Ladakh In Winter – Across Chang La to Picturesque Pangong Part-1

Day 2:

With the permit in hand and a bright day forecasted, we were pretty confident to have a great day. Spoke Regzin last night and planned for a Pangong Day Trip. We neither had time nor had courage to stay the night in Pangong once Regzin shared the experience Alok, Jasdeep had and one of their friend was not well after that. Now day trip to Pangong means you have to start really early. In the winter, length of day is small as well, so we decided to start around 7.00 in morning, It was clear but sun had not come yet and outside was simply freezing. This was our first taste of harsh winter of Western Tibet, North of the Himalayas. On the way we were greeted by a brilliant sun rise and the red to orange to yellow to white transformation on the snow peaks couldn’t be expressed in words. We stopped beside Leh Manali Highway and tried to took couple of shots, I tried with my gloves off and could take hardly 2 snaps before I had to retreat. But then it was a scene you couldn’t afford to miss, so fight with nature was going on, gloves off, taking a quick snap, running back to car, put the hands on heater, gloves on and then again taking the courage to take another shot, these sequences were enacted for sometime, before we moved forward. At Karu, we had taken a tea break and that was really a break in that cold morning. We moved forward now towards Changla, but what it was, I couldn’t recognize the known places, those I visited couple of times, it looked like a journey on top of white carpet, sun ray was falling at the far on Wari La Top, making a serene experience. We moved forward, experienced a completely different view of Shakti from top, the famous Z in the road and the chill in the air was getting heavier as we proceeded towards Changla. We finally reached there and what a look!! Changla normally has snow always on top but this was an amazing view, the whole world was white out in front of us and barring a few army personnel and few dogs there was no living being in sight. Amazing it was!! The down slope towards Durbuk was changed as well, the whole stretch of sand zones were covered by snow, we faced black ice on the road and again it was Regzin whose experience made us through. He even keeps a shovel in car and dig some sands and dust and throw it on the bad sections to have a grip on the wheel, it was amazing to see how human being fights with nature to survive in harsh conditions. We reached Tangtse and ordered for our lunch and planned to take it on return, we had few cups of tea in the warm kitchen before we started for Pangong. No marmots, no sand stretch, it was all white, sometimes difficult to find the road other than tyre marks, we were keep going with that amazing experience and then reached the point of first view of Pangong, it usually a must stop for anyone visiting the lake, we couldn’t simply understand the point unless it was written in road side board. Really we couldn’t make out which was Pangong from there. The first view of the lake was unbelievable. Where the colorful lake gone? It was just frozen completely and covered with snow all around, we could identify the lake just by the plain lands in front of us on the backdrop of the mountains. Regzin asked us, if we wanted to go to lake or wanted to visit towards Spangmik, the unanimous choice was the lake and he drove straight into the lake, no Indian army was seen nearby, of course no boat to patrol and you could drive to China until you were caught by their army if you wish. Pangong experience couldn’t be written in words, see the snaps to feel it. It was a life time experience for all of us. We started our return and took a lunch break at Tangtse and the infamous wind started blowing since then, we thanked God that it was absolutely windless and sunny in Pangong. Once we were taking lunch we saw the clouds started coming and we knew it as IMD predicted a weak western disturbance on next day. So we hurriedly started for Leh, crossing Changla and came back to Leh by evening. A wonderful day came to an end, now weather was started getting gloomy, clouds were coming from all around and we went to sleep expecting a completely new experience on next day.

Golden Sunrise:

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The clouds are at their best:


Shakti with Wari La at background:


Shakti from Top:


Lovely Setting:


On the way to Changla:


Far away army camp:


Heavenly Changla:

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