Tso Moriri – Everything You Should Know
Also known as the Mountain Lake, Tso Moriri is one of the two most popular lakes in the Ladakh region
of the northern Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. While Pangong Tso is the more popular out of the two, it’s Tso Moriri which manages to take the breath away of the visitors with its tranquil beauty.
Located at an altitude of a whopping 4595 metres above the sea level, Tso Moriri is a calm and serene high altitude lake in Changtang Wildlife Sanctuary
. It runs up to 28 km in length and is 100 feet deep on average. Since it is located in a wetland reserve, you cannot pitch your tent in the area but can choose an accommodation in the camps around Tso Moriri lake
, giving you a mesmerising view of the lake.
While the reflection of snow-clad mountains immersed in the pristine waters of the lake calm your soul, the exotic migratory birds flying above the majestic lake will make you fall in love with nature. The lake is surrounded by high mountains, making it a hidden gem in the cold desert land of Ladakh. It is an ideal travel destination for an offbeat traveller as well as those who wish to explore the untouched beauty of Ladakh
Witness the changing hues of the lake and fall in love with nature all over again with a trip to Tso Moriri. Pack your bags, pick up your camera and set off on your trip to Leh Ladakh
to live and capture the frames of a lifetime.
Best Time to Visit Tso Moriri:
Tso Moriri is located in the Changtang region of Jammu and Kashmir, which experiences freezing temperatures during the winter months. While the lake remains frozen between the months of November and April, the summer months are the best time to visit Tso Moriri to enjoy the beauty at its peak which is also the best time to visit Ladakh.
Altitude of Tso Moriri: Perched atop a whopping height of 4595 metres (15,075 feet) above the sea level, Tso Moriri is a high-altitude lake located in the northern Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir.
Distance from Leh to Tso Moriri:
The distance between high-altitude Tso Moriri and Leh town
is approximately 220 km, and the drive will take at least five hours in normal conditions.
Permits required to visit Tso Moriri: Since April 2017, the Indian government has made it mandatory for visitors (non-residents of Jammu and Kashmir) to procure Inner Line Permit for Leh Ladakh to visit the protected areas. The Inner Line permit can be obtained online by visiting http://lahdclehpermit.in/ and visiting the “Issue” option, followed by “Domestic client” option on the website. The permit fee is INR 400 (environmental fees) per person, with an additional INR 20 as Inner Line fee.
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How to Reach From Leh
Route 1: Leh to Tso Moriri via Chumathang
The greatest reason the popularity of this route is owed to is its length. This is the shortest route to cover the journey between Leh and Tso Moriri. The total length of the route is somewhere between 220 km to 240 km. Since the road is in good condition, the journey can be covered in a duration of 6 to 7 hours. However, if you take too many halts for the sake of landscape photography, it may take longer than that.
After starting your journey on Manali – Leh Highway, you can take your first halt at Upshi and relish on some snacks as the next place where food is available is away in Karzok. At the bifurcation at Upshi Market, take the left turn towards Mahe. Once you reach Mahe, head towards Karzok. Before reaching Karzok, you will come across some great vantage points, apt for landscape photography. A halt at Kiagar Tso is recommended as most travellers prefer to take a halt here. Resume your journey and soon you will come across another bifurcation. Do not take the tar road, rather keep going straight because that is the way to Karzok. That is where Tso Moriri is located.
The route map is given below:
Leh – Shey – Karu – Upshi – Kumdok – Kere – Chumathang – Mahe – Sumdo – Namashang La – Karzok
Route 2: Leh to Tso Moriri via Tso Kar and More Plains
If you opt for this route to reach Tso Moriri from Leh, you will have to cover some extra miles. The total distance of the route is approximately 260 km. The journey normally takes somewhere between 7 to 8 hours. But again, the duration of the journey depends upon how many halts you take and how long they are. Moreover, there is a probability that the condition of the road will be worse too.
