Pangong Tso – World’s Highest Saltwater Lake That Changes Its Color

In this article, we will look into some intriguing details about Pangong Tso lake which is situated in the eastern Ladakh and West Tibet region at a height of almost 4,350m. The lake derives its name from Tibetan word “Pangong Tso”, which means “high grassland lake”. Pangong lake is situated at the border of India and China due to which it always remains a central point for dispute between the two countries. We will see some more important points about this lake in below section.

Pangong Tso - World's Highest Saltwater Lake That Changes Its Color

Pangong Tso – World’s Highest Saltwater Lake That Changes Its Color

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  • It is among the highest brackish water lakes in the World.
  • Historically the lake is divided into five sub-lakes. The name Pangong Tso only applied to the westernmost lake that is mostly in Ladakh.
  • The main lake on the Tibetan side is called Tso Nyak (the “middle lake”). It is followed by two small lakes called Rum Tso. The last lake near Rutog is called Nyak Tso again.
  • The whole lake group was and is still often referred to as Tsomo Nganglha Ringpo. More on wikipedia.
  • The lake is around 134 km long and 5 km wide. Totally it is spreaded over an area of 700 square kilometers.
  • Around 50% of the lake area belongs to Tibet region and 40% to Ladakh region. Rest of the 10% remains disputed between the two countries.
  • It is kind of endorheic basin, which means the lake does not have any outflow into any external bodies like river or ocean. It retains all its water.
  • In the past, lake had an outlet to to a tributary of the river Indus called the Shyok River, however it was later closed off due to natural reasons.
  • The lake is among one of the favorite places in Ladakh region.
  • This saline water lake completely freezes in Winter. After that an ice skating festival organized here in which participants comes from all over the world.
  • The lake is best known for its changing colors. It appears blue, green and red at different times.
  • Since the actual Line of Control(LAC) passes through this lake so boating is strictly prohibited in this lake.
  • The lake serves as the breeding ground for many migratory birds like Seagulls, rare black-necked cranes and Brahmani ducks.
  • Aquatic life almost devoid of any flora and fauna except crustaceans. However there are some marshes found around the lake.
  • In the recent observations, the presence of 5 m thick layer of laminated sand and mud in the lake suggested that lake has shrunken.
  • Tourists are only allowed to visit the lake till Spangmik village because of the lake’s proximity to the Sino-India border.
  • Camping around the lake after Sunset is not advisable as the weather conditions can get really harsher.
  • In August 2017, Indian and Chinese forces near Pangong Tso engaged in melee involving kicking, punching, rock throwing, and usage of makeshift weapons such as sticks and rods.
  • Both countries has their military infrastructure stationed on both sides of the Lake.

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