladakh.
Also known as the ‘Hollow Lake’, its brackish water appears in different colors fur to sunlight. The lake and its surroundings are truly magical and simply mesmerizing. During winter season, the lake gets frozen, hardened like a road. This lake then becomes the venue of a gala festival of ice skating, which is attended by a huge number of skiers from all around the world. The area of lake is under the Indian army. While Indian nationals do not need any permit to visit the lake, foreign tourists require a permit that can be obtained for a small fee from deputy commissioner of Leh.
Drive via the attractive and serene countryside, through the world’s third highest motorable mountain pass- Chang La to arrive at the lake. The best time to Pangong Tso is from June to September.
Tso Moriri Lake
Lake Moriri or Tso Moriri is a lake in the Changthang area, and is positioned at an altitude of 15,075 feet in Jammu and Kashmir. This lake is positioned amid Ladakh to the North, Zanskar to the West and Tibet to the East. It is one of the largest of the high- altitude lakes in the Trans-Himalayan region in India. Korzok village is another popular attraction here.
Fed by 2 streams and springs, Tso Moriri in 2002 was declared a Wetland of International Importance under the Ramsar Convention. It is also fed by melting water from the closely placed ice masses. The lake, home to a vast variety of flora and fauna, is 19 km in length and 7 km in width. The lake gets completely freezes in the winter months and you can even walk on it. Bird watching is a popular activity here as the lake attracts as many as 34 avifauna species.
Located at a distance of around 15 km from Diskit region of Nubra Valley, Yarab Tso Lake is surrounded by the scenic village of Sumur. An uphill walk of around 15-20 minutes from the Panamaik village takes you to the stunning site of this lake.
One of the high-altitude lakes in Nubra Valley, Yarab Tso Lake is also known to be a sacred lake. On the crystal clear water bed of the lake, you can view the barren and rocky landscape of the surrounding area.
Mirpal Tso Lake
Tranquil and completely secluded, Mirpal Tso is placed close to Chusul. The southern end of this lake contains fresh water and the lake’s bed is sandy.
Kiagar Tso lake
Placed on the way to Tso Moriri, Kiagar Tso is another striking lake of the region and lies in the Changthang plateau. The surroundings of the lake are the dwellings of Changpas, the nomadic people of Ladakh. Tso Moriri and Kiagar Lake are 10 km away from each other.
Kiagar Tso or Kyaghr Lake is 3 km long, 22 m deep and 1.5 km wide. This lake with brackish water the place where a number of trekkers halt before moving forward to Kiangdum camping ground near the Tso Moriri. The site is 22 km away from here. The lake lies enroute Ladakh to Spiti in the Himachal Pradesh state.