Ladakh (“land of high passes”) is a region in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir that currently extends from the Siachen Glacier in the Karakoram range to the main Great Himalayas to the south, inhabited by people of Indo-Aryan and Tibetan descent. It is one of the most sparsely populated regions in Jammu and Kashmir and its culture and history are closely related to that of Tibet. Ladakh is renowned for its remote mountain beauty and culture.
Historically, the region included the Baltistan (Baltiyul) valleys (now mostly in Pakistan), the entire upper Indus Valley, the remote Zanskar, Lahaul and Spiti to the south, much of Ngari including the Rudok region and Guge in the east, Aksai Chin in the northeast (extending to the Kun Lun Mountains), and the Nubra Valley to the north over Khardong La in the Ladakh Range. Contemporary Ladakh borders Tibet to the east, the Lahaul and Spiti regions to the south, the Vale of Kashmir, Jammu and Baltiyulregions to the west, and the southwest corner of Xinjiang across the Karakoram Pass in the far north.
Aksai Chin is one of the disputed border areas between China and India. It is administered by China as part of Hotan County but is also claimed by India as a part of the Ladakh region of the state of Jammu and Kashmir. In 1962, China and India fought a brief war over Aksai Chin and Arunachal Pradesh, but in 1993 and 1996 the two countries signed agreements to respect the Line of Actual Control.
In the past Ladakh gained importance from its strategic location at the crossroads of important trade routes, but since the Chinese authorities closed the borders with Tibet and Central Asia in the 1960s, international trade has dwindled except for tourism. Since 1974, the Government of India has successfully encouraged tourism in Ladakh. Since Ladakh is a part of strategically important Jammu and Kashmir, the Indian military maintains a strong presence in the region.
Alchi, a small village situated on low land, is about 70 km to the west of Leh district and is located on the banks of the River Indus. Alchi village is very fertile and it is all green with apricot trees on both side of road. This region had influence of Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism because it falls on the route to Turkestan of China but its isolation helped the village and gompas to keep their cultural traditions safe from the outer influences.
The Alchi village is famous for the existence of one of the oldest monasteries in Ladakh known as Alchi Monastery, which is Ladakh’s most valuable heritage. Alchi monastery is a Buddhist worshipping place and study center and is managed by the monks of Likir. The monastery was built, according to local tradition, by the great translator Guru Rinchen Zangpo between 958AD and 1055AD. The building is said to have been built during the 11th century and the architecture of the place is also excellent.
In Alchi, one can visit the Sumtsek Temple, Vairocana Temple, Lo Tsawa Temple, Manjushree Temple, Kangyur Temple with Stupas, Monk Cells etc. Beautiful wood carving arts, huge Tibetan Styled models of Buddha, Manjushree, historic wall paintings of Buddha’s teachings within a very calm, quite, pristine ambiance made Alchi more valuable. There are five shrines in the Choskor temple complex which has some splendid wall paintings. One of its walls features thousands of miniature sized pictures of the Buddha. It is a perfect place to relax and experience the quintessential Buddhist monastery.
Lamayuru is located Leh district, this is the famous Buddhist monastery at a height of 11520 ft. This splendid monastery is considered as one of the fascinating places that one must visit. If you are planning to visit Ladakh then you must enlist this place in your wish list as this monastery is said to be the oldest as well as the largest in Ladakh. Lamayuru monastery is a place where many legends were associated with. In the earlier days, this huge construction was a collection of five gigantic building out of which only one survives now. But still, this remains the largest monastery and houses near about 150 Buddhist monks permanently, in earlier days the number was 400.
This wonderful ancient structure is located on Srinagar-Leh highway. During the winter season at daytime, the weather is considered warm if the temperature is not at minus but at night the temperature plummets to minus 20 degrees. The area of the monastery is still very large even though only a small portion of the Lamayuru monastery remains alive. The travelers to this Buddhist monastery can only access the prayer hall which is only the key part of the whole monastery. This place has a unique appeal. From the monastery, tourists can experience the barren mountains along with the scenes of normal village life below.
Things to do in Lamayuru Monastery
Are you planning to visit Lamayuru monastery? Then do not forget to experience a small walk through the village apart from the monastery. The habitats at Ladakh are extremely generous and warm. If you apply the universal ladakhi greeting Juley along with a big smile they would easily open up to you. The people there are so cordial that some might invite at their stay to have a cup of tea. Else tourists who love adventure can try hiking on these amazing mountains. Do not worry, hiking is not a big deal, even during the hiking you can capture some excellent frames.
