Tso Moriri Lake is the largest high altitude lake in India, situated at 4,595m. Located between Ladakh and Tibet in the Changtang region, it is a twin to the Pangong Lake. This lake offers a scenic place of peace and tranquillity flanked by mountains, measuring about 28 km in length from north to south and 8 km wide. An inner line permit is required for visiting Tso Moriri.
The stunning Tso Moriri can be visited only during the summer months, starting from April when the lake starts to melt. May, June, July, and August are the peak tourist season. Tso Moriri remains inaccessible and entirely frozen from January to March.
Tso Moriri is a declared Ramsar site which means one cannot set up a tent or construct anything near the lake. It is also called the ‘mountain lake,’ owing to the peaks surrounding it, towering at the height of 2000 meters, shutting it off from the outside world. Several birds can be spotted at Tso Moriri, like the bare-headed goose, the great-crested grebe, the Brahmin duck, and the brown-headed gull. Himalayan hares are abundantly found here too.
Flora & Fauna At Tso Moriri :
Flora: While the deeper parts of Tso Moriri don’t have much vegetation, the shallower parts are enriched with unique species of flora, which include Caragana and Astragalus, Potamogeton species, Carex, Primula, Pedicularis, among the popular mammals.
Fauna: Tso Moriri also prides itself in being home to various birds, mammals, and some carnivorous animals, including 34 species of birds, including 14 vulnerable water birds. Some notable species include Black-Necked Cranes, Bar Headed Geese, Brown-Headed Gulls, Tibetan Gazelle, Goa Antelope, Tibetan Ass, The Great Tibetan Sheep, Snow Leopard, and The Tibetan Wolf, among others.
Need to Know: The weather is quite unstable in this area, so it is always better to carry warm clothes.
Permits are required to travel to this lake. Tso Moriri is inaccessible by public transport; you should contact a tour operator at Leh who will arrange and include your permit in the package. You will need two photocopies of the relevant pages of your passport and visa. Once you have your permit, usually only valid for a maximum of seven days, make at least five copies before setting off, as checkpoints like keeping a copy when you log in.
How to Reach Tso Moriri :
Leh To Tso Moriri
The direct bus is available from Leh to Tso Moriri, run by Jammu and Kashmir State Road Transport Corporation(JKSRTC). Many bus stations are available, and tourists can take a taxi or ride motorcycles, which can be taken on rent. In all the cases, it takes 6 hours to reach Tso Moriri.
The route that is usually taken is Leh-Upshi-Debring- Puga- Tso Moriri.
Alternate Route: Leh- Upshi- Chumathang- Mahe-Puga- Tso Moriri.
Pangong To Tso Moriri
Direct Route: There is a route that goes directly from Pangong to Tso Moriri. It goes via Changthang (starting from Man). This route is only for Indian citizens, and one needs to avail of cab services or private vehicles to reach the destination.
The route is: Pangong- Man- Merak- Khaltse- Chusul- Tsaga La- Tsaga Village- Loma – Nyoma- Mahe- Sumdo- Tso Moriri
Indirect Route: There is a route that goes from Pangong to Tso Moriri, and that is a longer route compared to the direct route. Like the direct route, the only way to reach the destination is via cabs or private vehicles. This route is mainly for foreign tourists as they don’t have permission for the Changthang route. They have to take the route via Chumathang compulsorily.
The route is: Pangong- Lukung- Tangtse- Durbuk- Chang La- Sakti- Karu- Upshi- Kumdok- Kere- Chumathang- Mahe- Sumdo-Tso Moriri
Staying At Tso Moriri: Even though Tso Moriri is a declared wetland reserve and is prohibited from pitching tents around the lake, some camps and tents are set up a little further away. These can be booked for an overnight stay to enjoy the surreal view of the lake at sunrise. However, it is advised to plan a stay in the tents only if you are going in the summer months.
There are also many homestay options a little far away from Tso Moriri, but facilities like electricity, hot running water, etc., make it a little difficult to stay.
How To Obtain An Inner Line Permit To Visit Tso Moriri :
A travel agent or even your hotel in Leh can help in getting a permit. A typical Inner Line Permit would host only a 3-day validity. Ensure to have valid identification documents (Aadhar, Pancard, Voter ID, Driving License, Passport). And a sum of about INR 1000 for the entire procedure. Foreign visitors are expected to have a valid passport with a visa, or an OCI (Overseas Citizenship of India) card would do.
Travelers could also apply online for an Inner Line Permit by logging into the official website, https://lahdclehpermit.in/. Upon clicking on the ‘Issue’ button, press the ‘Domestic Clients’ section to proceed to the personal details page. It is essential to fill out personal identification details, such as Aadhar, Voter ID, or Passport verification. Once the entire session is complete, make sure to have a concrete copy of the permit. Either through a screenshot or a printout.
For more information about Leh & Ladakh Tourism, visit https://leh.nic.in/tourism/
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