Pangong Tso Lake
Pangong Tso (or Pangong Lake; Tso: Ladakhi for lake) is an endorheic lake in the Himalayas situated at a height of about 4,350 m (14,300 ft). It is 134 km (83 mi) long and extends from India to China. 60% of the length of the lake lies in China. The lake is 5 km (3.1 mi) wide at its broadest point. During winter, the lake freezes completely, despite being saline water.
The lake is in the process of being identified under the Ramsar Convention as a wetland of international importance. This will be the first trans-boundary wetland in South Asia under the convention.
Sino-Indian border dispute
Main article: Origins of the Sino-Indian border dispute
Pangong Tso is geographically situated in a disputed territory, claimed both by India and China. After mid-19th century, Pangong Tso was southern end of so-called Johnson Line, a first attempt of demarcation between India and China in the Aksai Chin region.
The Khurnak Fort ( 33°46'00?N 79°00'00?E? / ?33.766667°N 79.000000°E? / 33.766667; 79.000000) lies on the on the northern bank of the lake, halfway of Pangong Tso. The Chinese controlled Khurnak Fort area by end of 1952, as is the situation today.
On October 20, 1962, Pangong Tso saw military action during the Sino-Indian War, successful for People's Liberation Army.
Pangong Tso is still a delicate border point along the Line of Actual Control. Incursions from Chinese side are common..
Flora, fauna and geography
The brackish water of the lake is devoid of any micro-vegetation. Guides report that there are no fish or other aquatic life in the lake, except for some small crustaceans. On the other hand, visitors see numerous ducks and gulls over and on the lake surface.
There are some species of scrub and perennial herbs that grow in the marshes around the lake.
The lake acts as an important breeding ground for a variety of birds including a number of migratory birds. During summer, the Bar-headed goose and Brahmini ducks are commonly seen here. The region around the lake supports a number of species of wildlife including the kiang and the Marmot.
Formerly, Pangong Tso had an outlet to Shyok River, a tributary of Indus River, but it was closed off due to natural damming. Two streams feed the lake from the Indian side, forming marshes and wetlands at the edges. Strand lines above current lake level reveal a 5 m (16 ft) thick layer of mud and laminated sand, suggesting the lake has shrunken recently in geological scale.
Getting to Pangong Tso
Pangong Tso can be reached in a five-hour drive from Leh, most of it on a rough and dramatic mountain road. The road crosses the villages of Shey and Gya and traverses the third-highest pass in the world, the Changla pass, where army sentries and a small teahouse greet visitors. Road down from Changla Pass leads through Tangste and other smaller villages, crossing river called Pagal Naala or "The Crazy Stream". The spectacular lakeside is open during the tourist season, from May to September.
An Inner Line Permit is required to visit the lake as it lies on the Sino-Indian Line of Actual Control. While Indian nationals can obtain individual permits, others must have group permits (with a minimum of four persons) accompanied by an accredited guide; the tourist office in Leh issues the permits for a small fee. For security reasons, India does not permit boating.