Tag Archives: Tso Kar

A day at White Lake Tso Kar in Ladakh

As we are writing our next series of Leh Ladakh road trip from Delhi, we are getting nostalgic. We started writing about the Nubra Valley but the story of White Lake Tso Kar, which is the smallest of the three main high altitude lakes of Ladakh (Pangong Tso, Tso Moriri, and Tso Kar) popped up before in our mind. So let’s know a little about white Lake Tso Kar in Ladakh.

A day at White Lake Tso Kar in Ladakh

Route for the White Lake Tso Kar

Tso Kar can be reached directly from Tso Moriri, via going to Leh from Manali or via returning from Leh to Manali.

From Tso Moriri

White Lake Tso Kar lays 90 km from Tso Moriri and the total distance can be covered in 4-5 hrs. The roads of this route are only of gravel and dirt.

From Leh

Tso Kar lays 153 km from Leh. Ahead Debring, there is a diversion for Tso Kar. The whole distance can be covered in 5 hrs, crossing Taglang La. The roads are really good except a few patches of gravel and dirt.

Road to White Lake Tso Kar
Road to White Lake Tso Kar

White Lake Tso Kar

The White Lake Tso Kar, also known as Kar Tso or Tsho Kar is an L shaped brackish water lake in Ladakh at an altitude of 15,367 feet. It is not a wide expanse of blue water like Tso Moriri and Pangong Tso but a marshland in the wide valley with deep water at places, spreading up to 7.5 Kilometre. The other end of Tso Kar can’t be traced standing anywhere, even from the Thukje monastery top.


Around the White Lake Tso Kar, there is dense and tall grass and thick salt deposits. The salt deposits can be seen on all the sides of the lake, making it look white but the maximum was on the eastern side and these exactly resembled the days or month’s old snow from a distance. The salt was and is still collected by the local nomads known as Rupsu Chang and traded locally in Jammu and Kashmir.

White Lake Tso Kar
View of White Lake Tso Kar on a cloudy evening

Tso Kar, the White Lake is not as blue and turquoise like other lakes of Leh but it is more of bluish-white. It is surrounded by snow-capped peaks on the western bank whereas the colored reddish-purple hue mountains on the southeastern side. The straight tarmac roads run in the village between the valley and look newly built and super clean.

Stacked Coloured Mountains on the Southeastern side of White Lake Tso kar
Stacked Reddish purple-colored Mountains at White Lake Tso Kar

Historically, the White Lake Tso Kar ranged high up till the valley and the cutout marks by water can be clearly seen on these huge mountains, while ascending towards the beautiful Monastery of Thukje Village. But look at the lake now, it has receded drastically and is still receding every year.

White Lake Tso Kar with salt deposits on Clear Days
White Lake Tso Kar with salt deposits (Source: Wikipedia)

Fauna at White Lake Tso Kar

The surrounding countryside of Tso Kar is a bird watcher and wildlife paradise.  Locals answer the place to be home to the Kiangs, Tibetan gazelles, Tibetan wolves, and foxes. We only could trace the Beautiful Kiangs/ Kyangs, the largest of wild asses sprinting and roaring around the white lake. The roaring sound was loud, distinct and it echoed in the empty valley, leaving us completely chaotic and fuddled. At the basin, one can find ducks, black-necked cranes, bar-headed geese, and crested grebe. The Black-necked cranes come to Tso Kar to lay eggs.

Accommodation at White Lake Tso Kar

There are just single-digit counted white gray parachute tents, homestays, and resorts at Tukhje village. We choose to spend a night at Tso Kar resort which lies at the end of the village and away from the White Lake Tso Kar, completely engulfed in the calmness of the virgin landscapes.

Tents at Tso Kar Resort - White Lake Tso Kar
Tents at Tso Kar Resort

Tso Kar Eco Resort

The Tso Kar Eco resort houses both tents as well as rooms. We choose the tent first, thinking the clouds will vanish by night and we will be able to see the galaxies above. But the temperature dipped further because of strong wind, rain, and snowflakes in the late evening and it forced us to move to the rooms. Rooms at the resort are very basic, equipped with enough blankets and quilts to keep you warm, but still, AMS (Acute mountain sickness or Altitude sickness) surely hits one at Tso Kar. We too felt this was the coldest place and night in our whole Leh Ladakh road trip. The staff of the hotel was quite courteous and friendly. They enlightened us about the locality but still, we were uncomfortable and uneasy because of the chill.

