Destination: Chang La pass, Pongong Lake and SNOW
Posted on: June 14, 2013. Comments ( 5 )

Author: Chandrasekar B, parent of PSBB, Chennai

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The next day morning we were asked to assemble at 6AM at the breakfast hall and finish our breakfast by 6:30 so that we can leave early.

From our hotel the drive to Chang La pass was around 140 Kilometers.

For a while as we moved away from the plains of Leh town, the roads were smooth. But as we drove ahead through roads winding through mountainous terrain, the drive became bumpy and we had our initial glimpse of snow on the mountains.

Initial glimpse of snow at a distance a bit closer to snow

As we drove further higher up the mountains, we could see the snow cover grow in size and along the sides of the roads too.

Snow on the road sides hidden roads amidst snow covered mountains

It took us almost 3 and half hours to reach Chang La pass at 17,500 feet altitude. The drive was so bad that my wife and daughter felt very tired after the zigzag drive for over 3 hours.

It was very cold and it took us a bit of a time to get out of the vehicle. My wife and daughter decided first not to venture out. But after my persuasion for a while, my daughter got out and played in the snow for a few minutes.

Snow Everywhere:

Narraow roads, snow on the sides & slow traffic winding roads amidst snow cover

Our next destination was Pangong Lake:

After spending an hour in Chang La pass, we left for Pangong lake at an altitude of around 14,200 feet. The drive was bumpier than it was from Leh to Chang La pass.

On the way we saw some military stations, frozen rivers, and local tribes:

Army men on the way to Pangong Lake Their bunk
Frozen river Local tribes & their ponies
A tribal lady with a big-horned sheep Herd of Yaks

Finally we reached Pongong Lake around 3PM. It was really cold and this time my wife and daughter used to the weather and the bumpy ride were ready to venture out.

The lake is 134 KM long and extends from India to Tibet with 60% of the length of the lake lying in Tibet.

It was first week of May and the lake was, probably, half frozen. While you can see the water near the approach to the lake, a bit further, the lake was frozen and you can see the ice sheet on top a little distance into the lake.

Pongong lake My family in front of the lake

There were a couple of tea shops near the lake front and we were told by some local people that in the winter, the lake freezes completely and people ride cars and jeeps over it. Wish visited the place during peak winter to witness it.

Khardung La Pass

The next day our destination was Khardung La pass. Though the altitude of Khardung La pass was 17,500 feet, the distance from where we stayed was only 40 KM. So we planned to leave only at around 8:30 and return at around 3PM.

BTW, we were told that the road we were going to drive through is the world’s highest vehicle accessible road. But later when I read about it in the wikipedia, I found out that though widely believed so, it is incorrect. The wikipedia says, the highest vehicle accessible road is at 18,190 feet at Mana Pass on the India-Tibet Border.

My wife and daughter decided to skip the trip to Khardung La Pass, the next day. So I stayed with them and went around the Market Street in Leh post lunch on that day.

Later in the evening, actually early night around 7PM, we met rest of the team that proceeded to Khardung La pass, and learnt that there were heavy traffic and they got stuck in traffic for over 3 hours and returned back without reaching Khardung La. Only one of the 5 or 6 vehicles employed by our group reached the destination with much difficulty. Also, there were no toilets and even the not-so-well-maintained facilities were not usable due to freezing cold and ice/snow everywhere.

After hearing about their arduous travel, we felt perhaps we did not miss out much by skipping the drive.

And with that our tour got over and the next day we flew to Delhi early in the morning and reached Chennai the same day.

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Comments (5)


    Srinivasan says:

    please visit my youtube clip at “leh ladakh tour with splendor bike” if time permits

    Habeebunissa says:

    A very great description of your tour…. I love travelling to snow clad places, but I am afraid of my wheeze attack. Is it advisable to travel to this high altitude places with wheeze and breathing problems? also can you pls tell what was the tablet given on the first day of your visit, is it safe for kids below 5 yrs of age?

      Chandrasekar says:


      Thanks. I suggest you consult a doctor before going for a trip to high altitude places. The first and second day I found a bit of discomfort in breathing. So It is better you consult a doc. Regarding the tablet they gave us, I don’t remember the name. But we had a doc in our group and he told us it was a common tablet given for adjustments with high altitudes and there was nothing to worry about it. All docs must know the name of the medicine as it is a common one I believe.


    Srinivasan says:

    khardung la is not an elevation of 17500 ft,It is 18380 ft

      Chandrasekar says:


      You are right. Khardung la was at 18K+ feet only. I just wrote from my memory and it was a mistake. Thanks for pointing it out.


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