Tso Moriri: A mystical magical lake in Ladakh

Mighty, endless, vast, abundant, clear, beautiful and pure…it touched and moved us like only Nature can. At Tso Moriri, all we could do was bow down and feel blessed at having witnessed it.

Tso Moriri, at a distance of around 250 km from Leh is a high altitude mountain lake at a height of around 4500 m, in Ladakh.

Mighty, endless, vast, abundant, clear, beautiful and pure…it touches you and moves you like only Nature can. Read about our visit to Tso Moriri at Mystical magical Tso Moriri lake in Ladakh.

Tso Moriri was a surprise outing for us. By the time we reached Ladakh, we had already spent two months in the hills. We were yearning for some “plains time”. Ladakh was only going to be a stopover to get to Manali. More importantly, we knew we would have to – just have to keep coming back to Ladakh.

But unexpected opportunities is what travel is all about.

Just as we got off the bus at Leh, we met three guys looking for company for a trip to Tso Moriri. Even before we had found a place to stay in Leh, we were sorted for a trip to Tso Moriri.

We set off early morning from Leh. On the way, we saw some characteristically summer scenes of Ladakh.

Summer months see a lot of construction activity in Ladakh. We saw this scene on our way to Tso Moriri, a mountain lake in Ladakh. They were building a wall to restrict the snow in the winter from getting on the road. Read about our visit to Tso Moriri at Mystical magical Tso Moriri lake in Ladakh.

Construction activity was on at a lot of places. We saw these labourers building a wall by the side of the road. This was to protect the road from land and snow slides in the winter.

We saw her on our way to Tso Moriri, a high altitude mountain lake in Ladakh. She was basking in the sun, readying for the harsh winters of Ladakh, creating beautiful patterns on a shawl she was weaving on a traditional wooden loom.  Read about our visit to Tso Moriri at Mystical magical Tso Moriri lake in Ladakh.

She was basking in the sun, readying for the harsh winters of Ladakh. She was busy creating beautiful patterns on a shawl she was weaving on a traditional wooden loom. Threads in reds, greens and yellow were getting interwoven at a dizzyingly fast pace.

We wanted to ask her about her design process, but realised she would think we were fools asking such questions.

These skills, passed down generations are their inherent gifts!

Swinging wooden bridges like this one are a common means of connecting villages to the roads in Ladakh. We saw this bridge on the way to the high altitude mountain lake Tso Moriri. Read about our visit to Tso Moriri at Mystical magical Tso Moriri lake in Ladakh.

No, we didn’t have to cross that bridge.

We saw many unfinished bridges on our way to Tso Moriri, a high altitude mountain lake in Ladakh. What we also saw, were purple mountains. Yeah, that's right, purple! Read about our visit to Tso Moriri at Mystical magical Tso Moriri lake in Ladakh.

Nor this one! There were a lot of under construction bridges on our way to Tso Moriri.

There is a small mountain pass enroute Tso Moriri. The pass isn’t really a tough one, but it did break our backs. The roads are actually a gravel path in a very very bad condition.

But the purple mountains! Yes, that’s right, “purple”! They will just blow you away!

This is the bridge at a village called Mahe. The bridge leads to Tso Moriri, a high altitude mountain lake in Ladakh. Going straight ahead leads to Pangong Tso, another lake. Read about our visit to Tso Moriri at Mystical magical Tso Moriri lake in Ladakh.

We did cross this bridge at Mahe. This is the first checkpoint on the way to Tso Moriri from Ladakh. Inner line permit, which is to be obtained from Leh, is needed to visit Tso Moriri.

This point is also a junction for the routes to Tso Moriri and Pangong Tso. The more popular route from Leh to Pangong Tso is through Chang la. This is an alternate (and lonely) route. Head straight ahead to go to Pangong Tso. Take a right to cross the bridge for Tso Moriri.

A typical high altitude Himalayan scene: Barley fields, white mud houses surrounded by the barren mountains. Out here, living in sync with nature is not a choice but the only way, life is possible. Read about our visit to Tso Moriri at Mystical magical Tso Moriri lake in Ladakh.

