Monday, January 14, 2013

Tso Moriri and Tso Kar

Day 6 & 7 - Pangong Tso

Day 8 - Leh - Tso Moriri

Well, today was the day to start for another expedition..Tso Moriri, (official name Tso Moriri Wetland Conservation Reserve), a lake at an altitude of 15000 + feet at a distance of 240 Kms from Leh towards south east. It is considered to be one of the best lakes in India and there is lot of discussion on net amongst tourist making comparison of Pangong Tso and Tso Moriri. We were waiting for our own judgment. We planned our journey as Leh-Karu-Upshi-Chumthang-Mahe-Korzok. Korzok is the small hamlet on the banks of Tso Moriri. Estimated travel time was 6 hours without break, so we started early at 8.00 AM.

Indus .
First 36 Kms leg of travel is same as that goes to Pangong Tso. 13 Kms ahead and you are at Upshi from where you can drive straight to Manali or take left turn for Chumthang/Mahe. And from here the totally different landscape starts. While the journeys to Nubra Valley and Pangong Tso were marked by uphill drive passing through passes, this aint have any pass on this route ! And Indus River would accompany you for the next stretch of 130 KMS till Mahe bridge. Travelling right through the valley by the side of Indus has its own panoramas to offer you. You just go on enjoying those breathtaking views, stop wherever you want. 

Bridge on river Indus.

You would come across very few settlements and couple of army posts en route. We stopped at Chumthang to see the hot water springs which are supposed to be very near to the riverbed. But there wasn’t any..Inquired to the army soldier, he showed one place and said wait for 10 minutes, it would come up !!!  And it did to our shocking surprise. The magic continued for another 10-15 minutes and vanished suddenly leaving the place dry as if nothing has happened. The kind soldier also showed as 2-3 other small hot water springs.
After pending an hour or so, we left ahead, drove till Mahe bridge from where took right turn for Tso Moriri which was 60 Kms from here. Indus would leave your company now and you embark on a different terrain, Changthang plateau..the place of nomadic Chungpas. Road conditions were not so good, we continued. After 40 Kms of drive, we came across this small lake called Tso Kiagar, a salt water lake.

Tso Kiagar

20 Kms further and we were to the destination. At army check post, you have to submit your permit documents before you proceed towards the lake. It was about 4 pm and was cloudy, so lake wasn’t showing its charming blue colors. But the snow capped mountain on the backdrop, though partly covered with clouds, was adding to the beauty of the lake. I could imagine how beautiful it would be on a clear day. Hoping to its serene view next day, we checked in into the tents and had a walk in the town. Shore of the lake wasn’t very near for a quick walk. For environmental consideration, the lake is fenced and all settlements and tents are bit away from the lake. The lake was very much visible from the tents and spent that evening shades of lake in twilight.  

Tso Moriri

Day 9 - Tso Moriri - Tso Kar

With a very hope of seeing clear sky day, left for the shores early morning. After a walk of 20 minutes, we were there. Mother nature was however not very favorable. It wasn’t very cloudy but wasn’t clear sky either. Spent 4 hours wandering here there at leisurely pace, a really really calm place. Forgot that I was looking for clear skies :-) As seen in pictures, the lake seems wonderful on a clear day with dark blue colors and snow capped mountains on its backdrop. It has its own beauty, no sense in comparing with Pangong Tso. Whether you see it on clear day or not, it is worth visiting. It was proud to see that the tented camps, The Nomad Camps, is run by a nomad woman using laptop for management, booking confirmation etc. !.

Tso Kar

Common Hoopoe
At around 12, we left for Tso Kar. Tso Kar is around 60 Kms from Tso Morori in Rupshu valley. On the way, we could see a couple of temporary settlements of nomadic Chungpas along with their Yaks and Pashima goats. The journey was mostly on plains. Soon we were able to see the lake. It isn’t that beautiful as other famous lakes. It is known as White Lake due to immense nature of salt that gets deposited on the banks of it. We could smell the salty air. We couldn’t drive to the shores, so took a walk of 15 minutes to reach there. Tested the water, it was too much salty ! Legend is that the lake was almost double its current size but got shortened after the earthquake. The place is actually favorite amongst bird lovers. Marshlands surrounding the lake has given shelter to various species of the birds. We were able to spot Common Hoopoe, Brown headed Gull, bar headed goose and amazing black necked crane among others. You can surely spot Kiang (wild ass) in numbers in Tso Kar. Spent rest of the day watching lake and birds around.

Day 10 - Tso Kar - Hemis - Leh

Himalayan Marrot
Spent the early morning on the shores of lake watching birds, Kiang etc and started return journey. We chose different return route i.e. Tso Kar – Debring-Moore Plains – Tanglang La – Upshi-Hemis-Leh. From Tso Kar to Debring, you would come across various birds. Debris is the place which is on Manali-Leh highway on Moore Plains. Moore plains is basically a vast plains of around 50 Kms in length. To enjoy its full beauty, one must travel from Manali to Leh on bike. On this route, you will cross another pass, Tanglang La at an altitude of 17480 feet. This was the third highest pass in Ladakh we were crossing !
At 3.00 PM reached Hemis Gompa, considered to be the richest and most famous monastery in Ladakh. Allow at least 3-4 hours to visit the monastery. Copper statue of Buddha and Museum is a must see in this gompa. Museum has lot of antiques on display and the collection keeps on changing as this monastery has vast collection of it.
We stayed late to see the prayers of the monks and left for Leh. Next day was rest and then return journey, but surely with a wish to visit it again.

Inside Hemis Gompa

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