Remoteness of Changthang | Ladakh 2012

56

The Journey so far…

Day 5 | Hanle – Loma – Tsaga – Chusul – Pangong Tso

It was a very cold last night and we were late waking up in he morning at around 7.30 AM. The extra blanket which we got from the lady proved quite useful in the end and were able to sleep nicely in such cold conditions. There was no question of bath at Hanle 🙂 … When I went out of house, it was beautiful morning at Hanle as the cold wind had settled down and there was a nice view of Observatory, clear blue skies and a picturesque pastures with horses grazing in them. I could not hold myself and as we asked Rigzin and lady to prepare the breakfast, me and Himanshu went to the pastures to capture some lovely moments. We spent about half an hour at the pastures land among the horses and after a very lovely experience amidst nature, came back for the breakfast. Again, the aaloo paranthas cooked were nice and we even took 4-5 with us. By 9.00 AM, we were on the road to Pangong Tso from Hanle.

A Beautiful Morning at Hanle…
A Beautiful Morning at Hanle
A Distant View of Hanle Observatory…
A Distant View of Hanle Observatory
Let’s Get Closer… Hanle Observatory…
Let's Get Closer to Hanle Observatory
Pastures of Hanle…
Pastures of Hanle
Handsome Horse at Hanle…
Handsome Horse at Hanle
Handsome Horse at Hanle… Another one…
Handsome Horse at Hanle
Ohh.. That’s Himanshu…
Ohh... That's Himanshu...
Oops… That’s me…
Dheeraj Sharma at Hanle Pasture Land in Ladakh
A Cattle at Hanle…
A Cattle at Hanle

The road to Loma from Hanle was in great shape and it did not take much time to reach Loma. Rigzin has quite a good knowledge of cars, models, make etc. and we constantly chatted with him on the subject and some fun of our dear friend Tejas who wanted to bring his Scorpio when he goes adult 🙂 … Rigzin also shared a story of a foreigner whom the travel agents and hotel guys in Kashmir almost looted by all means charging him over 250% charges for almost everything and how he cried after Rigzin dropped him to Manali. He still writes to this lovely man, Rigzin. Anyways, when we reached Loma, we were stopped by the army personally again and as I stepped out, a strict warning of not shooting bridge. I smiled and said, I need those reflections only 😉 … Chatted with the army guys over there for 10-15 minutes as Rigzin finished the formalities inside the post and again were into the unknown remoteness of barren Changthang.

Running all the way to Loma…
Running all the way to Loma
Reflections at Loma…
Reflections at Loma

The roads from excellent condition had gone to good and our aim was to reach Tsaga quickly. No one was around and we were the only one running all over the heaven. Everywhere I saw, it was beauty at its best. Sunlight playing with shadows making it a perfect picture shot but it was bad news for us as the weather ahead towards Chusul – Pangong Tso was completely overcast. Overcast weather meant no colours of beautiful Pangong Tso but with rays of hope we continued, we never had another choice… As we reached Tsaga village the tarred road ended and the arduous journey right up to Lukung (Pangong Tso) started with the dirt track. Tsaga Police post was manned and we didn’t have Tsaga written on our permit but the army guy permitted us to get through as we had Chusul permissions but with a warning that next time be sure to write Tsaga as well. Weather was dark ahead of the village giving it a dramatic landscape… I still poses that feeling remoteness which was there amidst raw and harsh nature, it was lovely. We passed the remote high village and reached Tsaga La where were were greeted by mild snowfall. You could rightly feel the presence of army around you all over this remote track of Changthang. You are neither allowed to off-road nor you are allowed to camp anywhere in Changthang for security reasons, so be careful doing so and avoid it at any cost.