Views from Tso Kar Resort- White Lake Tso Kar
Tso Kar Resort

Cook served us a three-meal course dinner with 90’s songs playing in the background but we were not able to take even two courses in that cold. Electricity comes in the village as well as the resort only after 7:00 pm or when it gets dark and stays till 11:00 pm. In the morning, there is no hot water in the washrooms but staff provides the same in buckets to get fresh. And forget about the phone and internet connections here.


After getting fresh, we drove till the Tukjhe monastery to get a glimpse of the Tso Kar lake from height and that is what we saw- not only the white and blue stripe of the lake but the vast shaded landscapes extending up to several kilometers. The scenery around can make you stare it for hours.

Monastery at Village Tujhske, near White Lake Tso Kar
The monastery at Village Tujhske
Glimpse of Village & White Lake Tso Kar from Tujhske Monastery
View of Village Tukhje and Tso Kar from Monastery

That was not the end; we came back to the Tso Kar Resort to take out luggage to leave ahead but our chit-chat with the staff members of Tso Kar resort still continued. We were really curious to know what they do in their free time. And the answer was full of leisure time. They listen to songs, chit chat, soak and sleep in sun. Interestingly one of them, Tenzin loved to write too.  The writing he shared with us was simply amazing and we thought of sharing his thoughts with you with his permission.

“Talking with Nature”

Early in the morning, the silver moon gives way to the Crimson Sun;

Drops of Dew smile, but mud still smells with night rains;

Walking down the Lanes of Memory, each step tells a story;

With each story there is a change;

But I continue my walk…………

Cold, soothing, fresh fragrance; breeze with a feathery touch;

Feels the same as a year before;

Red, Blue, Yellow flowers smile and sway everywhere in the valley,

Making me wonder have I changed;

Cooing Doves, calling sparrows & a wagging tail dog passes, smiling my way back

But I continue my walk…………

We read the poem multiple times standing there and felt his talk with nature is deep and lovely.  The village Tukhje and white Lake Tso Kar are natural and straight out from heaven. There are the only bunch of villagers in the village and army base which is a kilometer away. Villagers might be talking and spending time with each other but they also love talking to nature. After all, nature is their best and forever friend in this deserted barren land.

alking With Nature - White Lake Tso Kar

Points to remember at White Lake Tso Kar

  1. Even, if the days are warm at Tso Kar, evenings and nights can be chilly. So carry and wear woolens timely. And if it rains, on that, the temperature can even dip to 0 or -1 degree Celsius in summers.
  2. Rooms are basic in Tso Kar but they are good enough to keep you warm.
  3. There are high chances of being hit by AMS at 15,000 feet. So, take precautions to tackle it and stay warm. If AMS gets worse, do take help.
  4. Before heading towards the lake, check the trail carefully, as it is a marshland.Evenings at White Lake Tso kar
  5. The Lake is accessible only from June to October.
  6. Don’t roam alone on the roads after late evening as wild animals to roam freely that time
  7. Kiangs run and make you run endlessly if you try to come close to click them.
  8. The horns of Urial (Wild Sheep) and Yak are kept as guardians, outside the homes in Ladakh. And don’t try to bring them at home with you, as the hotel staff informed us that it is illegal.

    Horns of Urial (Wild Sheep) and Yak outside Tso Kar Home: White Lake Tso Kar
    Horns of Urial (Wild Sheep) and Yak outside Tso Kar Home

Overall, we enjoyed staying and spending time at white Lake Tso Kar and the resort. We will surely like to go back when it’s sunny to get more views. What about you?

Apart from this you can check our other series of Leh Ladakh road trip

  1. Leh Ladakh road trip itinerary from Delhi
  2. A walk with Indian soldier at Kargil War Memorial
  3. 6 must-visit Leh Ladakh Palaces before they disappear
  4. Ladakh: The Land of High Passes
  5. All you need to know about Leh Ladakh inner Line Permit
  6. Attractions on the Srinagar Leh Highway
  7. Nubra Valley: The Valley of Flowers in Ladakh
  8. Story of Gata Loops
  9. Dos and Donts for Ladakh Road Trip
  10. Hemis Monastery: Biggest & Wealthiest Gompa in Ladakh
  11. Sonamarg, Kashmir – The Golden Meadows of India
  12. Bhuttico Kullu Shawls & Accessories – The Gift of Valley
  13. Leh Palace
  14. 10 reasons why everyone should travel India
  15. The colored Tibetan Prayer Stones – Mani Stones

Leh Ladakh road trip from Delhi – 13 days itinerary

Some of the places are always your dream destinations; even after knowing that they are well connected by roads but still cut out from the rest of the world. Leh Ladakh road trip from Delhi was one of our dreams. We were trying to accomplish this 3500 km road trip dream for three years and finally, it happened in 2017.

