Camping at Pangong Lake

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Photo of Camping at Pangong Lake by Nikita Arora

Driving through the snow-capped Himalayan mountains, witnessing mesmerizing lakes, experiencing peace in monasteries and having tea breaks after long drives in the middle of nowhere- now that’s a perfect trip to Ladakh.

Photo of Pangong Lake by Nikita Arora

I visited Ladakh with my family in 2017, primarily because we’re all a big fan of rocky mountains and freezing temperatures. We visited in the month of September, which was the perfect time of the year for this travel destination.

This mountainous region in the State of Jammu and Kashmir has a lot of alluring points like the Leh palace, the Magnetic Hill or the Nubra Valley. However, the spot in this ‘land of high passes’ that stole my heart was the enchanting Pangong Lake.

As we drove through the rugged mountains, from Leh to the valley that held the lake, we saw a bright blue triangle in the middle of the brown arid landscape. It was a long five hour drive to this stunning location. While the drive (and the lack of oxygen!) had drained all our energy, as soon as we reached the area, all our exhaustion turned into excitement. We put on our winter clothes, layers and layers of warmth packed under our coats, and got ready to experience this chilling site.

Being a Bollywood buff, I have watched a fair share of scenes in Hindi movies that feature the Pangong lake- from the climax scene in 3 Idiots to the ‘Banjarey’ song in Fugly. Being exposed to these media pieces, I was somewhat prepared to witness a pretty spot.

But as I moved closer to the point, I realized that those movies don’t do justice to this mesmerizing location at all!

The striking blue water paired with the bright sky, the endless rocky mountains, the barren landscape, the colourful Buddhist prayer flags- all add a charm to this splendid area that the camera just can’t capture.

Photo of Pangong Lake by Nikita Arora

We spent about an hour adoring the region, numbing from the cold temperatures but still managing to click Insta-worthy pictures. Later, after sipping some warm coffee and gulping down hot momos at the Rancho Cafe, we left the main location, looking for a place to spend the night.

We had two accommodation options- staying at a hotel or camping near the 125km long Pangong Lake. Being the wild souls that we are, we obviously chose the latter!

Photo of Camping at Pangong Lake by Nikita Arora

By the time we reached our camping location and settled in, it was already dusk. The water was very close to our camp, less that half a kilometer. So, we defeated our fatigue, put an end to our laziness and went for a quick stroll alongside the lake. We chatted along the way, enjoyed the view and had another quick session of photographs.

On our way back, we could smell delicious food being cooked at our camp kitchen. Later in the evening, we relished an elaborate dinner, followed by hot gulab-jamuns.

Since it was too windy a night for bonfire, we stayed for a while in the dinner room itself, bonding with our travel buddies. After a fun night of laughter and games, we all went back to our tents, tucked ourselves into the blankets, and had a good night’s sleep.

The cold woke us all up a little earlier than usual, so we witnessed the sun rise through the rocky mountains. The reflection of the golden sun on the Pangong Lake increased the beauty of the region further. After having a heavy breakfast and biding farewell to everyone on our camp site, we started our journey back, cherishing the moments we spent at the picture-perfect site. ​​​

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