10 Beautiful Lakes In Leh Ladakh That You Should Visit On Your Next Trip
Leh Ladakh; Whenever someone hears this name, they mainly imagine high altitude mountains, vast cold, dry desert complimented by the flow of the Indus and a rich Tibetan-Buddhist culture that attracts thousands of travellers every year. But that’s not all! Leh Ladakh is also blessed with some of the most magnificent high-altitude lakes that look like gems from far and above. Lakes in Leh Ladakh are famous for their unique shades and hues, the altitude, size and the stories associated with them. Lakes in Leh Ladakh should definitely be a part of your ‘places to visit in Ladakh’ list. If Leh Ladakh and the mesmerising lakes in Leh Ladakh are on your mind now, you must check out our Leh Ladakh tour packages and start your ultimate adventure.
Here are some lakes in Leh Ladakh that every traveller needs to stumble upon
1. Pangong Tso
Thanks to the movie ‘3 Idiots’, the Pangong Tso lake is now one of the most popular tourist attractions in Leh Ladakh. This Ladakh lake is the No. 1 destination for travellers and tourists. Situated at a height of 4,300m, Pangong Tso lake spreads over three countries- India, China and Tibet. It is known for its unique turquoise colour that has different shades at every corner. If you’re standing at a height and look at the lake from above, you will see the different shades of blue everywhere. You can reach Pangong Tso from two roads.
The first route, which 99% of the people travel upon, is through one of the highest roads and passes, which is via Khardung La. The second route, which most people need to be made aware of, is from the other end of the side of the lake via Chushul. The lake is surrounded by beautiful tents that offer magnificent views during the season. In the off-season of winter, the lake is frozen and reaching the lake is a task because the roads are blocked. Flora and fauna of this Leh Ladakh lake are very minimal. The 360-degree views from the lake are spectacular and breathtaking, with the lake at the foot of mighty mountains.
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2. Tso Moriri
Situated in eastern Ladakh, Tso Moriri is another Ladakh lake known for its beautiful hues, isolation and mountains exceeding 6,000 metres on both the east and west sides. It is situated at an elevation of 4,522 m. Associated with myths and legends, Tso Moriri is known to be a cursed lake from where nobody derives water for any purpose. Legend has it that a girl drowned in the frozen lake saving her Yak. Since then, the village of Korzok has not used the lake as a water source.
You can reach this Ladakh lake through two routes. The first is via Upshi – Chumathang – Mahe route, and the second is from Manali Leh Highway via Tso Kar – Puga – Sumdo. Recently, the lake has come under threat from tourism which has disturbed the ecosystem around the lake. The lake freezes during winter, with temperatures dropping to -40 degrees in the region.
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3. Kyagar Tso
A very small saline lake located at an elevation of 4,705m, Kyagar Tso is another lake which is near Tso Moriri. If you’re on your way to Tso Moriri, you will hit this lake a few kilometres before Tso Moriri. With no population or vegetation around, the area near the lake is completely barren, and the road is bumpy as well. The sudden climb can cause headaches and nausea, but all is worth for the views are more than rewarding.
The weather here is harsh, so it is necessary to be prepared before everything. There are no petrol pumps around this area as well. The lake is small, yet it is as beautiful as other lakes in Ladakh- pristine colours and its size (7.5km) define it!
4. Tso Kar
Located in southern Ladakh in Rupshu valley, Tso Kar stands at an elevation of 4660m, 250 km from Leh. It is also known as the ‘White Desert’ because of the salt deposits around the banks of the lake. It is one of the few lakes with marshland around it, making it favourable for rich wildlife. Birds like the black-necked crane, Brahmi ducks and great crested grebe can be found here. Mammals like kiang, ibex and snow foxes also attract wildlife lovers. Like all the other lakes in Ladakh, views from Tso Kar are magnificent, with the lake merging with the mountains at every end.
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5. Yaye Tso
Another hidden gem in Ladakh is the lake of Yaye. A volcanic lake located at an extreme height of 4988m, the region around the lake is barren. Besides yaks and sheep, it is difficult to find anything around here. The nearest road head is Mahe, 12 km away from the lake.
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6. Chilling Tso
When talking about Lakes in Leh Ladakh, Chilling Tso might not be the first name that comes to mind, but it being not that popular should not let you make the decision not to visit it. One of the highest altitudes lakes not just in India but the entire world, Chilling Tso sits at an altitude of 4,900 metres above sea level and is located right next to another scenic Ladakh lake, the Ryul lake. Both the lakes sit right next to each other and are often regarded as the ‘ twin lakes’ too.