This is a typical high altitude village scene of Ladakh. Barley fields, white mud houses surrounded by the barren Greater Himalayan mountain range.

This was village Purga on our way to Tso moriri. It was a surreal landscape, devoid of colour.

Yet, there was something hauntingly beautiful about these villages. It could be the romance of an isolated life so evidenced by these surroundings.

Or the constant reminder, that there is just one force that controls life here: nature!

Living in sync with nature is not a choice but the only way, life here is possible.

Kyogar lake or Tso Kyogar  is the trailer before Tso Moriri. It is a couple of hours before the actual Tso Moriri lake begins. Read about our visit to Tso Moriri at Mystical magical Tso Moriri lake in Ladakh.

This emerald coloured lake is Tso Kyogar.

A couple of hours before Tso Moriri, it was a perfect built up to our expectations from Tso Moriri.

Tso Kyogar appeared out of nowhere towards the end of the mountain road from Leh to Tso Moriri.

With the entrée so good, the main course ought to be exceptional. And exceptional it was!

For most part of the drive to Tso Moriri we were negotiating ups and downs through the mountains. Suddenly we hit this vast flatland. It was hard to imagine you are at a height of 4500m. Read about our visit to Tso Moriri at Mystical magical Tso Moriri lake in Ladakh.

After crossing Tso Kyogar, a steep incline led to a huge plateau. This flat land became our new reference plane.

For most part of the drive to Tso Moriri we were negotiating ups and downs through the mountains. Suddenly we hit this vast flatland. It was hard to imagine we were at an elevation of 4500 m.

This plateau gave us enchanting views of this small (strictly relatively) Tso Kyogar.

For most part of the drive to Tso Moriri we were negotiating ups and downs through the mountains. Suddenly we hit this vast flatland. It was hard to imagine you are at a height of 4500m. Read about our visit to Tso Moriri at Mystical magical Tso Moriri lake in Ladakh.

As our car approached this plateau, we saw this long line of flags bouncing in the air. It was strung at two hilltops traversing the whole width of the plateau.

How did the flags get there? Your guess would be as good as ours!

Breath taking beauty deserves one of its kind commute.People working near the out-of-this-world-stunning Tso Moriri lake in Ladakh can not travel to work like you and I.Buses and trains won't do for them. Rakes of bulldozers will! Read about our visit to Tso Moriri at Mystical magical Tso Moriri lake in Ladakh.

Breath taking beauty deserves one of its kind commute.

People working near the out-of-this-world-stunning Tso Moriri lake in Ladakh can not travel to work like you and I.

Buses and trains won’t do for them. Rakes of bulldozers will!

Mighty, endless, vast, abundant, clear, beautiful and pure…it touches you and moves you like only Nature can. Read about our visit to Tso Moriri at Mystical magical Tso Moriri lake in Ladakh.

The drive from Leh to Tso Moriri had been a 250 km long wait of 8 hours.

The purple mountains and the Tso Kyogar had given us a glimpse of the magnificence we were about to see.

After making stay arrangements in Korzok, the base village of Tso Moriri, the time had finally arrived. We started (what felt like) the long walk to Tso Moriri.

Our hearts were thumping (with high altitude, yes! but more so) with excitement. It had already sensed some magic.

We knew we were about to witness one of our most special moments ever!

These barley fields separate the village Korzok, the base village for Tso Moriri from the lake itself. Tso Moriri is a high altitude mountain lake in Ladakh. Read about our visit to Tso Moriri at Mystical magical Tso Moriri lake in Ladakh.

These barley fields separate Korzok from the Tso Moriri itself.

The whites (of the houses) of Korzok, followed by the greens of barley fields leading to the stunning blues of Tso Moriri lake itself, sealed by the browns of the Greater Himalayas is the general colour palette of this landscape!

Tso Moriri is a wetland sanctuary and a protected zone. Vehicles are prohibited beyond the Korzok village.

Due to its long distance of 250 km from Leh, Tso Moriri is not frequented by too many tourists. Which meant, we had the entire Tso Moriri all to ourselves!