Remote and Beautiful… Changthang…
Remote and Beautiful Changthang Valley
Machine to Extract Pashmina Wool…
Machine to Extract Pashmina Wool
And the Road Ends… Tsaga Village…
And the Road Ends at Tsaga Village
Dark Clouds at Tsaga Village
Dark Clouds at Tsaga Village
Dark Clouds at Tsaga Village
Dark Clouds at Tsaga Village
Dark Clouds at Tsaga La
Dark Clouds at Tsaga La
Dark Clouds at Tsaga La
Dark Clouds at Tsaga La
Do You Call Them Roads??? Pangong Tso to Tso Moriri…
Pangong Tso to Tso Moriri Road in Changthang in Ladakh
Do You Call Them Roads??? Pangong Tso to Tso Moriri…
Pangong Tso to Tso Moriri Road in Changthang in Ladakh
Do You Call Them Roads??? Pangong Tso to Tso Moriri…
Pangong Tso to Tso Moriri Road in Changthang in Ladakh

We moved on towards Chusul, where we planned to have some tea or snacks. It was almost like cloud was with us right on the ground and we were running through the cloud which was pouring down as snow. We passed by Rezang La about 16000 feet, south-east of Chusul valley. It was here, our 114 out of 123 brave Ahir soldiers of C Company, led by Major Shaitan Singh sacrificed their lives to protect our country in Sino-Indian War in 1962 and on China side, casualties were reported more than 1000 Haqeeqat movie starring Dharmendra, was based on the battle of Rezang La. Going ahead, you get to see another war memorial that is Chusul War Memorial which was built to commemorate Indian Army for the victory of Sino-Indian War in 1962. A Salute to the Indian Army… Jai Hind!!!

Rezang War Memorial near Chusul Valley…
Rezang War Memorial near Chusul Valley
Remoteness at its Best… Nearing Chusul…
Remoteness at its best near Chusul

As you approach Chusul, you can see the mountains across to the side of Tibet. When we reached Chusul, a big village, we went into the Police station to submit the permits. You need to take care that at Chusul, you need to go and submit the permits at Chusul Police Station which is right on the road itself because there is no police checkpost. So, do submit the permits at the station. We stopped over near a tea shop and had team and maggie and the packed paranthas from the breakfast. It was cold in Chusul, though the sun was shining between the dark clouds but it was very much overcast ahead towards Pangong Tso shattering the hopes of beautiful blue hues in this high altitude lake. We resumed the journey on the dirt, very much bumpy, arduous track and somehow I was imagining in my mind when I could drive my dZire here, may be at the time when I want to sell her off 😉 … If you look carefully, you can easily spot the bunkers at the Chinese side, it is so close to Indo-China border and that is why it is extremely important to respect and understand the sensitivity of the terrain and not create a nuisance.

The Calm Chusul Village…
The Calm Chusul Village
The Calm Chusul Village
The Calm Chusul Village
Under-Construction… A Direct Road from Chusul to Tso Moriri
A Direct Road from Chusul to Tso Moriri under construction

Finally, the first blue views of beautiful Pangong Tso lake at the point where it starts to turn into China/Tibet side. The lake was melted there but lacked that shining blue pallet due to overcast conditions. It was so majestic to see how such a large piece of water body meandering its was from one country to another amidst majestic views… We kept ogling the vista for another 15-20 minutes before deciding to move ahead, run much closer with Pangong Tso to finally reach Tangste for overnight stay. But, lots of things happened in between 🙂

Pangong Tso… The First View from Chusul Side…
Pangong Tso Lake, The First View from Chusul Side...
As Pangong Tso Goes Into Tibet Here…
As Pangong Tso Goes Into Tibet Here
As Pangong Tso Goes Into Tibet Here…
As Pangong Tso Goes Into Tibet Here...
A Pile of Horns Near Pangong Tso…
A Pile of Horns Near Pangong Tso

The Journey ahead…

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56 Comments

  1. Dear Dheeraj,

    Is it possible to do the Pangong-Moriri-hanle route on motorbikes?
    Are motor bikes allowed on this route or travel is strictly restricted to Cars and SUvs?

    Eagerly awaiting your reply

  2. Wow, That sounds great :-). Looking forward to seeing you there and enjoy Leh Berry tea :-).BTW, Do you think I could see the “golden autumn” in Ladakh on those days of Sept? Thank you.

  3. Awesome pictures! Your photos inspires me alot and i am planning for Ladakh trip this year. Please can you let me know exactly when did you take this pictures? is it at the end of September? Thanks in advance.

      • Thanks for your information. I’ve read nearly all your travel articles on Ladakh and known that your favourite month is September. And I am going to visit Ladakh from 22 to 27 Sept,2013. I’d love to see the color of autumn. Would the tree leaves turn to golden(or red)at that time? Many thanks.

