One has to see Ladakh’s beauty to experience it. Another example of Ladakh’s mesmerizing beauty is Tso Moriri Lake. Located in the Changthang region of Ladakh, it’s the largest high altitude lake in India. The lake is about 7 km wide and almost 19km long and is a part of the Ramsar site. It is also known as Tso Moriri Wetland Conservation Reserve, and lays claim to being the highest Ramsar site in the world.
The Tso Moriri Lake is dressed in shades of blue, with the images of playfully shaped clouds reflected in its pristine waters. It’s only when you come across sights such as these that you wonder about the beauty of nature which is infinite. In this page, we tell you everything you need to know about Tso Moriri Lake of Leh Ladakh.
Things to do at Tso Moriri Lake
Of course, you are going to admire the beauty of the Tso Moriri Lake, since that is the main thing to do on reaching there. The lake, with its massive dimensions and indescribable beauty, is a natural marvel. It’s the kind of beauty which compels you to stare endlessly until you have absorbed its beauty and pocketed a part of it within you. Camping is the most favorite activity of the tourists here, and you will find tents set-up at a distance of around 5 minutes from the lake. The accommodations are decent and equipped with all the basic necessities to ensure that your stay is convenient.
Just sitting and staring at this divine lake is a blessing. If you are an ardent birdwatcher, then you would be delighted because Tso Moriri Lake is a visited by various migratory birds. Besides admiring its beauty, there are other things to do upon visiting this lake.
About half an hour away from the lake live the Changpas, nomadic pastoral shepherds who bring their sheep and goats to this area for grazing during the summers. If you can win their friendship, a member of the Changpa tribe will be only too happy to welcome you into her yak-hair tent called Rebo.
You could also visit the village of Korzok, the only permanent village on the enormous Tso Moriri Lake. The village is home to a gompa whose prayer room is adorned with old murals. Further around 2km is a popular early evening viewpoint overlooking Tso Moriri Lake.
Permit and Permission
Certain areas in Leh Ladakh require domestic visitors to obtain an Inner Line Permit (ILP). Visiting Tso Moriri also requires you to obtain an ILP. Foreigners visiting Leh Ladakh are required to obtain a Protected Area Permit (POP). Visitors are required to pay an environmental fee of Rs. 400 and an Inner Line Permit Fee of Rs. 20 per day per person to obtain this permit. The inner line permits are available from the website www.lahdclehpermit.in. It should also be noted that the permits are not needed for travelling on Manali-Leh highway, Srinagar-Leh highway or Zanskar Valley.
There are no accommodation options at Tso Moriri Lake on its banks because setting up camps on its banks is strictly prohibited on account of its being a wetland reserve and sanctuary for migratory birds. However, you can pitch the tents near the tented colonies just before Korzok Village or find an accommodation in Korzok Village. From here, you can enjoy splendid views of the blue-colored high altitude Tso Moriri Lake. As far as the living conditions are concerned, you will not face any problems as the camps and tents are well-equipped with all the basic amenities to make your stay a comfortable one.
The food available at the homestays or the tents will be hot, nutritious and wholesome. You should not have expectations of fanciful meals being served to you. However, rest assured, the kind of food which you will be served will be extremely nutritious and healthy for you. Moreover, it should be remembered that the preparation of food at such an altitude is not an easy job. One should be grateful and appreciative of the food being served at such inhospitable conditions.
How to reach Tso Moriri Lake?
There are four routes through which one can reach Tso Moriri Lake. Each of the routes differ from the other as far as their attractions and distances are concerned. Let us have a look at the different routes through which one can reach Tso Moriri.
Route from Leh to Tso Moriri Lake
The route from Leh to Tso Moriri Lake is the most preferred route by visitors to this enchanting lake. This route takes around six to seven hours depending on the times you take a break in your journey. This route covers famous monastries of Leh Ladakh including Thiksey, Hemis and Shey monasteries. It also boasts the best road conditions. However, if you are short on time, then you can exit towards Manali-Leh highway from Tso Moriri through this route.
Route from Pangong Tso Lake to Tso Moriri Lake
You can also reach Tso Moriri through a direct and indirect route between Tso Moriri and Pangong Tso Lake. In most of the cases though, you will be taking a direct route of Pangong Tso to Tso Moriri.
The direct route to Tso Moriri from Pangong Tso goes through the remote and amazing Changthang region. The route takes you past the most incredible sceneries you will come across in the Ladakh region. However, foreigners taking this route cannot go beyond Man-Merak village as they don’t have the required permits for this route. They will have to take the indirect and longer route to Tso Moriri from Pangong Tso. Always remember to carry enough fuel for about 550 - 600 km because you will not come across any petrol pump on the route covering Leh – Pangong Tso – Nyoma – Loma – Tso Moriri – Leh.
The indirect route is also the longer route, and it goes through Chumathang. On this route, you need to go all the way to Pangong Tso to Leh upto Karu. Upon reaching there, you can take a left towards Upshi – Chumathang – Korzok to reach the Tso Moriri Lake. Foreign tourists who are denied permits for Changthang region can take this route, if they don’t want to go back to Leh. However, one must go back to Leh from Pangong Tso to relax and refresh themselves before starting towards Tso Moriri the next morning.
The road conditions entirely depend on the route you are taking. The best road however, is the route from Leh to Tso Moriri Lake. When it comes to the kind of vehicles in Leh Ladakh, however, the best option is to go for an SUV. The roads in Leh Ladakh are full of twists and turns, and the SUV’s are best suited for this purpose.
Availiblity of Mobile Network at Tso Moriri Lake
You will not find any mobile network at Tso Moriri Lake, but who needs it anyway when you have a slice of heaven staring at you. Leave all your worldly needs behind you and lose yourself in the beauty of the surroundings. That’s what counts!
There are a lot of other tourist attractions in close proximity to Tso Moriri Lake. You should check out these other popular tourist places to visit in Ladakh too as they will make your trip an even memorable experience.
Visit the village of Korzok
Korzok is the only permanent village located in close proximity to Tso Moriri Lake. Its home to a gompa whose prayer room is decorated with old murals. At around a distance of 2km is a popular evening view point overlooking the Tso Moriri Lake.
Observe the lifestyle of the nomadic Changpas
About half an hour away from the lake live the nomadic Changpas, pastoral shepherds who bring their goats and sheep to this area for grazing during the summer season. You can explore their nomadic lifestyle, one aspect of which is their yak-hair tent called Rebo.
Best time to visit
The Tso Moriri Lake remains mostly frozen from January to March. The weather conditions are extremely inhospitable so as to allow you to stay around it. During the month of April, however, the snow gradually begins to melt and the lake begins to assume its multi colors for which its so famous. The months of May, June, July and August are when tourists begin visiting the lake in steady numbers.
The months of September and early October are when the tourists start camping around the lake. This is also the best time for visiting the lake as it shows itself in all its glory and colors. During this time, you can enjoy your stay by the lake and explore the nearby surroundings at your own leisure.