On the way to Durbuk from Shyok
The adrenaline rush on the way to Shyok was not over. We had another long two hours ride before we could reach our destination Pangong Lake. We left Shyok town on a downhill ride, the road leading us into a gorge with walls of mountains guarding the narrow yet well maintained road towards Durbuk. A beautiful river ran alongside the road.
The beauty was absolutely mesmerizing. Hassan Ji was excited that this summer he had camped with a group of French Tourists in this place with lots of fun, hiking, trekking and trout fishing. The half hour ride took us to a wide valley and the approaching small village indicated that we had reached Durbuk. Instead of going into the village we joined the Pangong-Chang La-Leh Road to our right, and from this point the road was an absolute beauty.
Shyok-Durbuk Road (Courtesy Google Maps, 2016)
Tangste Check Post
A milestone at the Durbuk-Pangong-Chang La Road cross indicated that our destination was another 44 Km away. The road to Tangste was a rider’s joy. The road pierced the valley floor in an almost straight ride.
Leaving Tangste Check Post
We picked up highway velocity with the grey mountains quickly changing their color and shades around the road. We soon reached Tangste Check post pausing for a short break where we had to sign and submit our permit forms as a statutory requirement for entering Pangong.
Durbuk to Pangong Tso Route (Courtesy: Google Maps, 2016)
On the way to Pangong Tso
The village Tangste was fast disappearing behind us, once we had again picked up speed – now climbing uphill into a rocky terrain. The mountains around us had amazing shades. Beyond Tangste hardly any village or house was visible. We were once again left alone in a no-man’s land, with just us and the nature.
We were left alone in a no-man’s land
We were getting late and it was quarter to four in the afternoon. Although we had bright sunlight around us, the retreating tourist vehicles on their way back from Pangong indicated that we would be the only ones at Pangong and this ran a sensation of thrill and anxiety.
The sight of snow clad mountains to our right eased things out
The sight of snow clad mountains to our right eased things out. It was getting cold like anything outside. Probably the temperature outside had already dropped way below the freezing point. The artificial heater effect of the SUV was in full swing and the frosted windows claimed it strongly.
In the kingdom of Tso (The peculiar moss cover in the valley floor)
The valley floor through which we were now moving was peculiar. It looked like a meadow with a velvety greyish grass like moss cover giving the entire valley an amazing dull look. Small brooks and streams were running down the valley in their natural madness the sight of which really touched our tired minds.
We were passing just below the snow-line
The dull, rocky mountains around us were now getting covered by more and more snow caps and the sight of the entire frame was getting better and better. Traces of vegetation whatever were present were fast disappearing as we probably entered a zone below the snow line.
The dull, rocky mountains around us were now getting covered by more and more snow
The amazing snow caps
On the way to Pangong Tso
The valley of lakes
We entered another valley where the mossy valley floor was shared by several shallow lakes. The sparse water looked amazingly blue. When we were closely passing through the side of one such lake, we found that the lake had already been partially frozen.
The frozen lakes..on the way to Pangong Tso
Hassan Ji put in, that we were lucky to visit Pangong in the first week of October, the way it was snowing, the place would soon be declared inaccessible for tourists.
Pangong: The First Look
Once we had left the valley of many lakes we were now climbing up on a rough terrain leaving the comfort of the well maintained Pangong Lake Road.
Just before the Magic Moment
The first view..Pangong Tso
We entered a ridge with high rocky walls surrounding us. After crossing a small bridge we came to a blind U turn. Good Heavens a mighty surprise was waiting for all of us on the other end of the U turn. It was none other than the “Blueness” of the Pangong Tso.
The Kingdom of Blueness..Pangong Tso
Its heavenly presence guarded all around by beautiful light grey mountains bathed by the evening sunlight. Enchanted by its beauty, attracted by the amazing sight of the Pangong lying wide open to us we forgot all the woes and exhaustion we had on our long journey from Nubra valley.
