Ladakh – Journey to Pangong crossing Wari La & Chang La

01st October:

Our luck with weather was still continuing as we were in our tenth day of the trip and weather would play a crucial role for this day as we were to take Wari la – Changla route to reach Pangong from Nubra. Deskit – Khalsar was in normal route from where route towards Agham diverts and we gone through a completely desolate 31km drive where we were the only car. Excellent fun journey with Shyok river and lots of photo stops we reached Agham and here again two roads diverts, one through Wari La – Changla – Durbuk (total 134 km with 2 high passes) and other through Agham – Shyok – Durbuk route which doesn’t cross any pass and distance is only 66km. We enquired and a local portrayed a horrible picture of Agham – Shyok route and told the road was absolutely cut off in multiple places and we couldn’t reach there. We spoken to a BRO camp nearby and they said it’s under 93 RCC who owns that stretch and their HQ was at Shyok and they don’t have much idea on that part of the road but mentioned their supplies which earlier used to come through that road now stopped and currently brought through Wari La. Indication was clear that road was not through. We started our journey to Tangyar, the last village before the steep ascent of Wari La starts. This road was really desolate and the steepness would be hard to ignore, the lonely Scorpio was trying hard with snows around the road, the water source and nallas were semi frozen and a few yaks around are the only thing you could see apart from tall mountains around. We reached the top after almost a 40 km drive from Agham. The road was tarred all through and descent to Shakti was in even better condition. We were overjoyed after crossing Wari La and took a tea break in Shakti, a nice valley looks so beautiful with fall colors. Soon we started our ascent to Changla and reached the top without much difficulties and roads are superb from Shakti towards Changla and same remains good till Lukung where you reach the Pangong lake. At Durbuk, Regzin got diesels as we had a long route to take without any option of fuel. Here we spoke to 93 RCC on Agham – Shyok route and they told us categorically that road was not through but considering October water level, Scorpio could manage that road but then it was too late to utilize this great piece of information. Tangtse was very close in another 9km and we have enough time to approach the Pangong but we decided to take a break at Tangtse as it was 1000 ft lower than Spangmik and would help us to acclimatize at Changthang though we were already well acclimatized by then. But later we found our decision was good as we had light headache and suddenly feeling quite cold in that night, it’s highly recommended to stay a night at Tangtse specially if someone comes from lower height of Nubra directly. The best place to stay was Dothguling and luckily we got it completely vacant though people didn’t get any place to stay here for next few days, courtesy Puja Rush. Again Regzin managed the nice double room for Rs. 500/- here, offseason and Regzin’s bargaining skill was a lethal combo.

Khalsar to Agham with Shyok following us:


Tanjiyar Village, last village before ascent to Warila:


Approaching Wari La, Rivers started freezing down at that height:

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At Wari La Top:


Descent to Shakti:


Amazing Fall Colors at Shakti Valley:


Shakti Valley from Top, straight one towards Warila and right one towards Changla:


Towards Chang La:


At Chang La Top:


Tangtse Valley from Top:


02nd October:

We were little skeptic on the accommodation options at Spangmik and wanted to reach early there to evaluate the options and avail the best possible option what we could get. We already were informed most of the GH at Spangmik were closed for the season. Started around 8.00 in the morning from Tangtse and enroute took some time to spend with the marmots who are quite habituated in human interaction unlike the population we found in Zanskar. Some quick photo breaks and we are at Lukung where the famous Pangong Lake starts. With lots of snaps available across web and some Bollywood movies are shot, Pangong is quite a common name to all of us now but I felt a drastic change since I first time saw this heavenly lake in 2003. I remember we were only car in Sep begin for the 6 hours we spent in Lukung that time but this time at 10.00 am we found shops, tents, so many people around and lots of cars and that too in October. Hope the lake would survive along its fragile ecosystem under this tremendous onslaught of mass tourism. The famous 3-Idiots shooting actually started in Tsomoriri around middle of Sep 2008 and after a day shoot started, the whole region snowed out completely and that year the Sep snow was so heavy that thousands of people got stuck across Leh-Manali highway for 4/5 days. The crew cancelled the shooting and they came back next year (2009) July in Pangong as administration didn’t permit them to shoot at Tsomoriri during July as it was breeding time for migratory birds. That’s the way Pangong came into fame. The crew stayed at Dothguling GH in Tangtse for few days and they took snaps of all the actors/actresses at their GH, having lunch / dinner at their dining room and now have kept those snaps all across the GH.I was told by them that Aamir Khan was happy in this postponing of the shoot as in new schedule he got an opportunity to shoot the last scene at the fag end of shooting which was not possible if it would have been done as per original schedule in the beginning. Nothing surprising from a perfectionist like him though. We spent some time at Lukung though it was absolutely crowded and then moved towards Spangmik crossing few more shooting spots all of them are famous with the movie. At Spangmik the JKTDC GH which is now leased to locals were empty but they said they were winding up. After some requests they agreed to let us in and we got the nice double room just beside lake with attached toilets at 2500/- including all meals. Not really cheap but definitely cheaper than its actual price of 4500/- I was not really keen to bargain here as almost all the GH were closed down and we felt the chill last night at Tangtse itself which was 1000 ft lower. Checked in there, had hot tea and gone to lake side soon after. Here there was no crowd and you can enjoy the lake of your own. Great feelings to see the various shades of blue in the backdrop of brown and red mountains. Enjoyed the lake till evening but we started feeling the chilling wind across the lake as the time progresses and got an idea what to face in the night. The night was really cold and probably coldest in our whole trip and we found in morning the waters in buckets and pipes were frozen.

Friendly Marmots on the way to Lukung:


Magical Pangong Tso:

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At Spangmik, lake was belong to us, very few tourist and the blue with magical fall colors:

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JKSRTC Bus at Spangmik, frequency once in a week:


The lovely kid at Spangmik:


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