Mighty, endless, vast, abundant, clear, beautiful and pure…it touches you and moves you like only Nature can. Read about our visit to Tso Moriri at Mystical magical Tso Moriri lake in Ladakh.

Mighty mountains, snow capped peaks, lush green fields and the deep blue water stretching to the horizon, Tso Moriri offers it all.

Mighty, endless, vast, abundant, clear, beautiful and pure…it touches you and moves you like only Nature can. Read about our visit to Tso Moriri at Mystical magical Tso Moriri lake in Ladakh.

But what stunned us most about Tso Moriri was the magical feeling of it’s first glimpse!

 In its isolation, unending vastness and sheer raw beauty, we sensed an untouched purity.

Top travel tips for the Tso Moriri Visit :

  • Indian tourists do no need a permit to visit Tso Moriri since May 2014 but if you are foreign national then you’ll need it.
  • All travellers must carry valid photo ID like PAN card, aadhar card, driving license, passport as proof of nationality.
  • Visit Tso Moriri and the interior parts of Ladakh only after you have acclimatised to the high altitude in Leh.
  • Dstance from Leh to Tso Moriri is a good 250 km. Do not trust Google Maps when it says time taken will be around 4 hours. Google doesn’t know the roads of the higher Himalayas. DO NOT plan a day trip to Tso Moriri from Leh. In any case, the sunrise and the sunset are the best times of the day to visit Tso Moriri. Don’t visit Tso Moriri to tick it off the list. Experience Tso Moriri.
  • You can carry your vehicles only upto the Korzok village. Since the area around Tso Moriri is a wetland sanctuary, you are not allowed to carry your vehicles closer to the lake.
  • Planning a trip to Ladakh but not have enough time and information? Try these Ladakh Tour Packages by travel companies.

Map of travel from Leh to Tso Moriri

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Sandeepa and Chetan. Married. Indians. Exploring Travel as Lifestyle. Featured by National Geographic, Yahoo. We hope that through our travel stories we inspire others to make their dream into a reality.

Comments

63 thoughts on “Tso Moriri: A mystical magical lake in Ladakh

  1. Abhinav

    Hey, Kudos to those amazing photographs!! Can you tell me which camera you use and what lens usually? I wouldnt want to mess up my Leh Trip with bad pictures at all. I know everyone was asking you about travel tips but It would be great if you can share some photography tips for Leh Trip

  2. Bidisha

    Beautiful post, I was looking for Tso Moriri on google that I stumbled upon your blog. The pictures are surreal and absolutely breathtaking. Though I hoped to see a picture of the woman weaving her shawl on the wooden loom. 🙂

  3. Pingback: Tso Moriri, Ladakh, India | Weililan

  4. Pingback: India – Tso Moriri in Ladakh | Weililan

  5. Pingback: India, Ladakh – Tso Moriri | Weililan

    1. Sandeepa Chetan Post author

      Hi Pankaj, August-September is the best time. You can be almost assured that there won’t be blockages due to snow. Also, since Tso Moriri doesn’t get too crowded it’s okay to visit even in peak season.

  6. Aditi Chaudhary

    Hi – If we are short on time and dont want to extend the trip beyond 10 days then what would be better to choose between Pangong lake and Tso moriri lake? We plan to do Mumbai to Del by flight and then delhi to manali by car and from Manali to leh in a tour in June 2017. Which are the most reliable tours from Manali to leh? Thanks,

    1. Sandeepa Chetan Post author

      Hey Aditi, as we have said in our story of the Leh Manali highway, it is better to travel from Leh to Manali instead of the other way around. We would recommend flying into Leh, travelling around Ladakh and getting off the Leh Manali highway by road. There is infact a way to get on the Leh Manali highway, without coming back all the way to Leh, (near Tanglang la) directly from Tso Moriri (via Tso Kar). Look these up on the map for a clear picture. You don’t need a tour for travelling around Ladakh. Happy travels!

      1. Aditi Chaudhary

        Hey Sandeepa Chetan, Thank you so much for the prompt reply. Will surely look up and thanks for the suggestions 🙂 Your blog is simply superb! Great work!