Lamayuru is also very well-known for YuruKabgyat which is a two-day cultural festival. This worth visiting festival takes place in the second month of the Tibetan Lunar Calendar. This festival is also called the mask festival as the monks were different mask during the ceremony.
How to Reach Lamayuru Monastery
The best and the earliest way to reach Lamayuru especially if you are traveling in the winter season is by hiring a cab from Leh. This is because during the winter season the buses do not ply on the highway on a regular basis. But in summer you are advised to board local buses as then the journey would be more fun and pocket-friendly. The drive to Lamayuru is an excellent journey. As you leave Leh the landscape start changing. However all that can be seen are dry and arid, only a few patches of green land can be found. During the journey, if you are lucky there are chances to experience wildlife animals. It would be better if you start your journey to Lamayuru in the early morning so that you can back safely before anafternoon in the Leh city.
Best Time to Visit Lamayuru Monastery
If you are planning to visit this monastery then you are advised to book your tickets for the months from April to June. During these months the weather remains quite warm and comfortable. It would be wise to avoid visiting this tourist attraction during the winter season as then there are chances that the weather would be too cold for the tourists to move around.
Thiksay Gompa, Thiksey Monastery or Thiksay monastery is a gompa of Tibetan Buddhism religion. It is located on the top of the hill. It is very famous for its similarity with Potala Palace of Lhasa. This monastery is famous for pilgrim activities, architectural elements, sightseeing and exploration. The monastery has an interesting anecdote of how it was built in this exact location. It is said that when two Buddhist monks offered prayers and rituals at the Yellow Temple and were about to through a cake (offering to God) into the valley, a crow took away the cake and place it on a hilltop. They assumed this a divine order and built a monastery here.
How to Reach Thiksey Monastery-
The Thiksey Monastery is located on top of hill of 3,600 m altitude in Thiksey village. This village is located on the Leh-Manali highway in Jammu and Kashmir. The village lies 18 km to the south of Leh. Leh has a domestic airport, which is the highest airport in the country. The frequency of flights to Leh from other parts of the country is very less. Tourists usually reach India via Delhi or Srinagar airport and choose any land transportation to reach Leh. You can either hire cab to reach Thikse monastery or choose bus. The bus to the monastery starts at 9 in the morning. The bus tour includes many attractions including the monastery and thus, the time limited for exploring the monastery will be less. If you are planning to enjoy the monastery completely, it is better to visit in a car.
Best Time to Visit Thiksey Monastery-
The monastery is open to tourists from 7 in the morning to 7 in the evening throughout the week. October and November is the best months to visit the monastery. After November, the place will be closed due to snowfall and it opens by May. After November, the routes to the monastery will be blocked by snow and it becomes dangerous to visit. If you visit during early morning, you can enjoy many unique rituals. Numerous people visit the monastery by 6:00 in the morning to take part in the morning prayers with delicious hot local tea served by the monk.
Entry Fee of Thiksey Monastery-
The entry cost is 20 INR for both locals and foreigners. There is no fee for camera. It would take around 2-3 hours to scale the whole place.
Places to Visit in Thiksey-
The monastery holds ten temples, home for monks, assembly hall, nunnery and others. The monastery has 12 levels. It is one of the largest structures in Ladakh. As you enter the monastery, you can find the statue of the protector deity in the entrance. From the monastery, you can enjoy a beautiful view of the flood plains of Indus valley.
This is one of the important attractions inside the monastery. It is a large statue, which is two storey tall. This is the largest statue in Ladakh.
The Assembly hall entrance has a wall that has murals of Tibetan calendar. The prayer room next to this wall has many books and manuscripts. Beyond the prayer room, there is a small sanctum. Apart from these, the assembly hall has many pictures, statues and murals.
This is a small temple dedicated to the Goddess. There are 21 images of the deity in this shrine. You can find many murals here.
This temple holds many scriptures including Stangyur and Kangyur. Women are not allowed inside this temple. There is a small school on top of the temple where young boys are taught to become Lamas. You can find a large pillar with Buddha’s teachings engraved on it. Beyond the temple, you can find numerous white huts, the residence of Lamas.
This is the school for nuns.
