Pangong Tso (Tibetan: སྤང་གོང་མཚོ, Wylie: spang gong mtsho; Hindi: पांगोंग त्सो; Chinese: 班公错; pinyin: Bāngōng Cuò), Tibetan for "high grassland lake", also referred to as Pangong Lake, is an endorheic lake in the Himalayas situated at a height of about 4,350 m (14,270 ft). It is 134 km (83 mi) long and extends from India to China. Approximately 60% of the length of the lake lies in China. The lake is 5 km (3.1 mi) wide at its broadest point. All together it covers 604 km2. During winter the lake freezes completely, despite being saline water. It is not a part of Indus river basin area and geographically a separate land locked river basin.
Pangong Tso 2.jpg
Pangong Tso is located in Asia Pangong TsoPangong Tso
Location Ladakh, Jammu and Kashmir, India; Rutog County, Tibet, China
Coordinates 33°43′04.59″N 78°53′48.48″E
Type Soda lake
dimictic lake (east basin)
cold monomictic lake (west basin)
Basin countries China, India
Max. length 134 km (83 mi)
Max. width 5 km (3.1 mi)
Surface area approx. 700 km2 (270 sq mi)
Max. depth 328 ft. (100 m)
Surface elevation 4,250 metres (13,940 ft)
Frozen during winter
Traditional Chinese 班公錯
Simplified Chinese 班公错
Hanyu Pinyin Bāngōngcuò
Wylie mtsho mo ngang lha ring
THL Tsomo Nganglha Ringpo
The lake is in the process of being identified under the Ramsar Convention as a wetland of international importance. This will be the first trans-boundary wetland in South Asia under the convention.
Flora, fauna and geography
The brackish water of the lake has very low micro-vegetation. Guides report that there are no fish or other aquatic life in the lake, except for some small crustaceans. On the other hand, visitors see numerous ducks and gulls over and on the lake surface. There are some species of scrub and perennial herbs that grow in the marshes around the lake.
The lake acts as an important breeding ground for a variety of birds including a number of migratory birds. During summer, the Bar-headed goose and Brahmini ducks are commonly seen here. The region around the lake supports a number of species of wildlife including the kiang and the Marmot.
Formerly, Pangong Tso had an outlet to Shyok River, a tributary of Indus River, but it was closed off due to natural damming. Two streams feed the lake from the Indian side, forming marshes and wetlands at the edges. Strand lines above current lake level reveal a 5 m (16 ft) thick layer of mud and laminated sand, suggesting the lake has shrunken recently in geological scale. No fish have been observed in the lake, however in the stream coming from South-eastern side (Cheshul nalla), three fish species (Schizopygopsis stoliczkae, Triplophysa stoliczkae and Triplophysa gracilis) have been reported (Bhat et al., 2011). The low biodiversity in the lake has been reported as being due to high salinity and harsh environmental conditions (Bhat et al., 2011).