Tangste is the name of a village that is situated in the Leh district of Ladakh. It is also a border that connects the Nubra region and Pangong region situated at the north and south directions. The village named Tangste is famous for being the war site for Tibet and Ladakh.
Name and origin
Tangste is also known as “Tang-gam” or “Dang-gam” by the local people. Tang means pile and gam means long, thus it brings big piles of rock formations on this place which are called Tangste. Another name for tangste was dang khamba meaning dang area of flat land near river banks that are suitable for growing crops. There are mainly two places where tourists can visit in tangste namely Khalsar Darcha Bridge over Pangong Tso lake and Ladakhi war memorials on both sides of the road leading to Pakistan border at Khardungla pass. According to surveyors, Tangste has five more places that are famous for trekking purposes.
The khalasar darcha bridge which was constructed in 1999 is the second bridge over the Pangong Tso river, about 6 km east of its confluence with the Indus river. The bridge serves as an important link between Nubra Valley and Baltistan. The village Tangste is situated on banks of River Pangong Tso at the height of 3750 m above sea level. It can be reached via Khalsar town of Nubra valley or Baltistan of Ladakh region after crossing Khardung la pass (5602 m).
According to legend, Tang-gam takes its name from the story of “Two Brothers” (Tibetan: “Tang-bzan”), the sons of Nyima Gon, who founded two villages in this place to commemorate their father. Tang became Khalsar and Gam became Tangste after many years. When Tsepal Namgyal was the 26th king of Ladakh he brought peace between warring Nubra and Balti tribes inhabiting areas around Pangong Tso Lake when he married Princess Chong Chigmo from Balti. She later gave birth to 25th king Jamyang Namgyal, who further consolidated his kingdom with help from his mother’s family. In thanksgiving for bringing peace between the people, 25th King Jamyang Namgyel built a new palace on the foundations of the original palace of King Tsepal NamgyTsepal Namgyal. King Jamyang Namgyal died in 1670 at Tangste
Tangste- Facts on War
Tangste, the war memorials of Ladakh War 1971 are located on the bank of Pangong Tso lake. The war between India and Pakistan was fought here in August–September 1971 during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 when the Indian army captured this area. It is situated 10 km towards south of Khalsar town which is 66 km south towards Leh city. Here Indian army erected three monuments for soldiers killed in two famous battles i.e., Battle of Gurung Hill (Kakki Gala), Battle of Three Pagodas Pass (Passo Chu Gali), and Battle of Turtuk (Thuten Kha).
How Tangste is Famous For Tourism?
Tangste was once a war site where the two countries India and Pakistan fought against each other. It is now being considered as a place for tourism. For a tourist, Tangste is a place which has much to offer in terms of peace and tranquility at the same time retaining its rich culture and history. The area has many local inhabitants who have been living here from very ancient times. They still follow their age-old customs and tradition such as celebrating Ladakhi festivals such as Teej (the third day of Tibetan new year), Saga Dawa (the celebration of Lord Buddha’s birthday), etc., which attracts tourists all over the country towards it every year. Tourists can also visit Khalsar town which is known as ‘MiniLeh’ by the local people. It is a small town situated on a hilltop, about 66 km from Leh city. Tourists can visit the Buddhist Monasteries situated in Khalsar village which are also known as ‘Mini Monastery Towns’.
Tourist attractions include Pangong Tso Lake, the bridge over River Pangong Tso, War Memorials of Ladakh War 1971 (Indian Army’s victory over Pakistan Army), Khalsar Darcha Bridge over River Pangong Tso, and “Mini Leh” (Khalsar).
The tour to Tangste can be done either through direct Taxi or shared taxi along with other tourists who wish to visit this place. Trekking is another way of reaching there; trekking can be done either from Khalsar Darcha Bridge or from Pangong side.
Khardung La lies on the Srinagar-Leh highway near the border of India and China at an altitude of 5602 meters above sea level, which is the highest motorable point in the world. It has been named after Ladakhi King Chamba Bagushal who according to local myth conquered this land. The pass lies in the Himalayan range called Karakoram. The road over it leads into Nubra Valley but before that, it passes through Tangste village about 10 km away towards North West of Leh town. The track via Tangste provides one with beautiful scenery of mountains along with rare flora & fauna Tourists visiting Tangste are allowed to visit Khardungla by paying a nominal entry fee.