Festival of Thiksey Monastery-
Festivals takes place either in November or in October. The festival spans for two days. During this festival, after the morning prayers, the celebrations begin. A sacrificial cake is distributed during this festival. Top attraction of this festival is the mask dance, which is performed by the monks. It is said that the masked dance wade off the evil. The Black Hat dance is performed to re-enact the assignation of Lang Dar Ma by a monk. The exact date of the festival changes every year with respect to the Tibetan calendar. During this festival, a fair takes place at the monastery’s base. This fair is the best place to buy souvenirs and socialize with people.
What to Eat in Thiksey-
The monastery offers dinner at 6:30 pm. You can join the monks to enjoy the simple dinner. You have to pick a bowl and stand in a queue to receive thukpa, a noodle soup with many vegetables. You can also get butter tea here. If you are dining in the monastery, you are requested to clean your dishes.
Spituk is yet another interesting monastery, on the hill top near Indus about 18 kms. from Leh on Srinagar road. The Spituk monastery offers a commanding view of Indus. It has a totally new Gompa within the monastery as well as the old Gompa has also been restored meanwhile. It is constructed in a series of tiers with courtyards and steps. Higher up in the hill is a chamber which houses the enormous statue of goddess. Its face is covered and uncovered only once in a year during the festival time.
The Spituk Gompa was founded in 11th century by Od-De, the elder brother of Lha Lama Changchub-od. The Gompa was named Spituk (exemplary) by Rinchen Zangpo, a translator came to that place and said that exemplary religious community would rise. Initially the Gompa was run according to the Kadampa school then during the reign of king Gragspa Bumide he converted it to Gayluk Pa order. Many icons of Buddha and 5 thangkas can be visited in this 15th century monastery. The Dukhang Hall is the largest building and has two rows of seats running the length of the walls to a throne at the far end. Sculptures and miniature chortens are displayed on the altar. There is also a collection of ancient masks, antique arms and fine thangkas. Higher up the hill is the Mahakal Temple, containing the shrine of Vajrabhairava. The terrifying face of Vajrabhairva is unveiled only at the annual festival in January.
Every year, on the 17th and 19th day of the 11th of the Bodhi month, the Gelukpa order of monks celebrate the Spituk festival known as Gustor. During the festival, the lamas wear the masks of religious deities and perform the dances, which is normally about good and evil and mythological stories related to the Buddhism.
Shanti Stupa was built in 1991 by Japanese Buddhist Bhikshu, Gyomyo Nakamura as a part of the Peace Pagoda mission. The stupa is a symbol of the ties between the people of Japan and Ladakh. Within the stupa, there are relics of the Buddha, enshrined by the 14th Dalai Lama. The stupa is spread over two levels. First level has Buddha idol, and second features relics depicting the “birth” of Buddha, the death of Buddha (mahanirvana) and Buddha “defeating the devils” while meditating.
Located at an altitude of 3,609 metres (11,841 ft), Shanti Stupa can be reached by car or by climbing a series of 500 steep steps to the hilltop. Closest landmark to the Shantii Stupa is Leh Palace.
05:00 AM to 09:00 PM, Open all days
Things to Do and See in and around
One can also visit the Leh Palace, which is quite close to the Shanti Stupa. Don’t forget to click some amazing pictures against the backdrop of the stupa. From here, the view of Leh is extremely beautiful. Tourists can also consider visiting the market nearby the Shanti Stupa to pick some local handicrafts.
Best time to visit
June to September will be the best times to plan a trip to the Shanti Stupa as the roads are clear. The day remains warm and sunny with a sudden dip in temperatures towards the evening.
Khardung La Pass placed there name in the eleventh number on the list is the falsely claimed highest motorable pass in the world named, situated in Ladakh, India at an altitude of 5,359 Mtrs or 17,582 Feet.
Thousands of tourists travel every year to this mountain pass and I assume that it may be one of the most clicked passes in the world for sure with maybe thousands of photographs produced every year by tourists over the Internet who visit Ladakh. Almost, everyone who visits Ladakh, do visit Khardung La pass and get a picture clicked up there with its signboard.
Almost all kinds of bikes or cars have traveled up there as the ascend to it is not that treacherous as compared to some other even less altitude passes. Do not miss a black tea or tomato soup up there at the Canteen similar to Chang La. You can also get some souvenirs of world’s highest motorable road too from the shop up there at Khardung La.