Pangong: Touching its Banks
We dropped our luggage in our camp. The owner “Uncle Ji” whom Hassan Ji introduced gave us a warm welcome and appreciated our stand to camp at the lake for an overnight stay and that to with our 9 year son with us.
The kingdom of Blueness…A wow moment
The beauty past compare..Pangong Tso
He asked us to have a look around the lake as the lights were expected to fade sharply at this hour of the evening. We found that our camp was hardly having any boarder, except a foreign couple who were busy shooting snaps at the Pangong’s Banks.
The Blue World
Lost in the Blue Madness..Pangong Tso
We wasted hardly any time to run downhill to the pebbled banks of Pangong, only to confront and get awestruck by the magnitude of its vast “Blueness”. It was probably “Bluer” than the sky above. The depth of blueness was perhaps purer than any ocean or anything blue known to this world. We surrendered ourselves completely to this “Blueness”.
The 3 Idiots Spot..Pangong Tso
The 3 Idiots Spot
The 3 Idiots spot
The mountains on the other side of the lake adored amazing shades of grey bathed by the last strong remains of the evening sunlight. It was beginning to get darker on our side as we walked towards the famous crescent banks of Pangong famed by the memoirs of the climax of the popular Bollywood blockbuster “3 Idiots” starring Aamir Khan and Kareena Kapoor.
The 3 Idiots yellow scooter
A yellow Bajaj scooter which might have been used in the climax scene of the movie was parked at this place for interested tourists. Our foreign co-tourist was obliging himself with a load-full of selfi shots using his iphone.
The Pangong Tso
Many shades of Pangong
Winds picking up at Pangong Tso
The banks of the lake from this point had nicely curved into the lake looking like the crescent moon. It was flanked by holy Tibetian flags.
Pangong Tso Unplugged
The strong evening breeze was having a toll on these poor flags. A sea gull was hovering way above us. Probably it was looking for something and may be another flight before the close of the day.
A memorable frame..Pangong Tso
The sun had just disappeared behind us in the cover of the mountains lying to our west. The entire place was suddenly encapsulated by an unbearable cold wave shaking the hell out of our bones.
A lone seagull on its way back home…
Evening in Pangong
The mountains adoring wonderful shades of grey suddenly turned dull and an aura of melancholy overshoot the entire valley and lakeshore probably mourning the end of the day. The last shades of daylight and the bite of the cold madness was hard to bear.
Amazing evening in Pangong Tso
Day coming to an end at Pangong Tso
The memorable Sunset Moment at Pangong Tso
As we returned to the camp, we were surprised to see fading shades of sunlight still capping the distant mountains on the other side of the lake. The campsite had a deserted look with just the three of us and Hassanji busy attending the SUV for the next day’s road trip back to Leh.
Deserted look at the Camp Site..Pangong Lake..7.oo pm
The foreign couple had probably decided to have another walk towards the North-east banks of Pangong. The camp owner “Uncle Ji” and his son were busy in the kitchen tent cooking our dinner.
Our Camp..Pangong Tso
It was a beautiful evening altogether. With the chilled breeze gone for quite some time, we were seated in the camp chairs sipping hot black tea and cookies. The moon and the stars had just taken over the sky illuminating the sky with their soft brilliance. We had to take an early dinner as the camp diesel gen set was allowed to play for only one and half hour after close of daylight.
This was probably the most adventurous, eventful day beginning with our amazing road trip from Nubra Valley all the way to the kingdom of “blueness” at Pangong. It would be a big lie if I said that we were not tired after the entire days spectacular adrenaline rush. But right here in the kingdom of blueness we all had experienced an amazing aura of peace and happiness.
Nightscape..Our Camp Site..Pangong Tso..7.45 pm
The day had now been completely taken over by darkness. With the camp lights now gone we experienced for the first time in life, how it felt to be completely all alone under the stars. With the cold winds picking up for the “to be” harsh night we decided to take refuge under the cover of the sleeping bags and heavy blankets.