If you are an admirer of nature, peace and serenity, then crowded tourist spots with selfie and photography points would definitely not attract you. Photographs of Bollywood inspired yellow scooters and colourful seats and over enthusiastic tourists posing for photographs along the bank of Pangong Tso flooding the social media might force you to believe that Pangong Tso has lost its old charm. So, today I would reveal to you a secret destination where you can re-discover the beauty of the Pangong Tso and experience the peace and serenity that your soul was craving for.
Merak is a small hamlet located just 15kms from the Indo-China border, on the bank of Pangong Tso. This village has experienced Indian Army activities during the recent Indo-China combat. This postcard perfect village is surrounded by the lofty brown mountain ranges on all sides and is bordered by the azure waters of the Pangong Tso. During the months of summer, snow from the surrounding mountain peaks melt and flow down forming little streams which crisscross the village. These water streams make the green grass grow everywhere and the villagers cultivate their land to grow vegetables and wheat.
The green wetland in this Oasis of Merak is home to a number of animals. We spotted marmots and bunnies and beautiful birds. We crossed the small hillocks , jumped over the flowing rivulets , examined the purple grass flowers and made wishes while blowing dandelions. We were the only ones walking towards Pangong Tso that day. We watched the sunset while listening to the blue waters lapping on the bank.
This beautiful oasis is dotted with tiny homestays where you can experience the hospitality of the simple hearted villagers and have dinner in ladakhi style dinning rooms. One can watch the villagers farming their lands and the children playing around. When the lights go off and darkness engulfs the valley, millions of twinkling stars light up the night sky.
We stayed at the Zamthapa homestay which was immensely comfortable and the food was great. Ours hosts gave us a warm welcome and even suggested us to call back to our parents and inform them that we are safe because when in Merak no network would work on your phones. You would be away from calls and internet and social media and just be lost-lost in the beauty of the brown mountains and the sapphire lake.
Where to stay?
Zamthapa Guest house is one of the best places to stay when in Merak. The rooms are comfortable with all basic amenities and the food is delicious. The rooms are provided with large windows from where the sunrise from behind the mountains can be experienced.
Merak - This name would remain etched in my heart forever. The peace of the Pangong Lake and the mountains have deeply percolated into our souls.
No,Pangong can never be over-rated , Pangong can never be devoid of beauty. This vast stretch of blue has hidden gems around every nook and corner waiting to be discovered.
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