The Movie 3 idiots came in 2009, it inspired millions to follow our heart, do what we were supposed to do and not be in an invisible life cage. This was mostly the obvious part, the part that most of us do not know about is, it urged people to travel and to the tune that in just 1 year the travelers in Ladakh regions were 5X and have been ever increasing. The J&K tourism board has been ever thankful to the crew and specially Aamir Khan for pulling the stint off so well.
Pangong is one beautiful lakeside settlement in a North-eastern region of Ladakh which was barely visited by any before the movie released. After the movie came, the whole area just lit up, people go here to camp, relax and recreate. Pangong is so much into the lead character of Rancho that the spot where the lake starts has almost 10 café and all of them bear the same name “Rancho” not even 1 could escape’s the grip.
The place is separated in few small villages, when I reached here it was early October which is off season and winter is setting in already, I reached around late evening hours and the village I took had only 3 homes where a small family of 3 or 4 would stay and rest of the house was converted to a home-stay with only the basic necessities or you could even camp outside but considering the weather, I choose not camp and opted for the wooden home and it was a wise decision which I realized on getting up around 3 AM and stepping out. The temperature was around -10 degree, we had no heaters, no fire and no electricity as the generator that supplied the electricity was not working (the place has no government electricity supply as the lines has not been laid yet)
A local Ladakhi kid posing for the camera, the grin his face makes the photo say a million things
By the time I got settled my belongings in the room with just 2 quilts and a pillow it was 7PM and I was half frozen, the family started a little fire which kept me warm for an hour and by the time food was prepared, without any choice or questions asked. We were given boiled rice and warm vegetables in a stock and that’s it. There is perhaps no vegetation in the area; the whole area is either a barren land or water-body where absolutely nothing grows except human tolerance.
A silhouette of the cook/owner
I woke up around 3 AM, put in all my strength to set up my camera over a tripod and get a shot of the star studded sky over long exposure and this is what I could capture. Within 2 minutes i could barely press the shutter button and my fingers were melting away. I quickly ran and cuddled my bed, only to wake up at 6 which is dawn time and sun-rays were playing their game over the deep blue studded lake. Even the blue colour of lake is so deep and clear that you feel if you touch it you are only going to dirty the water.
Once you are here try and spot the Marmot, which is from the squirrel family and slightly bigger than a rabbit in size, hibernates throughout winters and enjoys the relaxed life in burrows throughout winters. I tried to take a few good pictures but I guess they don’t wanna be disturbed and I wouldn’t blame them either. Animals were never supposed to be caged or chained for the simple reason that we want to see them.
Pangong is one of the last settlement in its direction, after that its china border and Indians are abandoned beyond this region unless they have an army permit. Even the beautiful Pangong lake is only 1/3rd in Indian and rest 2/3rd lies in china. Anybody going here should carry warm clothes because it gets extremely cold even in the peak season.