However, the route is quite scenic with open landscapes and views of mighty Himalayan peaks covered in snow, so you will not regret taking this route. This route also lets you see Tso Kar. The initial part of the route is the same as the Route 1 mentioned above. From there, you do not have to take the turn that leads to Chumathang, rather head towards Rumtse on Manali – Leh highway
. After you leave Rumtse behind, the ascent to Tanglang La starts. Then you will proceed towards Debring. You can take a short halt here to rest and to click some photographs, however, there is not much for a shelter.
As you ride further on your road trip to Leh – Manali
Highway, you will see a road diverting to left. If you are hungry or in a need for some refreshment, there are a few options in the form of roadside dhabas here. Exit the Leh – Manali Highway here by taking the left road. The first lake that you will come across on this route is approximately 22 km ahead of this diversion.
The route map is given below:
Leh – Shey – Karu – Upshi – Rumtse – Tanglang La – Debring – Tso Kar – Polo Kongka La – Puga – Sumdo – Namashang La – Karzok
Route 3: Leh to Tso Moriri via Pangong Tso and Chushul
If you are looking for some serious adventure, you may take this road. The route takes you to remote regions with hardly any travellers or locals in sight. Owing to the scenic vistas one gets to witness while travelling on this route including the renowned Pangong Tso
, it is considered as one of the best routes to reach the breathtakingly beautiful lake, Tso Moriri despite being the road least travelled. The round journey that starts from Leh and takes you to Tso Moriri via Pangong Tso and ends at Leh may be 650 to 700 km. The distance between Leh to Pangong Tso
is almost 160 km.
There are various routes to cover this journey. The first stretch of the journey will take you to Pangong Tso from Leh. After Pangong Tso, you are supposed to head towards Chushul, which is a small village located on the border area. The distance between Spangmik to Chushul is almost 50 km, and since there is no metalled road, you will have to ride on a dirt track. You will have to produce your permits at Merak en route Chushul.
Proceed towards Mahe located at a distance of 77 km from Chushul. You can take a halt here and then ride towards Karzok covering Sumdo and Namashang La en route. The distance between Mahe and Karzok is approximately 63 km.
A few things are to be kept in mind before taking the trip. Firstly, the route is only open for Indians. So, if you are a foreign national, you cannot take this journey without a Protected Area Permit. Secondly, there are no fuel stations for long distances, so make sure you have plenty of spare fuel with you before you embark on the journey.
The route map is given below:
Leh – Sakti – Chang La – Tangtse – Spangmik (Pangong Tso) – Man – Merak – Chushul – Tsaga La – Tsaga Village – Loma – Nyoma – Mahe – Sumdo – Karzok (Tso Moriri)
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Places to Visit and Things to Do in Tso Moriri
Tso Moriri Lake View Point
Enjoy the panoramic view of the majestic Tso Moriri from the viewing point near the lake. Witness the changing colours of the lake waters as beams of sunlight fall on the lake, creating a colourful canvas of nature in the pristine lake waters. The reflection of the mountains surrounding the lake add to the glory of the lake, the view of which is unmissable!
Tso Moriri Wetland Conservation Reserve
The Tso Moriri is sacred to locals. Realising the importance to protect and conserve the delicate ecosystem at the place, the lake has been identified as a wetland conservation reserve. Apart from taking initiatives to preserve nature, the reserve also has an information centre for the visitors to collect useful information and conduct educational programmes for the locals.
Located on the northwestern bank of Tso Moriri, the Tibetan-Buddhist Korzok Monastery is a must-visit tourist attraction on your visit to the lake. The monastery was founded kunga Lodro Ningpo some 300 years ago. Allow yourself a serene and spiritual experience at the Korzok Monastery as it overlooks the lake with changing hues.
