Blue, green, purple, grey and all their possible shades, changing into shades unseen with each passing second and each passing minute, as the angle of the sun changed with time; like Mother Nature had decided to create havoc with a bucketful of divine colours. It was a piece of mysterious and holy water body, where you can just about expect to see a water demon rise from within, any moment. It was Tso-Pangong, or the Pangong Lake, the highest salt water lake in the world, shared between the two mighty countries, India and China.
On our way there, we passed through Changlangla, the second highest motor able pass in the world, and the highest that I have been to, due to the mishap at Khardungla. Thanks to the fresh bout of black clouds, the route to the pass and the pass itself was a complete snow-field that I actually got to throw snow balls!! As we dropped down into the lower regions, we spotted marmots (huge Himalayan rodents), kijangs (Himalayan wild asses) and bharals (the mountain goats). We kept our eyes peeled out for the snow leopard, the ultimate animal to spot in the Himalayan region. But of course we did not get to see one, as you have to be personally blessed by God to even catch a glimpse of one. Just as we were approaching the lake, a sudden bend brought before us the view of the entire magnificent lake. And man, what a view it was!!
The entire place was just a complete riot of unimaginable colours. The whole body of blue green water, snaking between the various ranges, as peaks of various shades of brown and green guarded it all. As we drove towards it and then walked to the edge, the strong wind that whistled through the ridges created ripples and sea-like waves in the water, piercing through the five layers of our clothing and chilling us to the bones instantly. And in this eerie and barren place, we stayed for a night in a tent, just a few hundred paces from the edge of the water.
The coast line, as far as we could see, was a mixture of landscapes- sandy beach on one side, steep mountains rising right from the water edge on the other, and rugged and rocky topography in the middle, where we stayed. After checking in, we made ourselves comfortable on these rocks- just the three of us with no one within hearing distance. Just us, the lake and the mountains… These few hours that we spent there are my personal favourite moments of this trip. As the wind started gaining momentum towards twilight, and we could no longer feel our fingers, we decided to get back into the tent, which was surprisingly warm though it was just a normal canvas tent with canvas flooring.
After dinner, we squeezed into the blankets, huddling close for warmth, with just the sound of the wind lulling us to sleep, when it started- loud music thumping and rattling right outside our tent. It was a gang of tourists who had come to drink and make merry on this holy land. It was after a serious argument that we managed to make them turn it off, and restored the peace and tranquillity of the place. But our memory of the stay on the shores of this lake had been tinted.
The next morning, we were up at dawn to watch the sun rise from within the bowels of the golden peaks, and cast its first rays on the magical lake. And well, it really was more than magical. We left early to try to find more marmots and kijangs, and did we find plenty!! Every hundred yards brought to us a marmot, and we had a nice time watching these little rabbit-like creatures bound and leap into their burrows.
Despite the unfortunate incident that night, the unbearable cold and the rough journey, that one day we spent next to this holy lake will always be an incredible piece of memory that I will cherish till the end…