  4. Hi Dheeraj,

    I spoke to couple of taxi drivers regarding the following itinerary in august and they are quoting 26000 for three days:
    Day 1: leh to tso moriri via mahe bridge
    Day 2: tso moriri to pangong tso via chushul
    Day 3: pangong tso to leh via the usual route

    What is your opinion about the price quoted and the route chosen by us…

      • No Dheeraj. I have not got permits….. I later realized that they are not issuing…
        So if I have three days in hand, can I do a day trip to pangong and two day trip to tso moriri with a overnight stay…. And while going to tso moriri, can I go till hanle via Nyoma loma? Or they are not issuing permits for this as well…

        • Ganesh, yeah they have stopped since last year. Do day trip to Pangong and 2 day trip to Tso Moriri. Regarding trip to Hanle, you can do Leh to Hanle on first day and then next day Hanle to Tso Moriri and then Tso Moriri to Leh or Sarchu towards Manali side.

  5. Dheeraj,you have got something in your writing skills. Hats Off.
    Would you take your Dzire on these routes or wait for SUV?

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  9. Hi Dheeraj… Its really nice to find devil on wheels…infact i feel, one can travel thru your pages only..excellent work…execellent initiative…
    We are planning Ladakh by road and most probably shall start from srinagar by 12/13th sept. We are a bit confused about turtuk and padum… It wud be great if we get some suggestion (also some information plz, specially aboutDarcha, Padum, zanskar region etc.) on, if we have to choose one, then… Turtuk or Padum?

    • Thanks alot Calpu!! As per personal choice,I will always prefer Zanskar as a dedicated trip but even if you have 3-4 days then only you can do Padum(Zanskar). On the other hand Turtuk just needs a day more in the itinerary. So, depending upon the number of days in hand, you can make the choice.

      Regards
      Dheeraj Sharma

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  12. Hi Dheeraj,

    I guess your blog has most useful information available over net for Leh-Ladakh. I am planning a trip to Leh-Ladakh (along with my wife).

    We are planning to start from Kolkata and
    Day 1: Reach Delhi by flight on 12th August
    Day 8: Return to Bangalore by flight on 19th August (either from Leh or any other place depending on the plan).

    Can you suggest me how can I plan the trip within these days?

    Regards
    Deb

    • Hello Deb,

      Thanks alot for liking the information present on the blog. I suppose you are flying to Leh from Delhi as well and back again to Delhi and then to Kolkata. Otherwise, road journey is not possible within these many days. For 7 day trip to Leh you may like to follow a plan like below:

      Day 1 | Delhi – Leh (By Flight)
      — Checkin at Hotel. Many hotels provide free pick and drop from Airport. Ask while you book them.
      — Take ample of rest as well as water or anything that keep your body hydrated enough. DO NOT OVER HYDRATE. Take ORS Soluted water or ORS – L tetra packs from home.
      — Do not over exert your body at any cost. Avoid too much up-down on stairs or avoid it in entirety, if possible.
      — After 5-6 Hrs of rest you can visit Leh Palace, Local Leh market, Shankar Gompa .
      — If you feel exerted go back to Hotel, have dinner at Hotel and take rest. Avoid any exertion. Else continue and,
      — Follow the sunset by stroll at Changspa road and have a nice dinner on varied cuisines offered in-around Changspa road.
      — Go back to hotel for overnight stay at Leh.
       
      Day 2 | Leh Local Sighseeing + Inner Line Permits
      — For more details on inner line permits process and to download application form read the link here
      — Hire a taxi from Leh taxi stand or Hotel whichever suits you.
      — Bargain hard with taxi driver. Book that single taxi for entire trip after explaining the complete plan.
      — Take his inputs if you feel reasonable and if required modify the plan accordingly but should suits you best.
      — Ask him to be with you guys starting first day itself, if required and charged reasonable else do it at your own.
      — Again DO NOT over exert and take little steps and slow walks only.
      — If feeling OK then do Local sightseeing include Namgyal Gompa, Leh Palace, Shanti Stupa, Shankar Gompa, Main Market, Hall of Fame, Spituk Gompa, Changspa Road Stroll in evening
      — Do not use stairs at any of these places just to see them as it will exert your body much more.
      — Overnight at Leh
       
