Just about 160 km from Leh is a beautiful lake named the Pangong Lake in Ladakh. A drive to this lake will result in one of the most wonderful experiences. The journey begins at Thiksey village, which is famous for its huge monasteries covering an entire mountain range. And beyond this remote village there is nothing but the vast expanse of extreme mountain ranges for company. An interesting observation of the topography throughout this journey is that they throw off all calculations of distance somewhat like a mirage-effect, what looked to be a ten-minute crossing easily requires an hour or more!
Formerly, Pangong Tso had an outlet to the Shyok River, a tributary of Indus River, but it was closed off for natural damming purpose. Two streams feed the lake from the Indian side, forming marshes and wetlands at the edges. Lines above the current lake level reveal a 16 ft thick layer of mud and laminated sand, suggesting the theory that the lake has shrunken recently in geological scale.
At Darbuk village near Tangste Valley stands a chain of war memorials in commemoration of the soldiers who lost their lives during the Indo-Chinese war of 1962. Some of the historic army bunkers and trenches present here, are still in use. Villagers along with their large herds of Pashima sheep and long tailes yaks can be seen in these villages.
It is one of the most beautiful places in India but the serene tranquil Pangong Lake is not just a tourist’s paradise. It is also a geologist’s domain. And also, from the political perspective, this 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.