A Complete Feeling of Tourism
The following sites must be visited to have the complete feel of tourism at Tangste:
1) Pangong Tso lake, 3 km towards South West of Tangste village which is a thin sheet of water stretched between India and China border having mysterious long tracks on both sides.
2) The track leading to War Memorials of Ladakh War 1971 which marks the victory over the Pakistan Army in September 1971. It has three victory columns high up in memory of soldiers killed here during the battle. The road goes 1/2 km inside Indian territory where normally no one can go without special from Government due to security reason.
3) Khalsar Darcha Bridge over River Pangong Tso which is 10 km towards South West of Tangste. It was inaugurated in December 2008 by Prime Minister Mr. Manmohan Singh to provide connectivity between Nubra Valley with the rest part of Ladakh region. The bridge has made life easy and time-saving for locals and tourists visiting Nubra valley (Ladakh).
4) Tangste Monastery: Situated on hill top about 2 km from Tangste village; it is said that this monastery was built during 8th century AD by Tibetan King Sambhota who came here to make new script for written language. However, the present building of the monastery dates back to the 16th century.
5) The trail from Tangste village leading to War Memorials which passes through Kiangbak Valley famous for apricot trees. Visitors can witness apricot blossom during the spring season in February and March. However, the trail will take about 3 days one way from Tangste because of its tough route during climb up to war memorials at a height of 4812 meters above sea level. Tourists are advised not to undertake this trek if they have a fear of heights or any medical problem. It is a pure adventure trek where you need a guide and porters to help you in difficult traverse.
6) Zorawar Fort: Situated on the Siachen glacier at a height of 5000+ meters about 40 km towards West of Tangste, it was built by King Zorawar Singh in the early 18th century. The fort is the second highest motorable road after Khardungla. It is a historical monument capturing local tribes’ culture and lifestyle before the annexation of Kashmir State to India in 1947 which got freedom from Dogra Rule.
7) Gata Loops: On the way back to Leh from War Memorials at a distance of about 40 km towards South West of Tangste, the route crosses one section called “Gata Loops” where a number of sharp descending spiral turns have been put together making it difficult for drivers while negotiating them especially during winters due to snowfall. Many tourists have lost lives here including foreigners because they were not aware of this loop and little bit lack knowledge about local conditions.
8) Trans Himalayan National Park: It is a trans-Himalayan national park established in 1984 covering 2,168 sq km area located between Leh and Nubra Valley (Ladakh). The park has rare and endangered species like Snow Leopard, Ibex, Blue Sheep (Bharal), Tibetan Antelope (Chiru), Musk Deer, etc which attract wildlife enthusiasts to visit the place either during winters or after snow clearance by the forest department in April–May each year.
9) Nubra Topzor Festival: This festival commemorating the victory over Pakistan Army takes place at Tangste village where locals celebrate it with gusto involving around bonfires accompanied by the traditional folk dance of soldiers depicting their victory over the Pakistani Army.
10) Pangong Lake: Situated between the Southern tip of the Ladakh region and the Northern part of Tibet, it is about 150 km long salt water lake surrounded by white gypsum rocks. The lake gets evaporated during summers leaving behind a number of small salt water lakes here and there with salty residue. The reason why the lake is called so because “Pang” in Tibetan language means “salt”. It is popular among tourists for boating activities where they can enjoy landscape surrounding the area on both sides during a 4-hour trip by boat.
11) Chushul War Memorial & Museum: Situated at an elevation of 5086 meters above sea level towards South East of Leh town, it is a memorial and museum commemorating the Indian Army’s bravery during the 1962 India-China war. It was seeing action most fiercely during the Sino-India War in 1962.
12) Magnetic Hill: Situated on Leh-Kargil road at a distance of about 15km from Leh town towards South West direction; visitors can witness a strange phenomenon known as “Magnetic hill” (where vehicles move up the hill without any engine) during their return journey back to Leh after spending some days in Nubra valley. You need to stop your vehicle and put it in neutral gear before taking off otherwise you will feel a jerk when accelerating to pick speed. This hill has an interesting story behind its formation which has attracted many local and foreign.
