Surajtal Lake Not that hidden but Surajtal is always overlooked because of Chandratal Lake. Good for those who want to explore some place peaceful and serene. Located right next to Baralacha Pass, Surajtal is also the third highest lake of India. Surajtal’s backdrop is way more beautiful than any of the lakes in Himachal Pradesh. Surrounded by the gorgeous Zanskar Mountains, it is a treat to experience this kaleidoscope of scenic beauty. This lake is also the source of Bhaga River that flows further to merge into Chandra river.
We had to skip the challenging and delightful trekking to the beautiful and pristine Suraj tal lake as we haven’t started with much time in our hands. By now it was dark, we camped in for the day in the plains of Sarchu (14500 feet) - amidst a treasure trove of picture-perfect scenic majestic mountains.Early next morning, we woke up to the noise of the winds and the gentle noise of the soft drizzles on the tent. We resumed the journey. Passing sarchu we arrived at a series of 21 hairpin bends looping down called Gata loops- a stunning region nestled in the Western Himalayas which then climbs up towards Nakeeela pass 15547ft. As we travelled along the hairpin bends and curves, we had this rush of wandering and wondering the crispiness of the thrill and adventure the terrain offers.If you are lucky you may spot Bharal- Blue mountain sheep grazing. The climb up the Lachulung La is nothing spectacular but it opens up to a whole new world on the other side.Lachulung La - Pang - Morey Plains - Tanglang La : Across the Zanskar Plateau, the Lachung la (16616ft) boasts of undulating views of the entire Ladakh plateau in some sweeping glance of your eyes.After crossing Lachulung La, the landscape changes where the road meanders through a canyon snaking down to a tented settlement Pang where the highest army transit camp exists and is perfect for a resting break amidst beautiful surrounding scenery. Further the landscape opens up into the dramatic flat stretch of Morey plains where one may occasionally spot Tibetan wild asses-Kiang grazing the plains here and maybe even a red tailed fox or two. At the end of the Morey plains, the road climbs up towards the Tanglang La(17500ft)- highest mountain pass in the Ladakh region. Claimed to be the second highest motorable mountain pass in the world; this is where we had our heart in mouth! We were at level with the snow clad peaks surrounding us. Colorful prayer flags were strung around. With a spectacular 360 degree vision, we felt on top of the world! Tanglang La –Upshi – Karu - Leh From Tanglang La the road descends steeply towards the the heart of Ladakh. The highway meets the Indus valley at a picturesque village called Upshi. Towards the east of this region is an ancient trading route that is connected to Tibet. Crossing Karu, another paradisiacal village flanked by lofty mountain peaks, its a smooth ride along the Indus to Leh.We finally rested ourselves on our arrival to Leh. The journey was an exquisite delight with sparkling streams, resplendent valleys and majestic mountains throughout. We could not just take our eyes off the road.In this secluded bliss, the experience was so inexplicable and surreal that we were left charmed by the manifestations of nature to its very best.
Day 11 - We left from Tsomoriri early in the morning at 7 to meet our original driver at a particular spot on the Leh-Manali highway (was now open). After being lost for over 3 hours after leaving Tsomoriri we reached Tso Kar lake passing which, we reached the Leh - Manali Highway where after waiting for more than 3 hours we could rendezvous with our original Force Traveller. As we left for Manali which was another 400 kms from that place, it was already 2pm and and chances of making it to Manali on that very day were very slim. As the time passed by, the sun kept on going down and we were still nowhere due to the hairpin curved roads across the highway. After coming almost 150 kms from the exchange, it was almost 9 pm and we were literally lost in the middle of a snow mountain with a road which could hardly accommodate a human beside the Traveller we were in. Later on, it turned out that, that particular road was along Surajtal Lake on the Leh-Manali Highway. At around 11 in the night we were able to reach the next habitable city which was Keylong, where we decide to bunk in a hotel so that our driver could catch up on some sleep.
After crossing Jispa, enjoy this gorgeous view of Surajtal, the beautiful emerald like lake that lies just below the Baralacha la pass and is also the third highest lake in India. We made a pitstop at Zing Zing bar and enjoyed the community camping. This was the coldest place that we came across with temperature going below 5 degree, so carry your warmest jacket, woollen caps and gloves. We were lucky enough to enjoy the full moon night. Experience the sleep in tents under a blanket of stars on this night.