Ladakh's tourism took an unprecedented turn after the Bollywood blockbuster 3 Idiots featured the glistening Pangong Lake. The aftermath? Tourists started flocking to Ladakh and made Pangong an icon. Nine years have passed since the film released and tourism to Ladakh lakes continues to grow exponentially.
I have observed that most of the people who visit Ladakh don't explore beyond the already-famous places and lakes like Pangong and Tso Moriri dictate their itineraries. I have thus compiled a list of lakes in Ladakh that aren't Pangong or Tso Moriri. Feel free to visit them if you like travelling differently!
Albeit not as popular as Pangong, Tso Kar also known as White Lake is a well known lake of Ladakh. Until a few years ago, the lake used to be an important source of Salt, which the Changpa nomads used to export to Tibet. The Ladakh lake is popular with bird watchers and accommodation near the lake can also be found.
Distance from Leh: 153km
The beautiful Yaye Tso is a hidden Ladakh lake. Unmarred by tourism, this apple shaped lake has a large marshland near it with numerous streams of water. Apart from some occasional nomads, the only visitors you'll find here are yaks, sheep and horses.
Distance from Leh: 172km
As you traverse Kaksang La, you'll spot Mirpal Tso, a shimmering water body nestled between mighty brown mountains of Ladakh. The pristine lake won't fail to bewitch you with its boundless beauty.
Distance from Leh: 206km
A little offroading followed by a 10-minute leisurely walk leads one to Yarab Tso, a small, crystal clear lake hidden between Nubra's mighty mountains. The lake water comes from underwater springs and locals often come here to pray, in hopes of getting their wishes fulfilled.
Distance from Leh: 140km
Situated close to its popular counterpart, Tso Moriri, people usually miss this gem of a Ladakh lake. Kiagar Tso is a saline lake with crystal clear water that looks turquoise in colour. Buddhist prayers inscribed on stone plates are a special attraction here.
Distance from Leh: 192km
Chagar Tso is another lake that's usually missed by tourists on their way to Pangong Lake. The small lake which almost looks emerald in colour offers captivating views and is worth making a pitstop at. One would usually find yaks meandering near the lake.
Distance from Leh: 135km
The isolated Ryul Tso is a brackish lake which is mostly visited with its twin lake, Chilling Tso, a sweet water lake. Both the lakes offer a quiet escape and are usually frequented by horses and yaks.