    1. Sandeepa Chetan Post author

      Hey, if you ar already in Leh in December (and very very brave!), then yes – you can visit Tso Moriri in December. It will most likely be all frozen, and the mountain covered in snow. Temperatures can fall as low as -25 to -30. Fuel also freezes sometimes. You have to be equipped to handle all of this. Make sure the driver is experienced in winter driving in Ladakh. It isn’t for everyone – but winter in Ladakh – is a dream!

  7. Adithya Narayan

    Are bikes rented from Manali permitted in Tso Mo Ri Ri? Or is it mandatory that the bikes should be rented from Leh? Coz I plan to exit through leh manali highway directly from Tso Mo RI Ri!!!

  8. priya

    HI, Sandeepa Chetan

    Thank you so much for sharing your experience .The pics you have shared are extremly astounding ..
    i have a small query for you …Im visiting LEh-Ladkh this month 14th and i suggested my husband to take bike ride from leh to hunder …can you please suggest if the ride would be safe as we have to travel as a couple(just 2) to such long distance[to/From around 340KM]..???

    PLease suggest me .

    I’m really freaking out to travel to such places alone [ofcourse with my husnband) ..at the same time i want to have this ride at any cost :):) i love love love travelling ..

    1. Sandeepa Chetan Post author

      You will come across many bikers in Ladakh, maybe you can just club in with those that match your dates. We didn’t bike it in Ladakh, but heard from experienced bikers that it’s not for the faint hearted. They loved biking it through the high mountain landscapes, but yes, it gets tiring and it is better to have company, if something goes wrong with the bike.

  9. aman yadav

    hi sandeep . your blog is really nice and it has helped me in planning my trip to leh in many ways.
    I wanted to ask just one thing . i am planning to travel from tso moriri to pangong tso lake. so is there any public transport available at karzok or can we hire anything from karzok

    1. Sandeepa Chetan Post author

      Hello Aman, glad to know you found our story of Tso Moriri useful in planning your Ladakh travel. Tso Moriri to Pangong Tso is an uncommon route. As far as we know, the only public transport bus from Korzok is the one that goes to Leh. It would be best to hire a cab from Leh itself. You can have a look at devilonwheels website to check if hiring a cab from Korzok would be possible.

  10. Roshni

    4 of us. Thinking of planning a trip to Leh. Wanted to know how we can travel in and around Leh. Thinking of travelling from Delhi by bus.
    Do we need a special permit to drive a car?
    Only one of us can drive and we have around 10days. How should we travel? Bus or get the car?

    1. Sandeepa Chetan Post author

      Hey Roshni, since you already have a group of 4, you can hire a car from Leh to take you around Ladakh. That way, you can just focus on the travel experience. Also, having a local driver means always having a local person to guide you around – which is invaluable in Ladakh. Have an awesome trip to Ladakh! Happy travels!

  11. Rekha

    Beautiful photoes n captions. Keep it up. We are so blessed to be living in this motherland. When one is wth nature,one realizes dat one is nothing. All there is…is for us to enjoy d God-given bounties. D narrowness of d mind dissolves in d mightiness of d universe n its immense beauty. D ” i ” becomes insignificant. Our boundaries of geography,religion,creed n sex don’t make an iota of importance. Wonder what we r disputing upon n wasting precious time for.

      1. Subroto

        Is it possible to see Tso Moriri in one day, if I start early from Leh. Or are there any good place for night stay ??

        1. Sandeepa Chetan Post author

          Hello Subroto, Tso Moriri in a day from Leh is not possible, more importantly not worth it. There are many homestays in Korzok, the base village for Tso Moriri. It is easy to find accommodation once you reach Korzok, no need to pre-book. Happy travels!