Route Map for Leh Ladakh road trip from Delhi
Route Map

The each landscape, mountain, road, stream throughout the road trip is unique and has its own tale. So, now do we have?

Starting with Julley! Joolay! Julley from Ladakh- the land of high passes is a mesmerizing, indeed a magical word to say Hi, Hello, Namaste, Welcome and goodbye. It brings a smile whenever we say it. Anyways we have lots to talk about this epic road trip; starting with the itinerary or travel guide for Leh Ladakh road trip.

13 days itinerary for Leh Ladakh road trip from Delhi

13 days Itinerary for Leh Ladakh road trip

There are two routes to reach Leh – one from Manali and another from Srinagar, Sonamarg. We did the circuit route, starting from Jammu to Leh and back via old Manali. So, we will be talking about the 13 days guide on it.

Day 1 (Delhi – Jammu)

Start from Delhi around 6-7 am and try to cover the distance till Jammu.

Route: Delhi – Ambala- Khanna- Ludhiana –Pathankot- Jammu

Total Distance: 588 Km

Total Time: 10 -12 Hrs

The condition of roads: Excellent; National Highway with multiple tolls. The whole route is plains.

Places to explore on the way: Nothing much except the huge swaying paddy field of Punjab.

Route to Jammu - Leh Ladakh Road trip from Delhi

Day 2 (Jammu – Srinagar- Sonamarg)

Start from Jammu around 7 am to reach Srinagar or Sonamarg. We planned to stay at Sonamarg instead of Srinagar because of the unrest going in Srinagar from the past few days.

Route: Jammu – Udhampur – Ramban- Anantnag – Srinagar – Sonamarg

Total Distance: 336 km

Total Time: 8-10 hrs

Condition of roads: Excellent; National Highway with tolls, plain as well as hilly drive

Tunnels: India’s longest 9 Km tunnel; Chenani – Nashri (also known as Patnitop tunnel) has got opened in 2017 itself and it has cut short the total distance by 41 km. Another, 3 km long Jawahar Tunnel; also known as Banihal Tunnel.

Places to explore on the way: Dal Lake, Shikara ride in Srinagar, and huge golden meadows of Sonamarg.

Dal Lake, Srinagar - Leh Ladakh road trip from Delhi
Dal Lake, Srinagar

Day 3 (Sonamarg – Drass – Kargil)

In the morning get up early to see the first sun rays striking the mountain peaks of Sonamarg, roam and feel its golden meadows (the real Kashmir). And leave for Kargil by 10 -11 am.

Route: Sonamarg- Baltal- Drass – Kargil

Total Distance: 125 km

Total Time: 3 -4 hrs direct-drive whereas 6-7 hrs with sightseeing

Condition of roads: Excellent roads but few broken patches too

Passes: Zoji La Pass at 11,575 feet which connects Kashmir and Ladakh Valley

Places to explore on the way: Zojila Pass, Zero Point, Baltal from where Amarnath yatra begins, Drass war memorial, Elephant ridge, view of Tiger Hill, Kargil War Memorial and apricot plantations

Zero Point at ZojiLa - Leh Ladakh road trip from Delhi
Zero Point at ZojiLa

Day 4 (Kargil- Lamayuru – Leh)

Leave from Kargil around 9 am to have full time for sightseeing on the way.

Route: Kargil – Mulbekh-  Fotu La pass – Lamayuru – Leh

Total Distance: 217 km

Total Time: 8 -9 hrs with sightseeing

The condition of roads: Continuous ascent and descents; good roads with few broken patches in between.

Passes: Namika La at an altitude of 12139 feet and Fotu La pass at an altitude of 13,478 feet

Places to explore on the way: At Mulbekh, the future Buddha statue dating back to the 1st century, Fotu La Pass, the ruins of Chiktan Fort; at Lamayuru the old Lamayuru monastery and moon lands, Gurdwara Pathar Sahib at Nimu, the magnetic hill and confluence of Indus – Zanskar River.


In between the journey there are several attractions to explore on Srinagar Leh Highway. Don’t miss them!

Day 5 & Day 6: (Leh)

Take rest, get acclimatized, and explore the city of Lamas.

Places to explore: Leh Palace, Shanti Stupa, Hall of fame; Hemis monastery (45 km from Leh); and Leh market. Take a permit from the DC office to further explore Nubra Valley and Pangong Lake.

