A day at White Lake Tso Kar in Ladakh

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

41 thoughts on “A day at White Lake Tso Kar in Ladakh”

  • Such a pity that the road to White Lake Tso Kar is not that good, but still – you’ve managed, right! And the surroundings seems so rewarding. It looks so beautiful and serene by the lake, like there’s no one there. I can only imagine how that roaring sound must have echoed in the valley! 🙂 Must have been some experience!

  • It sounds like quite the chilly night in Tso Kar! But what a unique and interesting experience. And the mountains look absolutely stunning there. I loved that little poem by Tenzin and it’s so cute that he shared it with you – happy travels!

  • This post is so packed with information! A wonderful read, and the photos are stunning! It looks like you had an amazing (if chilly!) trip. Definitely bookmarking this for future reference 🙂

  • This photography is absolutely gorgeous! It looks like such a beautiful and remote area, especially with your tip that you shouldn’t walk around at night because of the wild animals! I think when I think of India I think of bustling stressful cities, so it’s really nice to see the beautiful nature as well. Would love to visit here one day.

    Also just a heads up that you wrote this paragraph twice:
    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.

  • The White Lake looks so exquisitely beautiful. The white tents look inviting, though I am sure they left you exposed to the vagaries of the elements at night, no wonder you had to shift to the rooms. And yes I am sure AMS is a real threat in these parts and one needs to take all possible preventive measures

  • There are many salt lakes in Australia, but I didn’t know they existed at such a high altitude! The roads also sound similar to some of the more remote parts of Australia – but the scenery is completely different! It’d be so fascinating to visit this remote and wild region, but I think I would opt for the hotel room rather than the tent too! I loved Tenzin’s poem – it really captures the spirit of this amazing place.

  • The white lake sounds really fascinating – I’ve been to a couple of different salt lakes before, and the large chunks of salt deposits are always an interesting thing to marvel at. I would love to visit to also explore the surrounding countryside of Tso Kar as my husband and I are avid bird watchers and wildlife fans. We haven’t seen any Tibetan gazelles, Tibetan wolves, or foxes in our travel yet so knowing they’re out there would be a big incentive to visit! Parachute tents look like really unique and authentic accommodation – thanks for this post!

  • Nice post about an area that I hope to see by myself soon. I know that I want to go to Ladakh but I don’t know exactly what’s there (apart from nice mountains and landscapes) so I am appreciating all these details. Thanks

  • 0 or -1 degree Celsius in summer… holy moly that’s freezing, I complain when the temp sits at 20c. What was inside the parachute tents? And what did the cook serve? A 3 course meal is amazing, i’d be tempted to visit knowing a 3 course meal is served. Haha, clearly food is a big motivator for me. 🙂

  • Ladakh is actually heaven on Earth. Unfortunately, it has been spoiled by too much commercialization. I had been to Tso Kar lake couple of times. First time when i went there, there wasn’t a single vehicle but now more people have started visiting it. However, it is far better than Pangong Tso.

  • I was following this series of your Le Ladakh road trip and I’m happy to read another part of it! My favorite part, aside from the stunning view and the amazing lake, is your stay at the resort and the poem shared to you by Tenzin. I can feel how connected he is with nature and the place itself. This is such a beautiful journey, I’ll wait for the next one!

  • That’s a really cool road trip, I totally love these desolated landscapes. Sleeping in these tents lost in the mountains sounds like a fun experience to me. Thanks for sharing all these details, defnitely helpful for anyone planning to do this trip!

  • This looks like such a beautiful and remote spot! But yikes, those cold nights sound unpleasant. I can’t imagine staying in a tent in that weather…sounds like you made the right call by moving to the rooms.

  • I absolutely love the wastness of this region, it’s so beautiful! To sleep in one of those tents would be so cool! I wonder how cold it was? I once slept in a tent while it was snowing and this was pretty cold 😀 Thank you for showing us this great area of this world!

  • Having just read your post I’m trying to pinpoint exactly the feeling it leaves me with, it’s so vast and sounds like the weather is in extremes. The tents look fun, but as you say, it would be not so much fun at all when the temps dropped and the snow started. Great photos and they really transport you there.

  • What a great poem! Love it and the scenery in the area looks beautiful. I had never heard of these lakes before, but would love to check them out sometime. Thanks for the introduction to the region!

  • After completing Spiti Circuit, entire Ladakh region is high on my priority list. I must say, as expected, all images are stunning. I find Tso Kar better than Pangong as it is less crowded and less commercialized. Would certainly live in one of those swiss tents.