      Day 3 | Leh – Khardung La – Diskit – Hunder
      — Head for Nubra Valley and stay overnight at Hunder / Diskit
      — On the way enjoy a cup of soup at Highest Motorable Pass (as claimed) Khardung La
      — Diskit has monasteries with tallest lord Buddha statue and Hunder has sand dunes and bacterian camel safari
       
      Day 4 | Hunder / Diskit – Sumur – Panamik – Sumur – Khardung La – Leh
      — Sumur has a famous monastery to check out and Panamik has hot water springs
      — Overnight at Leh
       
      Day 5 | Leh – Hemis Monastery – Pangong Tso Lake
      — Cover either of Hemis, Thicksey and Shey on the go towards Pangong Tso
      — Overnight at Pangong Tso (Spangmik or Lukung)
       
      Day 6 | Pangong Tso Lake – Thicksey Monastery – Shey Palace – Leh
      — Cover either of Hemis, Thicksey and Shey on return to Leh
      — Overnight at Leh

      Day 7 | Rest day at Leh to enjoy local culture and some shopping OR Monastery tour OR or you can do tour to Sham Valley
      — Monastery tour may include Hemis, Thicksey, Stakna and Shey monasteries. They come on the route of Pangong Tso but as you will be doing day trip, it will be a bit hectic to include them on that day only.
      — Sham Valley include Alchi, Likir, Basgo Palace, Magnetic Hills, Confluence at Nimmu, , Gurudwara Pather Sahib
      — Overnight at Leh

      Day 8 | Fly out of Leh to Delhi and then Kolkata/Banglore

      I hope this helps. Let me know incase you need more info. or have any queries or doubts.

      Regards
      Dheeraj Sharma

      • Hi Dheeraj,

        Thanks a lot for taking time to reply to my queries.

        I have been able to get some more time and modified my plan a bit as below.Can you suggest an suitable itinerary as per below plan.

        Day 1 (10th Aug): Reach Delhi around 6PM by flight
        Day 2 (11th Aug): Reach Leh by flight early morning
        ….
        ….
        ….

        Day 10 (19th Aug): Reach Manali by Leh-Manali highway and take Bus to Delhi
        Day 11 (20th Aug): Return to Bangalore by flight

        • Hello Deb,

          I guess I suggested on plan in other thread, may be you have changed mind to travel on Manali – Leh Highway rather flying back. So, you can follow a plan like below:

          Day 2 | Delhi – Leh (By Flight)
          — Checkin at Hotel. Many hotels provide free pick and drop from Airport. Ask while you book them.
          — Take ample of rest as well as water or anything that keep your body hydrated enough. DO NOT OVER HYDRATE. Take ORS Soluted water or ORS – L tetra packs from home.
          — Do not over exert your body at any cost. Avoid too much up-down on stairs or avoid it in entirety, if possible.
          — After 5-6 Hrs of rest you can visit Leh Palace, Local Leh market, Shankar Gompa .
          — If you feel exerted go back to Hotel, have dinner at Hotel and take rest. Avoid any exertion. Else continue and,
          — Follow the sunset by stroll at Changspa road and have a nice dinner on varied cuisines offered in-around Changspa road.
          — Go back to hotel for overnight stay at Leh.
           
          Day 3 | Leh Local Sighseeing + Inner Line Permits
          — For more details on inner line permits process and to download application form read the link here
          — Hire a taxi from Leh taxi stand or Hotel whichever suits you.
          — Bargain hard with taxi driver. Book that single taxi for entire trip after explaining the complete plan.
          — Take his inputs if you feel reasonable and if required modify the plan accordingly but should suits you best.
          — Ask him to be with you guys starting first day itself, if required and charged reasonable else do it at your own.
          — Again DO NOT over exert and take little steps and slow walks only.
          — If feeling OK then do Local sightseeing include Namgyal Gompa, Leh Palace, Shanti Stupa, Shankar Gompa, Main Market, Hall of Fame, Spituk Gompa, Changspa Road Stroll in evening
          — Do not use stairs at any of these places just to see them as it will exert your body much more.
          — Overnight at Leh
           
          Day 4 | Leh – Khardung La – Diskit – Hunder
          — Head for Nubra Valley and stay overnight at Hunder / Diskit
          — On the way enjoy a cup of soup at Highest Motorable Pass (as claimed) Khardung La
          — Diskit has monasteries with tallest lord Buddha statue and Hunder has sand dunes and bacterian camel safari
           
