Mighty, endless, vast, abundant, clear, beautiful and pure…it touched and moved us like only Nature can. At Tso Moriri, all we could do was bow down and feel blessed at having witnessed it.Tso Moriri, at a distance of around 250 km from Leh is a high altitude mountain lake at a height of around 4500 m, in Ladakh.
Tso Moriri was a surprise outing for us. By the time we reached Ladakh, we had already spent two months in the hills. We were yearning for some “plains time”. Ladakh was only going to be a stopover to get to Manali. More importantly, we knew we would have to – just have to keep coming back to Ladakh.
But unexpected opportunities is what travel is all about.
Just as we got off the bus at Leh, we met three guys looking for company for a trip to Tso Moriri. Even before we had found a place to stay in Leh, we were sorted for a trip to Tso Moriri.
We set off early morning from Leh. On the way, we saw some characteristically summer scenes of Ladakh.
She was basking in the sun, readying for the harsh winters of Ladakh. She was busy creating beautiful patterns on a shawl she was weaving on a traditional wooden loom. Threads in reds, greens and yellow were getting interwoven at a dizzyingly fast pace.We wanted to ask her about her design process, but realised she would think we were fools asking such questions.
These skills, passed down generations are their inherent gifts!
Nor this one! There were a lot of under construction bridges on our way to Tso Moriri.There is a small mountain pass enroute Tso Moriri. The pass isn’t really a tough one, but it did break our backs. The roads are actually a gravel path in a very very bad condition.
But the purple mountains! Yes, that’s right, “purple”! They will just blow you away!
We did cross this bridge at Mahe. This is the first checkpoint on the way to Tso Moriri from Ladakh. Inner line permit, which is to be obtained from Leh, is needed to visit Tso Moriri.This point is also a junction for the routes to Tso Moriri and Pangong Tso. The more popular route from Leh to Pangong Tso is through Chang la. This is an alternate (and lonely) route. Head straight ahead to go to Pangong Tso. Take a right to cross the bridge for Tso Moriri.
This is a typical high altitude village scene of Ladakh. Barley fields, white mud houses surrounded by the barren Greater Himalayan mountain range.This was village Purga on our way to Tso moriri. It was a surreal landscape, devoid of colour.
Yet, there was something hauntingly beautiful about these villages. It could be the romance of an isolated life so evidenced by these surroundings.
Or the constant reminder, that there is just one force that controls life here: nature!
Living in sync with nature is not a choice but the only way, life here is possible.
This emerald coloured lake is Tso Kyogar.
A couple of hours before Tso Moriri, it was a perfect built up to our expectations from Tso Moriri.
Tso Kyogar appeared out of nowhere towards the end of the mountain road from Leh to Tso Moriri.
With the entrée so good, the main course ought to be exceptional. And exceptional it was!
After crossing Tso Kyogar, a steep incline led to a huge plateau. This flat land became our new reference plane.For most part of the drive to Tso Moriri we were negotiating ups and downs through the mountains. Suddenly we hit this vast flatland. It was hard to imagine we were at an elevation of 4500 m.
This plateau gave us enchanting views of this small (strictly relatively) Tso Kyogar.
As our car approached this plateau, we saw this long line of flags bouncing in the air. It was strung at two hilltops traversing the whole width of the plateau.How did the flags get there? Your guess would be as good as ours!
Breath taking beauty deserves one of its kind commute.People working near the out-of-this-world-stunning Tso Moriri lake in Ladakh can not travel to work like you and I.
Buses and trains won’t do for them. Rakes of bulldozers will!
The drive from Leh to Tso Moriri had been a 250 km long wait of 8 hours.The purple mountains and the Tso Kyogar had given us a glimpse of the magnificence we were about to see.
After making stay arrangements in Korzok, the base village of Tso Moriri, the time had finally arrived. We started (what felt like) the long walk to Tso Moriri.
Our hearts were thumping (with high altitude, yes! but more so) with excitement. It had already sensed some magic.
We knew we were about to witness one of our most special moments ever!
These barley fields separate Korzok from the Tso Moriri itself.The whites (of the houses) of Korzok, followed by the greens of barley fields leading to the stunning blues of Tso Moriri lake itself, sealed by the browns of the Greater Himalayas is the general colour palette of this landscape!
Tso Moriri is a wetland sanctuary and a protected zone. Vehicles are prohibited beyond the Korzok village.
Due to its long distance of 250 km from Leh, Tso Moriri is not frequented by too many tourists. Which meant, we had the entire Tso Moriri all to ourselves!
But what stunned us most about Tso Moriri was the magical feeling of it’s first glimpse!
In its isolation, unending vastness and sheer raw beauty, we sensed an untouched purity.
Top travel tips for the Tso Moriri Visit :
- Indian tourists do no need a permit to visit Tso Moriri since May 2014 but if you are foreign national then you’ll need it.
- All travellers must carry valid photo ID like PAN card, aadhar card, driving license, passport as proof of nationality.
- Visit Tso Moriri and the interior parts of Ladakh only after you have acclimatised to the high altitude in Leh.
- Dstance from Leh to Tso Moriri is a good 250 km. Do not trust Google Maps when it says time taken will be around 4 hours. Google doesn’t know the roads of the higher Himalayas. DO NOT plan a day trip to Tso Moriri from Leh. In any case, the sunrise and the sunset are the best times of the day to visit Tso Moriri. Don’t visit Tso Moriri to tick it off the list.