Pangong Lake is the most unlikely of places for a naval conflict between two of the world’s nuclear-powers, India and China, with a third, Pakistan, looking on with not a little interest.
Lying some 280 miles east of Islamabad, 360 miles north of New Delhi and 2,170 miles west of Beijing, Pangong Lake is in the remote northern Himalayas. In 1905, the explorer Ellsworth Huntington said that its beauty could ‘rival, or even excel, the most famous lakes of Italy or Switzerland’. It is a harsh world, frozen in winter, inhabited by a sparse indigenous population of hardy goat herders. And it’s situated in the southernmost spur of the Aksai Chin, a part of Ladakh (literally ‘the land of the high passes’) that, along with Jammu and Kashmir, form the disputed provinces now partitioned by India and Pakistan.