          Day 5 | Hunder / Diskit – Sumur – Panamik – Sumur – Khardung La – Leh
          — Sumur has a famous monastery to check out and Panamik has hot water springs
          — Overnight at Leh

          Day 6 | Leh – Pangong Tso – Leh
          — Make a Day trip to Pangong Tso
          — Overnight at Leh

          Day 7 | Rest day at Leh to enjoy local culture and some shopping OR OR You can do tour to Sham Valley
          — Sham Valley include Alchi, Likir, Basgo Palace, Magnetic Hills, Confluence at Nimmu, , Gurudwara Pather Sahib
          — Overnight at Leh

          Day 8 | Leh – Taglang La – Moore Plains – Pang – Sarchu
          — Stay overnight at Sarchu

          Day 9 | Sarchu – Baralacha La – Keylong – Rohtang Pass – Manali
          — On the way cover Suraj Tal, Deepak Tal which are on the road sides only
          — Overnight at Manali

          Day 10 (19th Aug): Reach Manali by Leh-Manali highway and take Bus to Delhi
          Day 11 (20th Aug): Return to Bangalore by flight

          I hope this helps. Let me know incase you need more info. or have any queries or doubts.

          Regards
          Dheeraj Sharma

        • Hi Dheeraj,

          Thanks for the plan.

          I have few doubts:

          1. Can we go to Pangong Tso, stay there overnight, go directly to Tso Moriri from Pangong Tso instead of going back to Leh, and then to Sarchu on our way back to Manali? Is there a route?

          2. Should I book the hotels and taxi according to the plan beforehand say through some tour organizer at Leh? Or should it be better to go to Leh and book everything there after arrival?

          Regards
          Deb

        • Hello Deb,

          1. Yes, there is a route but it is quite treacherous and risky too. If you are OK with traveling long distances (about 13-14+ Hrs easily) on bumpy and shaky roads then most likely you can follow that route. Moreover, it will depend upon the permits been issue for those places in Changthang or not. Currently, I guess DC office has stopped issuing permits for Chusul region.

          2. It depends on your choice. If you do not plan to stay at any specific hotel and if you are OK with searching the place a bit after seeing the room conditions once reaching the place, then I guess you could save some good amount of money too on the hotel bookings. Finding a place is not that difficult in Leh and your taxi will be able to help you through. Keep this list handy with you: A preferred list of accommodation options in entire Leh – Ladakh including moderate and cheap budget hotels as well in the series of articles starting on the link here

          For the current leh – ladakh taxi union rate list 2012-13 including the contacts of some reliable taxi drivers within Leh – Ladakh, check the link here. You can get about 10-15% of discount by directly getting in touch with drivers and of course, talking in person rather on phone always help in bargaining more.

          I hope this helps. Let me know incase you need more info. or have any queries or doubts.

          Regards,
          Dheeraj Sharma

  13. Enjoyed the breath taking photographs, the lovely horses and the blue mountains. The calm serene landscape, and the quiet atmosphere, cold, all call for a heady trip.
    Thanks.

    • Thankyou so much, really appreciate your comments. Yes, the place is so barren but yet most beautiful on earth. I cannot resist my self more than an year, going back again to this heavenly place 🙂

      Regards
      Dheeraj

  14. One more fantastic post 🙂
    Got transferred from jharkhand to Rajasthan on the same day of departing for leh 🙁
    Finally didn’t manage to go there
    Now planning for September as suggested by u to capture best coolers for season 🙂
    Thanks for all such wonderful post 🙂 it’s really nice felling to read it. Keep it up sir 😉

    Regards
    Swapnil k

    • Hello Swapnil,

      Ohh.. but it seems blessing in disguise for you. First, you will be able to read my complete travellog by then and secondly, you will be able to capture the most beautiful colors of Ladakh in September 🙂 and thanks buddy, for continuous support and linking the posts.

      Regards
      Dheeraj

      • Grateful for such nice reply 🙂
        And few spelling mistakes due to new handset
        Tc

        Regards
        Swapnil k B-)

    • Thanks alot Tes, glad you like them. Yes, Ladakh is a wonderland where people think of going to one time and then gets addiction of heaven 🙂 …

      Regards
      Dheeraj

  15. Hi, Dheeraj, we r 6 covering Srinagar-Leh-Manali as per common itinerary between 10-21 Aug, but please let me know where we can fit this Changthang? on day 8 between Leh-Pangong Tso?