Also on the way, you must explore –6 must visit Leh Ladakh Palaces before they disappear

On the way to Leh - Leh Ladakh road trip from Delhi

Day 7 (Leh –Nubra/Nobra Valley – Hunder)

Route: Leh – North Pullu -Khardungla Pass – South Pullu – Diskit – Hunder

Total Distance: 127 km

Total Time: 6-7 hrs with sightseeing

The condition of roads: Completely broken patch of 20 km at and around Khardung La till South Pullu.

Passes: Khardung La, the highest motorable road and pass at an altitude of 18380 feet

Places to explore on the way: Khardungla Pass, Diskit Monastery; the tallest statue of Maitreya Buddha and Hunder Sand dunes.

Nubra Valley - Leh Ladakh road trip from Delhi
Hunder; Nubra Valley

Day 8 (Hunder – Pangong Tso)

There are two routes to reach Pangong Lake from Khalsar (33 Km from Hunder); one via Shyok and another via Leh. Check with the BRO (Border roads organization) or locals if the route from Shyok is accessible or not. During our travel, there was a major landslide on the Shyok way, so we had to travel all the way from Khardung La again to reach Pangong Tso.

Route: Hunder – Khardungla- Leh – Thiksey – Changa- Tangtse – Pangong Tso  OR  Hunder – Khalsar – Shyok – Tangtse – Pangong Tso

Total Distance: 240 Km via Shyok and 351 km via Leh

Total Time: 8 hrs via Shyok and 11 – 12 hrs via Leh

The condition of roads: The roads are bad at and around Kardungla. Gushing streams; and the paved road is on the way to Pangong from Changla whereas for the other route via Shyok; local taxi driver narrated that the route has many streams flowing on the road itself and sometimes it gets impossible to judge the depth and condition of the road.

Passes: Kardungla Pass at 18380 feet and Chang La pass at 17590 feet

Places to explore on the way: Pangong Lake, Chang La pass, Shyok River, ruins of Shey Palace, Thiksey monastery, Hemis monastery.

Pangong Lake - Leh Ladakh road trip from Delhi
Pangong Tso

Day 9 (Pangong Tso – Tso Moriri)

Route: Spangmik- Man- Merak – Chushul- Nyoma -Tso Moriri

Total Distance: 215 km

Total Time: 7 -9 Hrs

The condition of roads: Gravel and dirt tracks with streams flowing in between and you can drive maximum at a speed of 20-30 km/hr.

Places to explore on the way: Kaygar Tso, Tso Moriri, Chushul pass, Rezang La, Tsaka La, Namashang La  and straight roads traversing among the barren mountains

Tso Moriri - Leh Ladakh road trip from Delhi
Tso Moriri

Day10. (Tso Moriri – Tso Kar)


Total Distance: 90 km

Total Time: 4-5 hrs

The condition of roads: Gravel and dirt tracks, enclosed amidst the mountains. One can drive max at a speed of 20-30 km/hr (which can be irritating after a span). The road at Tso Kar village is metalled, a well-made road.

Places to explore on the way: Kaygar Tso, Puga hot springs, Polo KongKa La, and Salt deposits around Tso Kar Lake.

Kyagar Tso - Leh Ladakh road trip from Delhi
Kyagar Tso

Day 11 (Tso Kar – Keylong)

Start early from Tso Kar to reach Keylong by evening and trust me this is the most scenic ride.

Route: TsoKar – Debring – Pang -Sarchu – Zing Zing Bar –Jispa – Keylong

Total Distance: 250 km

Total Time: 8-10 hrs

Condition of roads: From Tso Kar to Manali Leh highway dirt road whereas afterward excellent paved roads till Pang, then continuous ascents, and descents with paved as well as dirt road patches, and too have to cross the famous Gata loops i.e. 21 loops within 6.5 kilometers

Passes: Lachalung La at an altitude of 16,616 feet, Lakeela at 15547 feet and BaraLacha at 16,040 feet

Places to explore on the way: Suraj Tal, Deepak Tal, Gata loops, Lachalung, Lakeela, and Baralacha pass

Gata Loops - Leh ladakh road trip from Delhi
Gata Loops (21 loops in 6.5 km)

Day 12 (Keylong – Manali)

The Keylong to Manali route is lush green and it’s just a 4-5 hr drive if the ascent to Rohtang pass is in good shape.

