Merak is a small village on the shores of the west bank of Pangong Tso. It lies about 250km south of Leh and is a five hour drive over the mighty 18000ft Chang La pass. The population is probably less than 200, with a small school and hospital and a couple of homestays fronting up as lodging options. It lies close to the Chinese Border, and often the Indian Army finds itself at loggerheads with their Chinese friends. At an altitude close to 15000ft above mean sea level, a few small steps can result in breathlessness and mountain sickness is a constant sword hanging over one’s head. Merak braves harsh winters with temperatures dropping down to below -25°c and the strong winds across the vast open expanses probably drops the wind chill even further. Why would one visit this back of beyond place you ask ? Well, besides the breath taking scenery of the Pangong Tso lake framed by high snow peaked mountains, it also boasts of Bortle 1 skies, probably the best in the world for astrophotography. It is no wonder that this place takes my breath away and I long to visit it ever so often to get my fix of the night sky! Oh Merak!
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