Leh to Tangste Journey
To a lot of us, this question answering itself. A planned escape from the city should be about an uncomplicated day-to-day existence in accordance with nature and providing for oneself. Adventure is all around… or should be! In response to popular demand, we present “The Leh To Tangste Escape Plan”. Our plan does not require any special skills or talents—just a bit of courage and commitment to take you outside your comfort zone.
Now before you start thinking we’re crazy let us tell you that we didn’t come up with this plan in one night. This idea has been germinating ever since we moved to this tiny village called Tangste in Eastern Bhutan and it was just a matter of time before we pulled all our learnings together to present this guide. We thought about it long and hard, chatted with fellow travelers who had visited Tangste in the past, discussed with our friends in Bhutan (including one who is a local), exchanged notes with photographers (who visited us repeatedly), and basically tried to do everything ‘right’. After completing the first draft of this article in early 2016, we tested this plan on our own clients in August-September 2016 when The Travel Pilgrims got shut down due to heavy rains.
We traveled extensively in 2015 all over Bhutan documenting what we feel are some of the best travel experiences thatcountry has to offer for Lonely Planet’s guidebook on Bhutan which was released in April 2016.
Back to Tangste… This tiny village is located about 45 km north of Paro in Bhutan, right at the edge of the Haa valley with Phuentsholing just across the border in India. Yes, you can actually step out of Bhutan into India! The journey to Tangste begins with a drive up from Paro through some dramatic road construction works and passes several picturesque villages. Much like everywhere else in Bhutan, there’s a profusion of prayer flags fluttering along the way and it has been scientifically proven that these symbols bring good fortune. It was quite sunny during our trip but we were lucky enough to get a dusting of snow at this altitude.
Now, we’re aware that this might sound like a bold claim but we think it’s true when we say that Tangste has some of the best sunrises in Bhutan. In fact, if you stay here for a few days you will find yourself waking up at all sorts of funny hours just to catch the morning light cast on these majestic mountains surrounding us. If your spirit is still willing after a long day of exploring then there are plenty of opportunities for stargazing as well—the skies above Tangste have been declared a Dark Zone which means they are extremely low light pollution so the views into deep space are phenomenal.
Culture and Behavior of Locals in Tangste
The people in Tangste village are simple farmers, most of them are Buddhists. They often chant mantra and pray to their deities during festivals. They live in simple houses made up of wood and bamboo. The roof is covered with leaves during summer and straw mats when it rains. People greet each other by joining their palms together in front of the chest or simply saying “Namaste” when they meet someone apart from family members and relatives. Greetings such as “Good morning,”,”Good Evening,”,”How do you do?”,”Hello,” and”Bye-bye” is common in the culture here in Tangste village.
What Do We See When We Walk Through Tangste Village?
Tangste Village lies on top of a hill overlooking terraced fields covering gentle slopes on either side, leading down to the road that crosses the river by a modern bridge of concrete slabs supported by masonry piers with an attractive parapet wall of dressed stone. A new three-story school building has been built opposite the existing school buildings on this side of the road while retaining its original structure. At the back of the village there is a large new monastery and behind this stands an impressive, but unfinished, temple (elevated on stilts). When completed it will be one of the largest Buddhist temples of its kind in Bhutan. The main road out of Thimphu to Phuentsholing runs through this village for about 5km and there are several shops selling food and household items and/or offering simple services (eg: hairdressing). There is also a small police station here.
Sitting on top of a hill overlooking natural surroundings, Tangste Village is located beneath mountains giving flowered fields around the area.Tangste Village is named after its founder Tashi Dorji, whose father was a famous man in the 12th century. The first inhabitants of this village migrated from other places during 1630 to 1650.
What is The Role of a Woman in Tangste Village?
In general, women can be part of the government. Women are not only fighting for their rights, but also they are trying to provide education to their children (Sonam 2009). Women always work with men; therefore, it is very easy for them to do any jobs with equal responsibilities.
Since most of the people living in tangste village are indigenous and follow Buddhist culture, the majority of these people respect women more than men. They think that women play an important role (Sonam 2009). Women teach religion and moral values to the kids.