Destinations - India Ladakh ladakh diaries taglang la tso kar

Tso Kar, Ladakh | “The White Lake” @ 15000 feet!

Written by Poorna & Brinda
Tso Kar is a lovely lake which does not get too many visitors. Also known as “White lake” (Kar in Ladakhi means white) was not part of our initial itinerary. Our changed plan of going straight to Sonamarg from Srinagar airport helped us gain a day. Tso Kar was added to our itinerary as a day trip. We were in Ladakh for ten days in August 2014 exploring the region on foot and in Jeep………
A filling breakfast in the Officer’s mess of Army in Nimmu prepared us for the long drive. The weather was perfect with clear skies with few clouds hanging around. The drive from Nimmu to Leh is a pleasure. The winding roads follow Indus as leave behind the army barracks. Crossing the confluence of Indus with Zanskar we now hit a straight trail till the view point of Indus river.
(Please click on the pictures to see them in original size)
A chortem on the highway overlooking the confluence of Indus and Zanskar at the bottom
We stop for a few seconds on the magnetic hill point to experience the gravity defying phenomenon. Crossing the bridge at Ladakh Scouts regimental centre, we get out of Leh town with the panoramic view of snow capped peaks of Ladakh ranges giving us company. The tallest peak – Stok Kangri – play hide and seek in the clouds.
Ladakh ranges of Himalayas
We join Indus again and drive past Tiksey and Shey. Lovely stretches of road lead us to Upshi beyond the green barracks of Armed forces at Karu. We hit the Manali highway and drive along. The road is fantastic and our Driver Dorje is in full spirit. On to our left, Indus give us the company. The landscape dramatically changes for good. Pink mountains with Green bushes for contrast welcome us. We had seen these colourful vistas five years back. This time, we were savouring them. This stretch of road passing through picturesque Rumtse and Gya villages is mind-blowingly beautiful. The predominant colour now is pink disturbed by the browns. In between you have the green thrown in the form of willow trees or bushes of wild rose.
Leh - Manali Highway
The landscape pink, green and brown gets spectacular.
Leh - Manali Highway
The light on the mountains makes it more charming as you can see in this picture
Leh - Manali Highway
The high walls of colorful granite provides a lovely vista
Leh - Manali Highway
Isn’t this spectacular???……
Leh - Manali Highway
Look at the height of the granite walls….
Leh - Manali Highway
Here as well….
Leh - Manali Highway Rumtse
Monsatery @ Rumtse
Leh - Manali Highway
Landscape @ Rumtse seen when you descend from Taglang La
From Gya village to Taglang La it is a climb. Excellent road makes it easy for us. There is no snow and all could see are some ice flakes on the rocks. As we climb, the chill increases and wind gets stronger. We cover ourselves and are excited to be on top of the second highest motorable road in the world. We reach the top and there is a mild snow fall. Snowdrops fall into cupped hands like pearls. The chill increase and the wind is strong. We pray for the sun to come out of the cloud but in vain.
The view from Taglang La is awesome. There is no snow on the pass. The views of the snow caped peaks in mid day is a joy to behold. Unlike Khardung La, this is not crowded. We are the only three people on the pass experiencing “the top of the world” feeling.
Leh - Manali Highway
And they look beautiful…..
Brinda catching the snowdrops
Leh - Manali Highway
On top of the world!
Leh - Manali Highway
The view from Taglang La. The valley and winding roads
We now descend to the More (pronounced as Moray) plains and stop over at the shack for a cup of tea. “How long to the lake? “we ask Dorje. “Another 15 minutes saab” comes the reply as we get into the car. We now take a detour from the highway towards the lake. Surprisingly the road is is good and we are excited to checkout how the lake would be.
Leh - Manali Highway
Beautiful plains @ More
Leh - Manali Highway
We cross a group of motorcyclists. We get the first glimpse of the lake. A simmering line of greenish blue against the backdrop of mountains. The excitement mounts as we get off the road and enter the dirt track which takes us close to the lake.
Finally we arrive and what a sight!
Tso Kar, Ladakh
The first look – The Lake seen as a thin strip of blue – green
Tso Kar, Ladakh
Still waters and mountains
Tso Kar, Ladakh
The white salt at the lake which resembles snow. This is what gives the lake its name “White lake”
Tso Kar, Ladakh
Tso Kar, Ladakh
Different hues of the lake…….
Tso Kar, Ladakh
Tso Kar, Ladakh
Brinda @ Tso Kar
Tso Kar, Ladakh
Tso Kar, Ladakh
Tso Kar, Ladakh
A Panorama shot of the lake taken from Iphone
Tso Kar is a small lake in comparison to Pangong Tso. But it is beautiful. Covered by tall mountains of Taglang La on one side and Moreh Plains on the other, it is pretty and pristine. The place is also rich in wild life and we could see fencing by forest department in one corner of the lake. Sightings of Himalayan Wild Ass is common here. The lake is a birder’s paradise with many varieties of birds sighted here. Being hot afternoon, we don’t spot any. We go closer to touch and feel the brackish lake. Spending close to 45 minutes at the lake made us enjoy the changing colours of the water as the sun and clouds played hide and seek in the sky. Climbing on a small hill gave us a vantage view of the lake.
We could see some campers at a distance. But we have to return to Leh. It is a great place to camp. The clouds are gone as we climb to the pass. It is almost a clear sky. The vistas get spectacular as we drive back again through the pink mountains.
Travel Tips
a) Trip to Tso Kar can be done as a day trip. The drive from Leh to Tso Kar will take four hours for a distance of 100 KMs. This trip will also provide a glimpse of Leh – Manali highway.
b) The road is excellent except for a small patch while climbing towards Taglangla from Gya village where it is being widened.
c) Nothing is available at the lake. You may have to either pack something from the shacks at Moreh Plains on the highway or come back and eat.
d) If you love to trek, there is a popular trekking trail which takes you from Tso Kar to Tso Moriri.
e) If interested in birding, it would be better to camp overnight. Camping at night will also provide sky watching of spectacular Ladakhi sky!
f) Restaurants are available at Rumtse, Gya villages as well.
g) If you are flying directly into Leh, don’t do this trip the next day. Acclimatisation will be necessary. Keep it for third day.

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About the author

Poorna & Brinda

We are Brinda and Poorna from Bengaluru, the “Silicon city” or “Garden city” of India.

We travel together. We caught the travel bug 20 years back. On our honey moon, we traveled over the sea, in the train, by bus and in an aircraft! Our adventures probably started in that year. It continues, ever since.

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