(The pearl shaped mountain lake)
The trip to Tsomoriri Lake, nearly 300 kilometres from Leh, would take all of 6 hours to cover, so we decided to leave very early and very well stocked. Tsomoriri is like no man's land - no food, no cold drinks and definitely no petrol. So you have to make your own arrangements from Leh. Not only did we carry sleeping bags, small tents and thick quilts, we also had a trunk full of our rations for the dinner and breakfast at Tsomoriri, including utensils, and a kerosene stove.
17 kilometres from Leh on the way to the lake, is situated at the Thiksay monastery one of the largest and architecturally most exquisite 'gompas' in Ladakh.
Our first break was at the petrol station, not just to fill up the tank but an extra can of it as well.
Tsomoriri Lake lies close to the Indo-China border and is not accessible without a special permit, which your travel agent can arrange for you at a minimal cost. Costs for an overnight trip to Tsomoriri is about 3000 rupees for a family of four including jeep hire charges.
Why Tsomoriri :-
There is a story about how the lake got its name. Once a nun on a yak named Tsomo were travelling across the lake when the yak began to drown. The nun managed to wade to shore and called out "ri ri", which meant 'come here' to the yak, and so the name Tsomoriri.
The journey is long and takes longer still if you keep stopping to get a feel of the beautiful majestic mountains. Through the yellow orange hued hills we meandered alongside the river Indus.
The wonderful part of driving through these hills is that there is always a surprise awaiting you around a bend in the road. The first one was the complete turnabout in the colour of the hills from orange to a pinkish purple. The second surprise was an exquisite wild rose garden right in the middle of nowhere. Such gorgeous events can occur only in the beautiful Ladakhi terrain.
Anyway, it was time to move on and move we did, because you see, the metal road on which we'd been travelling for over 4 hours terminated some 150 kilometres before Tsomoriri and turned into a `kuccha' road. Now if you're of a queasy disposition maybe you should sit in your hotel room because the drive is not very comfortable.
It was after almost 10 hours since we began, that we reached Tsomoriri Lake stretching magnificently all of 20 kilometres. It was too late for a clear view of the lake but not for us to see the thousand hues of blue that were painted on to the scenery. I had till now only seen pretty pictures of sapphire blue waters and skies. Used to the monochromatic greys of the city, the vivid colour of the lake seemed almost unnatural.
While it had been freezing at night, the morning heat was quite strong even at 9 o'clock. It is advisable to use layers and layers of sunscreen.
A good breakfast of hot tea, scrambled eggs and toast was the ideal refresher for the day ahead. While we left the others to do the packing before my friend Staney and I set out to the little village of Korzok, the last inhabited area of the region, to get a view of the lake. Besides the people of this village the other inhabitants are the nomadic herds people Chang-pa, who live in makeshift tents, travelling to green patches and to streams the whole year round.
We decided to spend a little time at the shore to get a close up view of the crystal clear water. Then we began our return journey by driving around the beautiful lake. The other side of the lake is not accessible to anyone, and in fact from Korzok the road to the lake has been fenced.
The lake is exquisite and forever embedded in my memory. I think the trip to Tsomoriri was an excellent finale to our journey into the land they call Shangri La.