  12. sushil

    Hi Sandeep very nice blog and amazed to see the pics and your words……We have a 7 days plan from 11th June(via make my trip) and after your blogs,google and suggestion from friends they are insisting to visit Tso-Moriri…..
    I do not have any choice to change my itinerary as we have taken standard package
    But now i want to visit Tso-Moriri as well at any cost and i have only 2 choices

    Choice 1:-
    On Day 2 i am visiting local leh only which i can skip

    Can you please guide is it possible to return from Tso-moriri in single day if we start early from leh

    Choice 2:-
    Is there any possibility from nubra or pangong after night stay at each place….i can leave early morning from nubra or pangong and go towards Tso-moriri….and in the same day i returned to Leh…..

    Pangong to Tso moriri to Leh in single day

    nubra to Tso moriri to leh in single day

    Thanks i will wait for your reply
    my mail id is :- jindal.sushil@gmail.com

    1. Khyati Popat

      Hi Sushil, Can you please forward me the reply that you might have got from Sandeepa?
      I am having same question as of you and want to know some suggestions.
      My email address is khyati.be.it@gmail.com
      Thanks in advance.
      Awaiting for your reply.

  13. Gargi Shah

    very well captured & described. Amazing!!! i am planning to go in july. if i have to select between pangong n tso moriri. which one shd i do? Thanx for sharing your experience so beautifully.

    1. Sandeepa Chetan Post author

      Hello Gargi, no first hand experience with Pangong. But from what we know, both Tso Moriri and Pangong Tso are excellent choices. If you decide to go totally offbeat, there is a route that will let you go to one from the other! Happy travels! Ladakh is stunning beyond words!

  14. Rajesh Reddy

    When is the best time to go this place…? My friend and I were planning to go to leh and Ladakh for a week long trip from Bangalore. is that sufficient enough to visit major attractions of both place..? Now if we have to combine Tso morri and drass/Kargil how long will it take..? what will be our cheapest mode of transport, place to stay? are there any permissions that we need to take ? please advise.

    1. Sandeepa Chetan Post author

      Hello Rajesh, thank you for writing to us and wish you an awesome trip to Ladakh! A quick google search will answer all your questions regarding your travel to Ladakh. Assuming you flying into Leh, and considering the time you need to spend for acclimatisation, you can visit either Tso Moriri or Pangong. If you take the NH1 and come to Leh by road from Srinagar, Drass, Kargil and Lamayuru will be on your way. You can have a look at the map for a clearer picture. The cheapest way to travel is by public transport (shared taxis might be more suitable for you, though!). Cheapest places to stay would be homestays.

  15. gigi

    Lovely pics! So after 8 hrs is 1 night stay OK or need to make it 2? The problem is local bus transport only goes 3 days a montth and drops u on a day and collects the next day.

    1. Sandeepa Chetan Post author

      As long as you get one sunset and one sunrise, it should be okay. Even when you hire a cab, this is pretty much the time that you get. Of course, if you have the luxury of time, you can stay an entire week, until the next bus comes along! We can assure you, Tso Moriri will not feel enough even after a week 🙂

  16. Prashant

    Hey, do you get transport from korzog to leh? Me with a friend trekking to Karaoke from Kazakhstan and figuring out how to reach leh.

  17. navin

    are self driven cars (not self owned), we have rented from Zoomcars, allowed to be driven around Nubra, pangong, moriri etc?

  18. sunetra

    Hello,

    Really loved your writing as well as d awesome pictures.
    I would like to know about the transport facilities from LEH to Tso Moriri…as we are in a dilemma whether to visit Tso Moriri or not?
    None of the webites or Google searches could give us a definite answer on this.\
    also could you advise what are the charges and whether sharing taxis or busses are available or not.

    Would be of real help if you could enlighten us on the same.

    Thanks for sharing your experience!!

    1. Chetan Karkhanis

      Public transportation is very rare in Ladakh. The most common way to travel from Leh to Tso Moriri is to hire a jeep from Leh. If you are not enough people to fill in one jeep, you can easily find more travellers to share costs. The distance from Leh makes Tso Moriri a difficult place to visit, but that also means less crowds! Happy travels!

  19. Lynn Esposito

    Inspiring photos and wonderful commentary spoken from the heart.
    Touches the wanderlust in me.
    Thanks for sharing your journey.