Bird-watching at Tso Moriri will make you fall in love with the wildlife as exotic, migratory birds like bar-headed goose Anser, Great crested Grebe P. Cristatus and black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis. Revive the nature lover and wildlife photographer in you by bird-watching at Tso Moriri.
While bird-watching will excite bird lovers, there is a lot in store for wildlife enthusiasts too! Set off on a journey to spot blue sheep, foxes, woolly hare, pikas and weasel amongst others during your excursions.
Here is our guide of the best places to visit and things to do in Ladakh
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Hotels Around Tso Moriri
1. Tso Moriri Lake View
The Tso Moriri Lake View offers unparalleled views of the lake from the hotel rooms. The 26 rooms in Tso Moriri Lake View are well furnished and have attached bathrooms with hot and cold water and facilities like laundry. The hotel also has a multi-cuisine in-house restaurant for you to enjoy delicious food on your trip to Leh Ladakh.
2. Hotel Padma
Your stay at Hotel Padma is will make you fall in love with the place. After a tiring excursion all day, return to enjoy a filling meal in the multi-cuisine restaurant at Hotel Padma. Relish a comfortable stay in the well-furnished rooms, which are complemented by facilities like a library, doctor on call, internet facilities and more in
3. Greenland Hotel
Located on Changspa Road, the Greenland Guest House, the Greenland Guest House offers facilities like free WiFi, attached bathrooms with hot/cold running water, laundry service, doctor on call, parking and taxi on call amongst many others. This budget property is located at 5 km Leh Airport. With spacious rooms, Greenland Guest House is the ideal accommodation on your visit to Tso Moriri.
4. Hotel Bimla
If you are looking for an accommodation near Tso Moriri that characterises a perfect combination of comfort and budget, Hotel Bimla is among the most recommended hotels. Located in Agling Village on Boulevard Road, this hotel is known for the cosy rooms and homely meals that can be availed here.
5. Hotel Khayul
Offering all basic amenities to make your visit to Tso Moriri pleasant and memorable, Hotel Khayul is an excellent stay option for all kinds of travellers. Spacious rooms with heating system and food that will please your taste buds – this hotel located in Chilung is among the top options in the region.
For the most comfortable and relaxing stay, you can also check out these hotels in Ladakh.
Camps in Tso Moriri
Nomadic Life Camp
Offering the best of adventure and nature while keeping you close to the scenic Tso Moriri, Nomadic Life Camp is among the most sought after camps available near the lake. Spacious tents with bathrooms and medical facilities are available at reasonable prices, ensuring you have a comfortable stay.
Tsomoriri Camps and Resorts
Getting yourself a tent at Tso Moriri Camps and Resorts is probably the best way to enjoy the spellbinding charm of Tso Moriri. Located in Changthang area, these camps give the best of comfort while keeping the guests connected with nature. Whether you like astrophotography or you want to enjoy a bonfire session, this is where you get to do it all,
Golden Mark Camps
Soak in the divine beauty of the towering mountains standing behind the azure waters of Tso Moriri by spending the most happening part of your trip to Leh Ladakh at Golden Mark Camps. From airy tents with all basic amenities to fresh cooked delicious meals, a stay at the camp will become a memorable experience for you.
Located in the scenic realm of Karzok, Norling Camp is among the best options for camping near Tso Moriri. Whether you are travelling in a group or you are travelling solo, the camp is suitable for all guests owing to customisable facilities. The scenic beauty that surrounds the camp is truly breathless.
Yak Camp Tsomoriri
Nothing can amuse you on your visit to Tso Moriri more than a stay experience at Yak Camp, located close to the lake. It is one of the most recommended camping options where all modern facilities are available at tariffs that are even low enough for budget travellers.
Also, check out our well-curated list of camps in Ladakh
for an amazing camping experience.
Other Essential Info
There is no mobile connectivity at Tso Moriri. The nearest mobile connectivity is available at Chumathang, which is located at a distance of 70 km from Tso Moriri. Enjoy your visit to the lake without getting interrupted by mobile phone notifications and immerse in its enchanting beauty.