The best time to visit the lake is between the months of May and September, and It is highly recommended that one travels in groups when visiting the lake since help might not be available in case anything goes wrong. Moreover, a special permit is required if you’re visiting the lake from Hanle. To know more about the permits required in Ladakh, you must read our guide for routes and permits in Leh Ladakh.
7. Spanggur Tso
A unique addition to this list of beautiful lakes in Leh Ladakh is Spanggur Tso. Closed to tourists since there’s no motorable road to visit this gem, the lake is located at an altitude of 4,305 meters above sea level; the lake was a part of India completely before the war of 1962 with China. Well, this breaks the myth that Pangong Tso is the only lake which is shared by both India and China.
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8. Chagar Tso
We’ve all heard, read and seen about the Pangong Tso and its Bollywood cameos, but did you know that there’s another lake near Pangong which is equally stunning and the best part? Fewer travellers visit it, which means you’ll get more time and space to enjoy the magic of this lake, known as Chagar Tso.
The lake hiding in plain sight is just 20 Kilometres before Pangong Tso and gives out the same vibes as its counterpart but with less crowd. Located at a distance of 135 kilometres from the main city of Leh, the lake is one of the best offbeat destinations currently present in Leh Ladakh that surely deserve more attention than what they are getting.
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9. Yarab Tso
Just imagine a place located in the high altitudes, surrounded by mountains, the cold breeze flowing in the region and matchless beauty that you know you won’t be getting anywhere else; well, your imagination is going to turn into reality when you visit Yarab Tso. Situated near the Nubra Valley, almost 15 Kilometres from Diskit.
This unique gem is one of the highest altitudes lakes, which is considered holy and is perfect for those who looking for peace and serenity with a dash of tranquillity. The lake possesses crystal-clear water, which is a treat for many. The lake, surrounded by unparalleled beauty, also makes up an amazing spot for clicking some aesthetic photos for your Instagram feed.
The best time to visit this Ladakhi gem is from the months of July to September, and when at this lake, don’t forget to visit the nearby attractions like Panamik Village, Diskit Village and the cold desert in Hunder.
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10. Mirpal Tso
As we said in the beginning that Ladakh is probably one of those destinations which has it all, adventure, thrill, culture, hospitality and inimitable beauty and one of those lakes which is the epitome of beauty in Ladakh is the Mirpal Tso.
Different from its Ladakhi counterparts that get tons of footfall, Mirpal Tso is one of the offbeat lakes in Leh Ladakh that surely deserves your visit. With less footfall, the lake is surely the perfect companion for those looking for a soulful time surrounded by peace and serenity. Located in Chushul, it takes around 4 hours to reach the lake from the main city of Leh. The best part? In order to reach the lake, you’ll need to drive through one of the highest motorable passes in the country; the Kaksang La.
Upon reaching the lake, you’ll be left bewitched by the beautiful views of the surroundings, which for sure will lighten up your Instagram feed. So if you’re looking for an offbeat destination in Leh Ladakh, there’s nothing better than this lake.
All the lakes in Leh and Ladakh freeze during winter. Hence, the best time to visit is between the months of June and October. By the start of November, the temperatures start to drop and visiting these lakes become risky. Lakes that are isolated also require permits which can be taken from the tourism office in Leh. It is better to take a personal car/bike with extra fuel to avoid any unwanted situation, especially during the night.
We hope your travel plans for the year are sorted after this read. Happy Traveling now!
Frequently Asked Questions About Lakes In Leh Ladakh
Which are the highest lakes in Leh Ladakh?
The Pangong Tso, located at an altitude of 14,200 metres, is one of the highest-altitude lakes not just in Leh Ladakh but the entire world. Next up on this list is the Kiagar Tso which is situated at an altitude of over 4000 metres; just like its counterpart (the Pangong Tso), the Kiagar Tso too is equally pretty and serene. Another addition to this list is Kyun Tso which sits at the height of 5000 metres above sea level, followed by Chilling Tso, which sits at an altitude of 4900 metres; when at Chilling Tso, you must also checkout Ryul lake, which is right beside Chilling Tso.
What is the total number of lakes in Leh Ladakh?
Leh Ladakh, the paradisical highland located at an altitude of over 3,500 meters, has over 10 lakes, with some of them being the most visited tourist destinations too.
Which lake freezes in Leh Ladakh?
Pangong Tso, Tso Moriri and Lang Tso are some of the lakes that get frozen during the winter months. During the winter months, when the lakes get frozen up, some of them also become tourist attractions, one of them being the Zanskar river which is famous for the Chadar trek.
Is there aquatic life in the lakes of Leh Ladakh?
No, because of the harsh weather conditions and the amount of salt in the water of lakes in Leh Ladakh, the presence of aquatic life becomes impossible in the region.