I want to clear some confusion on World Highest Motorable Pass. As per latest news there is some changes in the list on that. The top 13 passes are follows-
1. Umling La or Umlingla Pass – 5,883 Mtrs or 19,300 Feet
2. Road to Uturuncu – 5,777 Mtrs or 18,953 Feet
3. A Road uphill Mana Pass or Dungri La – 5,610 Mtrs or 18,406 Feet
4. Marsimek La or Marsimik La – 5,582 Mtrs or 18,313 Feet
5. Semo La – 5,565 Mtrs or 18,258 Feet
6. Photi La – 5,524 Mtrs or 18,124 Feet
7. Dongkha La or Donkia La Pass – 5,486 Mtrs or 17,999 Feet
8. Kaksang La – 5,438 Mtrs or 17,841 Feet
9. Suge La – 5,430 Mtrs or 17,815 Feet
10. Chang La – 5,360 Mtrs or 17,586 Feet
11. Khardung La – 5,359 Mtrs or 17,582 Feet
12. Taglang La or Tanglang La – 5,328 Mtrs or 17,480 Feet
13. Wari La – 5,312 Mtrs or 17,428 Feet
Maitreya Buddha, the impressive 32 meter tall statue, is visible from a distance as soon as one enters the Diskit Region. Perched atop a hillock, facing the Shyok River towards Pakistan and complementing the surroundings, Maitreya Budhha was constructed in 2006 keeping in mind three objectives – protection of Diskit Village, prevention of further war with Pakistan, and to promote world peace. The statue was inaugurated by H.H Dalai Lama in 2010. The imposing and colourful image, also known as Jampa is mounted on a large hall that has a preserved a huge drum and a collection of statues and Buddhist literature. One can see statues of Shakyamuni Buddha and Guru Rimpoche inside the hall.
In order to reach Diskit and the Maitreya Buddha, one has to book a cab from Leh City. Bikes can also be hired.
Things to Do and See in and around
On the opposite hill of the Maitreya Buddha is the oldest monastery in Nubra Region, Diskit Monastery. One can witness the beautiful thangkas and frescoes here. Another thing to do around Maitreya Buddha is to visit Hunder Village, where there is a cold desert. One can enjoy ride on the double-humped camels here.
Best time to visit
The best time to visit Diskit is in the summer, between the months of June and September. In winters, roads are mostly blocked due to heavy snowfall.
Pangong Lake, situated at a height of almost 4,350m, is the world’s highest saltwater lake. Its waters, which seem to be dyed in blue, stand in stark contrast to the arid mountains surrounding it. Extending to almost 160km, one-third of the Pangong Lake lies in India and the other two-thirds is situated in China.
Pangong Lake, one of the most famous lakes in Leh Ladakh, derives its name from the Tibetan word, “Pangong Tso”, which means “High Grassland Lake”. You could spend hours in contemplation here, and still not have enough of its beauty. Pangong Lake is also known to change colors, appearing blue, green and red at different times. If you have decided to go on a trip to Ladakh anytime soon, don’t forget to visit the Pangong Lake. The beauty which awaits you there cannot be described in words. It has to be seen, felt and absorbed within yourself.
At dawn, get out of your camp and watch the sunrise. Watch, as the rising sun gradually disperses the darkness and ushers in light. Carry a camera with you, and capture these splendid moments.
The route to Pangong Lake is as beautiful as the lake itself. To get a glimpse of this beauty, stop about 10km from Pangong Tso, if you are coming from Leh. You will be greeted by a few signboards saying, “Stop here to see rare endemic species Marmot”. Marmots are large squirrels which are found in mountainous areas and reside in burrows. Despite being quite dodgy, they do come out from their potholes during the day, so there is a good chance of spotting them.
An adventure is all about taking on challenges, and being brave enough to try anything unusual. One of the unusual things to do in Pangong Lake is to take a dip in its cold waters. Usually, tourists leave Pangong Lake after sunrise as they have to reach Leh before sunset. Before doing so, take a dip in the lake. Yes, it sounds crazy, and you would be crazy enough to try it. But craziness is what makes an adventure thrilling and memorable.
Permit and Permission
You must be wondering, what is the permit and permission procedure for visiting Pangong Lake? What documents should I carry with me? We have the answers to your questions.
There are certain areas in Ladakh which are considered inner line (areas close to the border with either China or Pakistan), and Pangong Tso Lake is one them. Therefore, Indians will need to obtain an inner line permit for visiting this place. Foreign nationals visiting this place are required to obtain a protected area permit if they want to travel from Leh to Pangong Lake.
Earlier, obtaining an Inner Line Permit (ILP) was a cumbersome task.
