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Pangong Tso opens for tourists amid Ladakh stand-off. This is how you can visit it

The Print logo The Print 13-01-2021 Azaan Javaid

Pangong Tso in Ladakh has reopened for tourists six months after it was declared out of bounds following the deadly Galwan clashes between Indian and Chinese troops in June last year in which 20 Indian soldiers died.

A view of Pangong Tso lake in Ladakh region July 27, 2019. Picture taken July 27, 2019. REUTERS/Mukesh Gupta © REUTERS/Mukesh Gupta Pangong Tso lake in Ladakh

The Ladakh tourism department has started issuing inner line permits online from Sunday, but the only way to reach the region now is via flight as the national highway remains closed due to bad weather.

According to official rules, tourists can visit the lake despite the ongoing military stand-off between India and China in the region. The only change, however, is that tourists will have to follow strict Covid-19 guidelines.

How to visit Pangong Tso?

The journey to Pangong Tso starts with applying for the inner line permit, which is required for a tourist to travel in certain areas of Ladakh region. 

Ladakh administration officials said that permit is given to anyone who applies within a day. 

In pics: 12 reasons why you should visit Ladakh in India

With no road connectivity now, the only way to reach the region will be via air, officials added. 

“The tourists with Covid-19 negative test report, which is not earlier than 72 hours, can visit all public places and destinations across Ladakh without any restrictions. Tourists interested in visiting the lake, upon reaching the airport, will undergo a rapid antigen test following which they need to acclimatise to the weather conditions for no less than 24 hours,” said a senior official, requesting anonymity.  

“Tourists who decide to move around right after arriving in Ladakh will face health difficulties as they will not be properly acclimatised,” he added.

According to the official tourism website of the Leh administration, asymptomatic tourists without Covid-19 negative certificates can enter the union territory, but should have a minimum booking for 7 days in a hotel. They will have to stay within the premises of the same hotel for 7 days, following which they can visit the public places across the state.

Another senior government official said that tourists not carrying the permit will not be allowed to move past security check-posts.

“There are at least three to four check-posts in Leh region where the tourists will have to produce the permits. We are requesting the tourists to carry it along with them,” the official said. 

The lake

Pangong Tso, which is the world’s highest saltwater lake, is one of the most popular and prized tourist destinations in Ladakh.

The Line of Actual Control between India and China doesn’t just run through land, but also through the Pangong Tso — a 135 kilometre-long, narrow, deep and landlocked lake, which covers a total area above 700 square kilometres. The 45 km-long western portion is under Indian control.

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