Should you visit the crowded Pangong Lake?

On the way to Pangong Lake, my motorbike started huffing and puffing close to Chang-La. The steep climb tired the bike before it made it to the world’s third highest motorable road that stands close to 17,600 feet.

To let the bike catch its breath and cool itself, we halted. During the waiting period, I saw cars zipping by. Out of curiosity, I started counting them. After a while, I lost count.

The bike did start after few minutes but it wasn’t free of issues. All the four travelers consented that we call for a car for further journey. Free from the mechanical worries of my bike, my mind wandered to the number of cars that had passed us.

The journey that seemed adventurous at first lost its thrill when I saw people of all ages using the same road to reach the common destination.

“This many people? The lake will be crowded and full of restaurants set up to serve these tourists,” I thought.

Whenever we stopped, the conversations with locals revolved around the same subject – 3 Idiots film. It’s folklore that enchanting location in the climax was Pangong Lake. Our driver, usually a quiet man, was filled with excitement when we reached the lake. “This, that, and over there are locations shown in the film,” he enthusiastically informed us.

On reaching, I was still shock at the number of people strolling along the lake and shops that were set up to cater these tourists. The area around the shops was littered with Lays and Kurkure and other fried snack plastic covers. Plastic bottles were resting among these.

I reached my lowest (or the saddest) point of the Ladakh trip.

Quiet and lost, I was strolling along the banks of the never-ending lake. A family of bar headed geese appeared out of nowhere and was floating along. Two elders occupied the front and the last row. Three goslings were between them – all moving with a purpose. It felt as if the two older geese were on their way to take kids out for dinner and they were running late.

Watching them calmed me. I started to look for other birds and animals. A flock of black headed gulls flew over my head, some were basking the sun in the marshy area, and orange colored brahmini duck joined them in the sun bath.

As I looked more, the better it got. The lake kept changing colors. Rather I could not see one consistent color in the water – one part sky blue and another dark blue, one part emerald green, one part dull muddy.

Visitors describe the lake with adjectives like gorgeous, stunning, exquisite and others. It is all of it. I think I needed a reason to like it and I found mine.

Author: Tinesh Bhasin

Presently, a freelance writer, he has worked as a business journalist for over seven years


  1. Swati Jaiswal says:

    Well After reading this article I think if I go on Leh Ladakhh trip, I will probably avoid visiting here….

  2. Resham Virk says:

    Tinesh when I visited this lake in 1991 I saw this lake in its virgin form and there was just purity and serenity around. Yes things change with tourists going there but the actual beauty of the place remains untouched. I just hope no concrete structure comes up. That will ruin the lake completely.


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