Tso moriri is a high altitude lake, and you must prepare yourself well to acclimatise with the thin air up there. While the nearest place with medical facilities/health centre will be an available Korzok Village, you may get the basic oxygen cylinders at the camps and hotels nearby the lake.
You will not find any ATM near Tso Moriri lake. The wisest thing to do is to carry cash because there is no internet connectivity too at Tso Moriri, disabling you the benefits of internet banking.
The nearest petrol pump from Tso Moriri is at Karu, which is located at a distance of 24 km. It is advisable to get your vehicle fuelled from Leh. In case you're exiting from Leh Manali Highway, you must ensure you have enough fuel to reach Tandi.
The food joints and stalls are available in Korzok Village. However, you may also get food and authentic local cuisine at the camp and homestay you may choose near Tso Moriri for your accommodation.
Minimum duration for visiting Tso moriri
If you are visiting Tso Moriri, it is best you reach there before evening and spend your night in one of the camps. While the nights are pitch dark, wake up to witness a beautiful sunrise the next morning and click pictures as the lake changes its hues.
Frequently Asked Questions
1) How do I get to Tso Moriri?
Tso Moriri is a high-altitude lake located in Leh region of Jammu and Kashmir. You can easily take a road trip to Ladakh
or a flight to Leh and drive to Tso Moriri, which is at a distance of 220 km from Leh. Vehicles on rent and cabs are also available in Leh.
2) Should I halt for a night near Tso Moriri?
Being a wildlife reserve area, you cannot pitch your own tent near the lake. However, you can always book a camp/hotel opposite the lake for a night stay. Enjoy the morning views of the lake and wake up to a beautiful sunrise as nature displays its best hues in the morning.
3) What are the other names for Tso Moriri?
Tso Moriri is a sacred lake for locals. It is also known as Lake Moriri or Mountain Lake by locals as well as visitors thronging the place.
4) Who protects the lake and the surrounding areas?
The Tso Moriri and its surrounding regions have been declared as a wetland conservation reserve. The State Department of Wildlife has, besides setting up a check-post near Mahe Bridge, taken initiatives to educate the locals on the conservation and set up an information desk for the tourists. While it is illegal to shoot the wildlife here, one also needs an Inner Line Permit to visit the lake.
5) How high is the Tso Moriri Lake?
Tso Moriri is a high-altitude lake in the Rupshu district of Jammu and Kashmir. The lake is situated at an altitude of a whopping 4595 (over 15000 feet), surrounded by high mountains on all its sides.
6) What is the colour of Tso Moriri?
The water in the lake is crystal clear, allowing it to embrace the colour of the sky and the background. While the lake waters change its hues with the changing colours of the sky, the lake also reflects the imagery of the mountains in the background which surround the lake on all sides, making it majestic sight.
7) What are the activities to do near Tso Moriri?
The Tso Moriri is a high altitude lake, and photography lovers will have the frames of their lifetime as they click the majestic lake with the firm mountains in the background. There is a lot in store for wildlife enthusiasts too as the lake is a breeding ground for migratory birds. Book your date with exotic wildlife and feel close to nature by visiting Tso Moriri.
8) What are the other attractions near Tso Moriri?
On your visit to Tso Moriri, visit nearby attractions like Tso Moriri viewpoint for the best view of the lake, Tso Moriri wetland reserve, Korzok Monastery which is located in Korzok Village and Tsokar Lake, which is located at a distance of 85 km.
9) Should I skip Tso Moriri if I am visiting Pangong Tso?
It depends on the time you have at your hand and your preferences as a traveller. While the Pangong Tso is more popular and visited a lot by tourists, the Tso Moriri is a remote lake which is less visited, serene and calm owing to its location. If you are an offbeat traveller and would like to set off on a journey of self-discovery far from people, a visit to the lake is a must.