    • Hi Arunava,

      If you wanna fit in Changthang, then better do it like:

      Day 9 | Pangong Tso Lake – Man – Merak – Chusul – Tsaga La – Tsaga Village – Loma – Hanle
      — Mention all the places on permits on this route including Nyoma
      — There are very limited option of stay at Hanle.
      — Very tiring and arduos journey on non-existent roads upto Tsaga village.

      Day 10 | Hanle – Loma – Nyoma – Mahe – Sumdo – Tso Moriri (Korzok)
      — Start to Tso Moriri and stay at Tso Moriri

      Day 11 | Tso Moriri – Tso Kar – Debring (Manali – Leh Highway starts) – Moore Plains – Pang / Sarchu
      — Try to start early in the day so that you reach Sarchu where the accommodation options are better than Pang
      — Overnight at Sarchu or Pang
      — About 11-12 Hrs drive, depending upon the breaks you take in between

      BTW, The permits to Man – Merak – Chusul or remote Changthang routes including Marsimik La and Wari La are still not being given by DC office in Leh, so keep your fingers crossed and hope for the best if they start issuing the permits by the time you visit. Otherwise, you have to take the traditional routes only.

      Regards
      Dheeraj Sharma

  16. Thanks Dheeraj, May GOD bless you with all happiness & strength, so that you can keep on provide us so much beautiful & valuable inputs.

    • Thanks alot Sunil sir, glad you liked them. I just loved being at this place. Alreay making plans for next year re-visit to this heavenly place on earth by the name Changthang 🙂

      Regards
      Dheeraj

  17. Sabyasachi Patra on

    Nice post. Brings back tons of memories. Changthang is in my plans for a long time. 🙂

    • Hello Sabya,

      Thanks alot. YEah, blogs does have this magical power of bringing back memories of our priceless trips from past and help us recall and relive those moments again and again. Ladakh is itself being magical place, call you every other time and Changthang was purely pristine. I am already thinking of what to be covered on next year trip for Changthang, may be Chumur or other routes like Tso Moriri to Chusul, if they are open 🙂

      Regards
      Dheeraj Sharma

  18. Awesome post… I am planning for ages to visit Ladakh but unfortunately missing it every year… Your post has got all the useful information…

    Thanks for the lovely post

    • Thanks alot Ruchita, let me know if you need any further details whenever you plan for a trip to Ladakh. May be I can be of some help in providing inputs for the planning part :)… Thanks again!!

      Regards
      Dheeraj Sharma

  19. Hi Dheeraj,
    I along with my friends are planning for a bike trip to leh-ladakh from 9-15aug. I have read your article which advises to choose srinagar-leh route, is it advisable to go with bike through that route. Also can you please share some info for the resting facilities during the journey.

    • Hi Rahul,

      You need at least 10 days to cover the complete circuit and do little sightseeing Ladakh. 6 days wont suffice and that too considering monsoons. Do you have more days in hand?

      Regards
      Dheeraj

      • Unfortunately we don’t have much time. can u pls suggest what other place we can cover in this time duration.

        • Hello Rahul,

          For 6 days, try to go and visit Kinnaur Valley. Very scenic and very lovely. Let me know in case you need a plan around it.

          Regards
          Dheeraj Sharma

  20. narender gautam on

    Dheeraj,nice detailed log once again.Very informative too.
    One humble suggestion,please replace “114 soldiers were killed”to “114 soldiers sacrificed their lives”.It would be more sensitive towards our brave soldiers who are guarding this harsh and beautiful Ladakh from enemy……

    • Hi Narender,

      Thanks alot buddy and sorry for that mistake. I have corrected that in the article and yes, it sound much more nice for our brave soldier. Hats Off, Bow, Salute, or what not to our Indian Army!! One only realizes the harshness of this terrain if he/she visits the region!! It is commendable effort by Indian Army to guard us here as well as much harshest battlefield in the world, Siachin.

      Jai Jawan, Jai Hind!!

      Regards
      Dheeraj Sharma

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