Tso Moriri Lake – The Legend of Tsomo

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Do any of you know what is the antonym of Midas touch? Do tell me because that is the salient feature of humans, and being a human I should know that. Recently, my attention was stolen by an article which declared about the first crime committed in space. My first thought was, can we humans spare something from our malice? Wherever we go, we leave traces of our presence there and the hero of today’s blogpost TSO Moriri lake is no exception from that. Yet, the lake is like the sublime illusion of heaven. I wonder what it would have been like in its 35 years of restriction period and even before that when reaching the peak was very difficult. Ladakh has many gems hidden in its veil and Tso Moriri Lake is one of them. So, let’s set on the journey of Tso Moriri Lake and know the legend of Tsomo.

Tso Moriri Lake - The Legend of Tsomo - Leh Ladakh - Tso Moriri Lake Index
Tso Moriri Lake, the best gift bequeathed to Human eyesImage Source
Don’t be a Gama in Land of Lama

Last time when I visited Ladakh with my friends, the quench of solace couldn’t satiate. Though we together visited many of the places like the famous Pangong Lake, magnetic hill and Nyarma University, something was incomplete. This time when I did a solo trip to Ladakh, the mystics unfolded. Maybe the first time we tried being a Gama and were all set to explore as we landed, this time I played as the boards in Ladakh highly recommend, ‘Don’t be a Gama in Land of Lama.’ I don’t know why I didn’t see this board last time, although this message seems just everywhere. Maybe that is the reason I missed Tso Moriri Lake the first time. Though the lake is as beautiful as Pangong Tso Lake, still people miss it, as we did it.

However, for the sublime experience at Tso Moriri lake, I advise that you shun the Gama in you, till your body adapts to the environment or the high altitude sickness will spoil it all. #JSYK Gama was a mountaineer who got lost in the mountains as he ignored the terrain in his overconfidence.

Tso Moriri Lake - The Legend of Tsomo - Leh Ladakh - Tibetan Flag View
Where the clouds in the heaven stop to admire – Tso Moriri Lake Image Source
The beautiful Tso Moriri Lake

Around 225 Kilometers from Leh, Tso Moriri lake, is located on Indian part of Changthang plateau. Some people call it Mountain Lake and some as Moriri Lake but for me, it is the best gift bequeathed to Human eyes. At an altitude of 4,522 meters, 14836 feet, Tso Moriri is one of the largest high altitude lakes in India. It spreads in length of around 25 kilometres, though to the naked eyes, the serene alchemy of sea green and blue, extends like forever. The picture-perfect scenery with snowcapped mountains as the backdrop can entice you for hours. The best part is that if you choose to stay in any homestay or guest house of Karzok village which lies on the northwestern banks of Tso Moriri lake, you can absorb the divine look all day long. After all, staying in the highest village of India at an altitude of 15,075 feet has its own adventure.

Legend of Tso Moriri Lake

When I first heard the name of Tso Moriri, it was hard for me to pronounce it to my driver. But then, on the way, he told me that it is not the original name of the lake. I asked, “Then what is the original name?” He adds, “That I don’t know but there is a legend about how it was named Tso Moriri which I know.” He tells, “Many decades ago, there was a girl named Tsomo of Karzok Village. She took care of her family’s herd which included Yaks and Goats. One day during winters, her father’s favourite Yak escaped from the shelter and ran over the frozen lake. Tsomo ran after it. Though she was afraid of stepping on the frozen lake, her father’s anger made her even more anxious. So she stepped in and called her Yak, Ri.. Ri.. Ri..(The way Ladakhi call their cattle)

But her Yak didn’t respond and she stepped further, calling Ri..Ri.. again. The Yak hearing her voice ran towards her and the ice on the lake broke. Both Yak and Tsomo were gulped in and they never returned. From then, in her memory, the lake is called Tso Moriri.

Tso Moriri Lake - The Legend of Tsomo - Leh Ladakh - Village View
Karzok, the highest village in India on the banks of Tso Moriri Image Source
History Tso Moriri Lake

Like Pangong Tso Lake, Tso Moriri Lake is also endorheic. However, history suggests that it was not always a lake which did not have any exit point. Thus, Tso Moriri lake which is assumed to be freshwater lake is a bit brackish in taste. Currently, the lake gets all its waters from two streams which flow down from mountains as the snow melts. But talking of legends, it is not only the melting snow that feeds Tso Moriri lake but waters of Tso Kar lake has also increased the levels of Tso Moriri.

The people of Thukje Village which is near Tso Kar lake believe that playing a prank with them, Yamraj once drank all the water of Tso Kar lake. But since he was getting naughty, he couldn’t control his laugh and some water fell back to the lake which is the present lake. He then progressed towards Tso Moriri lake, and from atop seeing such meagre amount of water in the lake, he laughed again and water flew out of his nostrils forming Tso Kiagar lake but he controlled himself. Then as he reached Tso Moriri lake he dumped all the water there.

Tso Moriri Lake - The Legend of Tsomo - Leh Ladakh - Village Stupa View
A still from the monastery stupa of Karzok Village – Image Source
Reaching Tso Moriri Lake

Tso Moriri Lake can be reached via different routes, though, you need inner line permit to visit the lake. Either you may take the shortest route through Chumathang Valley or if you are the one who is bewitched by the plains then you can choose the route crossing Tanglang La. Through the second route, you can also visit Tso Kar lake and Tso Kiagar lake which falls on the way. Or if you select to cover both Pangong Tso and Tso Moriri lakes then take the route via Pangong Lake and Changthang Valley which is the longest but getting blessed by the heavenly sight is worth many kilometres. And when in winters the lake freezes and other ways become inaccessible, you can reach Tso Moriri lake via Karzok VIllage in Rupshu Valley.

A serene lake with protected wetlands is not all that describes Tso Moriri. It is also known for rare bird species sightings and a 300-year-old monastery in Karzok. What more can one opt for? Just don’t add any luxuries to the list as it will only pollute the beautiful setting of Tso Moriri lake. Lakes like Pangong and Chandratal are a memorable experience but don’t leave your trash there and let the enticement power the souls’ forever. And before you set on a trip to Tso Moriri Lake, do keep a diary or your mobile notes handy as the name of the places are quite difficult to remember.

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