Route: Keylong – Sissu – Rohtang Pass – Marhi – Manali

Total Distance: 115 km

Total Time: 4-5 hrs

The condition of roads: From Keylong to Sissu excellent paved roads, then continuous bad road while the ascent of Rohtang pass and the good road while descents. Few gushing water streams in-between the roads.

Passes: Rohtang pass at an altitude of 13,050 feet

Places to explore on the way: Lots of seasonal waterfalls; Tourist Sissu village, Rohtang Pass, Old Manali, and lots of apple orchards. Note: You don’t need Rohtang Pass Permit while coming back from Leh to Manali. Also, shop the famous Bhuttico Kullu Shawls & Accessories known as the Gift of Kullu Valley.

Old Manali Bridge - Leh Ladakh road trip from Delhi
Old Manali Bridge

Day 13 (Manali – Delhi)

It is always tough to say goodbye to the valleys and it was toughest for Leh Ladakh road trip. The last day is going to be a long hectic drive day.

Route: Manali – Mandi – Rupnagar- Ambala – Panipat – Delhi

Total Distance: 537 Km

Total Time: 11-12 hrs

Condition of roads: Excellent, national highway

Places to explore on the way: Mandi; Chandigarh and delicious Punjabi food at Dhabas.

On the way to Mandi - Leh Ladakh road trip from Delhi
On the way to Mandi

Certain important Points for Leh Ladakh Road Trip

  • All these routes can be covered in a lesser time than mentioned, but we suggest stopping and taking the enthralling views.
  • There is neither a hurry to rush and reach anywhere in the valley, so drive slowly.
  • Listen to the locals for advice as they know the valleys better than a traveler.
  • Don’t drive at night as first you will miss the views and it is really risky. And if your vehicle breaks down there is nobody to help around for miles.
  • Spend a day or two at Leh, to get acclimatized for the higher altitudes.
  • Prepare yourself for AMS (Acute mountain sickness) which can vary just from a mild headache to breathlessness. If one is feeling severe restlessness, look for immediate help at the nearest shack or with BRO.

  • For certain areas in the valley, you need to take the Inner Line Permit.
  • Always have a day or two buffers in the Leh Ladakh road trip, as one never knows neither can predict the present and future situation of roads and landslides here.
  • Get your vehicles fuelled up at Leh as the next fuel station is available at Tandi, 365 km from Keylong.
  • For covering Tso Moriri and white Lake Tso Kar on the way from Pangong Lake, do carry extra fuel; at least 20 liters or even more.
  • If you are planning to go to Tso Kar directly from Pangong lake (which is 7-8 hrs journey), on the way you will cross Taglang La which is the world’s second-highest pass at an altitude 17,582 feet.
    TaglangLa - Leh Ladakh road trip from Delhi
    Taglang La
  • Drink lots of water and say complete no to drinks while driving and during your whole Leh Ladakh road trip. This is for the safety as well as helps to get acclimatized
  • Don’t litter around in the valley.
  • The idea of Leh Ladakh road trip itself means being in the lap of nature; away from the daily hustle-bustle and social media. We simply mean that here there is no network. If you want to be in continuous touch with your family and friends do carry a BSNL sim.
  • ATM services are available at Srinagar, Leh and then at Keylong. So carry enough cash during your Leh Ladakh road trip and keep some as a buffer.
  • There are a lot of options for accommodations. Luckily, we got nice accommodation everywhere without booking but we recommend to have pre-bookings for the Leh Ladakh road trip.
  • In between, there are multiple shacks to enjoy Maggi, tea, coffee, paranthas, omelet, etc. These shacks do provide homestays too at very reasonable rates.
  • There are washrooms at the shacks for nature’s call and one needs to shell 5 -10 Rs each time.

Leh Ladakh road trip from Delhi: 13 days itinerary

This is just the start of our Leh Ladakh road trip travel series. Stay tuned to know and see more in detail.

You might be interested in checking our other series of Ladakh too:

Nubra Valley: The Valley of Flowers in Ladakh

A day at White Lake Tso Kar in Ladakh

Attractions on the Srinagar Leh Highway

Ladakh-The land of High Passes

All you need to know about Leh Ladakh Inner Line Permit

6 must-visit Leh Ladakh Palaces before they disappear

A Walk with Indian Soldier at Kargil War Memorial

Leh Palace

Hemis Monastery

Story of Gata loops, Manali Leh Highway

Dos and Donts for Ladakh road trip

All you need to know about Rohtang Pass Permit

Sonamarg Kashmir- The Golden Meadows of India

Our Love for Old Manali over Main Manali

You can also read about our other Spiti Valley road trip here.