Loacted 15 Km east of the famous Fotu La pass on the Leh-Srinagar highway, Lamayaru is popularly known as moonland by the local due to its peculiar land surface which closely resembles the surface seen on moon. The mystique of the Lamayaru monastery located here is unmatched by any other in the entire Ladakh region. The clear blue skies meet the rugged horizon of broken mud cliffs creating an atmosphere of lunar surface which has a powerful impact on the first time viewer’s psyche. The monastery at Lamayaru is considered one of the oldest Gompas of Ladakh and houses more than 400 Buddhist monks even today who are undergoing training to take up responsibilities in monasteries across the globe. Legend has it that originally the valley was a huge lake which was dried up by the 10th century Buddhist scholar Mahasiddhacarya Naropa to create a perfect learning center for monks. It is also believed that the area will once again be flooded in the future when the time ordained for it arrives as per Buddhist scriptures. Some mythological accounts even believe that the great sage Arhat Nyimagong cracked open the banks of the original lake using his super natural powers and predicted that a monastery will spring from the valley bottom to eventually become one of the most important centers of Buddhist learning in the region. MUST WATCH LAMAYURU VIDEO – The monastery is located on a sediment rock hill cliff and appears to be precariously balance by some strange mystical power unknown to human beings. Adjacent to the cliff is a deep gorge where the Lamayaru rivers meanders like a snake through the valley. The village is located below the monastery close to the river. The green fileds around the village and the stream called Drogpo which flows through the fields is a refreshing change from the otherwise out of the world environment around Lamayaru. As one approaches close to the place the golden yellow formations on the granite hills can be seen from far making it apparent as to why the place is so called. This peculiar surface condition is caused due to erosion of lakebed deposits of a glacial lake which existed at the place. The yellow color of the land here is distinct in its appearance providing the feeling being on some other planet. The access to moonland from Leh is through the Fotu La pass. ‘La’ in local language is a low land in a mountain range which was used by ancient travelers to cross over hence quite similar to the word pass in its implications. Located at about 14000 fett above mean sea level the pass has coiled roads leading up to it from both sides. This difficult and rugged road is maintained by the Border Roads Organization of the Defense Ministry round the year. The altitude of more than 13500 feet, the chill ib the breeze and brazen landscape filled with broken ground akin to lunar surface all present one of the most mesmerizing sights that Ladakh has to offer for tourists.
Literally meaning “Lake of the Great Hollow”, the Pangong lake lies 160 Km southeast of the capital town ofLehand is certainly one of the most mesmerizing sights of Ladakh. Technically speaking it is the largest endoheric lake inAsiaand lies at an altitude of 13,900 feet above the sea level. Though salty the water of this lake is crystal clear displaying a breathtaking shade of azure blue. The sheer size of this beautiful lake leaves one in astonishment as you approach it the first time. The lake is 5 Km wide at it broadest point and is more than 135 Km long covering a massive area of more than 604 Square Kilometers.
PangongLakeis about 5 hours drive from Leh through breathtaking and scenic valleys of Thiksey and Chemrey. The drive may not be comfortable as the condition of the roads need serious repairs every year after the snow melts, but the serene views of the valley prevents any fatigue from setting in. One has to cross the Chang la Pass followed by the ‘Pagal naala’ enroute toPangongLake. There are few tea stalls at the pass that provide hot cup of tea at those freezing altitudes. There are stray horses and the Pashmina sheep of the locals grazing peacefully on both sides of the meandering road as one approaches the lake.
The wonderful effect that mesmerizes visitors is primarily created by the huge barren mountain ranges that flank the lake with their over powering shadows making stunning reflections of the pristine blue waters of the lake. It is as if the lake holds augment to the skies as the majestic mountains look on. The blue waters of the lake change shades with the sun’s movement giving a mystic feel to the entire locale. Small migratory birds that visit the lake in summers add to the wonder as they swing calmly to the small ripples on the lake water. The brown headed gulls and the majestic black-necked crane are among the most often sighted avian visitors to the lake.
The serene blue waters extend well beyond Indian borders intoTibet. In fact only one fourth of the lake is inIndiawith the rest under the control of Chinese authorities. The Man and Merak village accommodating Tibetian Gypsies lie nearby and are livable only in the summers. The Spangmik is the farthest habitable area till where the visitors are permitted. The Indian army has many bases beyond that village which saw some fierce fighting during the Indo China war of 1962. There are few war memorials there which can be accessed only after specific clearance from Army authorities.
The waters of theLakefreeze during winters providing a perfect hard walking surface for yaks, ponies and sheep to move in their migratory path. Recently the panging lake came into lime light in the Bollywood hit movie 3 Idiots whose final scenes were shot on the banks of the lake. The passes required to visit the lake are easily obtainable at Leh through any travel agent.
The rarified atmosphere, majestic mountains, clear skies and pristine blue waters of the lake combine to create a magical effect that lingers in the memory long after you have left the place.