The Indian Astronomical Observatory stands on Mt. Saraswati, Digpa-ratsa Ri, Hanle in south-eastern Ladakh in the eastern Jammu and Kashmir state of India. Accessing the observatory, located near the Chinese border, requires a ten-hour drive from Leh, the district capital of Ladakh.
In the late 1980s a committee chaired by Prof. B. V. Sreekantan recommended that a national large optical telescope be taken up as a priority project. The search for the site of the observatory was taken up in 1992 under the leadership of Prof. Arvind Bhatnagar. The scientists from the Indian Institute of Astrophysics found the site at Hanle.
The first light was seen by the Observatory 2-metre telescope on the midnight hour between 26 September and 27 September 2000.
The satellite link between the Centre for Research and Education in Science and Technology (CREST), Bangalore and Hanle was inaugurated by the then Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Dr. Farooq Abdullah on 2 June 2001. The Observatory was dedicated to the nation on 29 August 2001.
The Hanle site is deemed to be excellent for visible, infrared and submillimeter observations throughout the year. Specifically the observation conditions yield about 255 spectroscopic nights per year, approximately 190 photometric nights per year and an annual rain plus snow precipitation of less than 10 cm. In addition, there are low ambient temperatures, low humidity, low concentration of atmospheric aerosols, low atmospheric water vapour, dark nights and low pollution.
Himalayan Chandra Telescope
The Himalayan Chandra Telescope is a 2.01 meters (6.5 feet) diameter optical-infrared telescope named after India-born Nobel laureate Subrahmanyam Chandrasekhar. It contains a modified Ritchey-Chretien system with a primary mirror made of ULE ceramic which is designed to withstand low temperatures it experiences. The telescope was manufactured by Electo-Optical System Technologies Inc. at Tucson, Arizona, USA. The telescope is mounted with 3 science instruments called Himalaya Faint Object Spectrograph (HFOSC), the near-IR imager and the optical CCD imager. The telescope is remotely operated via an INSAT-3B satellite link which allows operation even in sub-zero temperatures in winter.
High Altitude Gamma Ray Telescope
The High Altitude Gamma Ray Telescope (HAGAR) is an atmospheric Cerenkov experiment with 7 telescopes setup in 2008. Each telescope has 7 mirrors with a total area of 4.4 square meters. The telescopes are deployed on the periphery of a circle of radius 50 meters with one telescope at the center. Each telescope has alt-azimuth mounting.
Center for Research and Educationin Science and Technology
The Center for Research and Education in Science and Technology (CREST) is situated 35 km to the northeast of Bangalore near Hoskote town. The Center houses the control room for the remote operations of the 2m Himalayan Chandra Telescope (HCT) at the Indian Astronomical Observatory, Hanle, and the HCT data archive. The operations are controlled using a remote satellite link.
Tso Moriri Lake in Changthang region of Ladakh is one of the most beautiful, calm and sacred (for ladakhis) high altitude lakes in India. In fact, it is the largest high altitude lake in India that is entirely in Indian territory. This beautiful blue pallet lake is about 7 km wide at its broadest point and about 19 km long.
Being part of the wetland reserve under Ramsar site, it is actually known as Tsomoriri Wetland Conservation Reserve. You cannot pitch any camps near Tso Moriri or construct any stay option near the banks of the lake. It is the highest Ramsar site in the world. The place is full of flora and fauna is found in the region.
Since it is near to the Line of Actual Control, you need to get Inner Line Permit to visit Tso Lake, both as an Indian as well as a foreigner.
The beautiful multi-shades of blues offered by this lake along with a picturesque landscape around gives this place an extremely romantic and breathtaking feel. However, in reality, the place is harsh and difficult to survive especially in winters.
There is only a couple of cemented accommodation available around the lake in the form of homestays and the facilities like electricity, medical aid, hot running water, western toilets etc. are luxury in itself. The lack of oxygen makes survival difficult if your body is not properly acclimatized to its high altitude and hence, one need to plan his/her journey extremely carefully so as to avoid acute mountain sickness. So, even though you might feel tempted to include Tso Moriri in your trip to Leh Ladakh, it is important to plan your trip to this high altitude place properly. This travel guide will help you with it.
Tso Moriri is located about 240 KMs from Leh town of Ladakh district in Jammu & Kashmir. You cannot make a day trip from Leh to Tso Moriri lake as it will be very hectic and not worth it. Hence, you should plan for a two day trip to Tso Moriri from Leh.
Tso Moriri lake is one of the high altitudes lakes of India at a staggering altitude of 4595 Meters or 15075 Feet, yes higher than Pangong Tso.
Best time to visit
In general, the best time to travel to Tso Moriri lake is in the summer months when Ladakh peak season is in full flow.
Similar to what we learned about the best time to travel to Leh Ladakh, in the months of January to March, lake Tso Moriri remains mostly frozen, extremely cold conditions with no options to stay around the lake. Apart from some homestays at Korzok, Chumathang is the next best bet to stay nearby this lake.
In April, the lake starts to melt and starts transforming into the beautiful palette of multi shades of blue colors. Then, May to August is the peak tourist season but as compared to Pangong Tso it gets less number of tourists.
Tso Moriri in September and October
The tourists start to reside as cold starts to set in and accommodation tents pack up which are near to the lake. IMO, this is by far the best time to visit Tso Moriri and see the full glory of beautiful shades of blue color in the lake. The colors are purely magical at this time of the year and with less number of tourist comparatively, you get better deals and enjoy more.
Tso Moriri in winter
After mid-October up to December, all the accommodation packs up and the only nearest place you can stay is either in some homestay with basic facilities to fight the harsh cold temperature at Tso Moriri. You can also find some homestays in Nyoma village and a guest house in Chumathang. Both Nyoma and Chumathang are much warmer than Tso Moriri lake in winter months.
Nyoma has few guest houses having slightly better facilities to fight the cold and provide comfort in winter months than the ones in Korzok. Similarly, Chumathang has Hot Spring Guest House and due to the presence of hot springs, Chumathang itself is quite warm and lower in altitude.
If the sun is shining and you do not mind the hard cold winters, then you can make the day trip to Tso Moriri from Chumathang or Nyoma to see magical shades of blue color at this lake. However, do not forget to check the weather conditions before leaving from Leh.
How to reach Tso Moriri from Leh
You can reach Tso Moriri from Leh by road via Upshi – Chumathang – Mahe route. Tso Moriri Lake is also connected from Pangong lake directly by Chusul – Tsaga La – Loma – Mahe route.
You can also travel to Tso Moriri lake from Manali Leh Highway via Tso Kar – Puga – Sumdo route. The diversion point to Tso Moriri from Manali Leh Highway is Debring just before Tanglang La pass. However, this route is mostly used to exit from Tso Moriri towards Manali rather than the opposite.
Pangong Tso Lake to Tso Moriri Lake via Changthang (Merak – Chusul – Nyoma)
You can go to Tso Moriri from Pangong Tso directly via the remote and ever beautiful Changthang region. The drive between Pangong Tso and Tso Moriri is one of the most beautiful drives in the whole Ladakh region. Foreigners are not allowed to go beyond Man – Merak Villages as permits are not issued to them for this route.
Hence, they need to follow the indirect, slightly longer route to Tso Moriri from Pangong Tso. A special permit to cross Chusul is required from Leh DC office in order to travel on this route.
You need to make sure you carry fuel for about 550 – 600 KMs because you will be covering Leh – Pangong Tso – Nyoma – Loma – Tso Moriri – Leh without any other petrol pump. And if you want to exit Ladakh through Manali – Leh Highway from Tso Moriri then also carry petrol/diesel for about 650 – 700 KMs as the next petrol pump will be available at Tandi. Otherwise, you need to come back to Karu or Upshi, refill and move back again towards Manali – Leh Highway.
Pangong Lake to Tso Moriri Lake via Chumathang
The indirect route that goes from Chumathang is the longer one, where you need to go all the way back from Pangong Tso to Leh up to Karu and from there you can take left towards Upshi – Chumathang – Korzok to reach Tso Moriri.
This route can be followed by foreign tourists who are not allowed the permit for Changthang (Man – Merak – Chusul etc) region if they do not want to go back to Leh. But, IMO one must go back to Leh from Pangong Tso, refresh themselves and start towards Tso Moriri next morning instead of the very long day via Chumathang.
Road conditions and preferred vehicles
The higher ground clearance vehicles are preferable and 4×4 ones would definitely be helpful especially between Pangong Tso and Tso Moriri via Man – Merak – Chusul – Nyoma (Changthang) route. However, for the general route from Chumathang, quite a few people do it in hatchbacks and sedans as well which depends upon your skills to drive and road conditions at the time of travel.
In general Leh to Tso Moriri road condition via Upshi – Chumathang route is good enough for any type of the car including hatches and sedan.