Sinchita Mitra

A remote village hidden behind the grand Himalayas is what makes Hanle so special. You probably have never heard of this little hamlet, tucked away in a remote region in Ladakh. Yet, this little beauty is too beautiful to miss. Hanle is located in Ladakh, and most people skip it because of either lack of time or lack of awareness. This lack of awareness is what makes Hanle so clean and pure. It is almost left untampered by us humans and is completely virgin.

Hanle is situated about 255 km away from Leh and is easily accessible by car. You would, however, need an inner line permit to traverse this area, as it is highly guarded. It is near to the Indo-Tibet border which makes it a sensitive zone and a security risk.

The town of Hanle is extremely close-knit, and there are only about 1000 people.

Things to do

Hanle is known for its scenic beauty and how God gifted it is. It is known to be the town that rests in the laps of the Himalayas that adds to its beauty. But, there are some interesting places in this town that offer more than just the mesmerising natural beauty.

Indian Astronomical Observatory

This quirky place is managed by the Indian Institute Of Astrophysics in Bangalore and has some interesting kinds of telescopes. It is located at an altitude of 4,500 ft making it the second highest Observatory in the world. It is located atop a hill which overlooks the village. The large dome of the observatory is actually the work station. A technical associate will give you a quick tour of the observatory and explain to you how the machines work. It is genuinely fascinating to see and hear all this. It is also completely powered by solar panels. It houses optical, infrared and gamma-ray telescopes, which pretty cool to look at.

Hanle Monastery

Being close to the Indo-Tibet border, you will find a strong Tibetian culture in Hanle. This Buddhist monastery is a testimony to that cultural influence. This ancient monastery was built under the patronage of Sengge Namgyal. He was a popular king of Ladakh, who fought off the mighty Mongols when they tried to invade Ladakh. This monastery is highly revered and currently, 10 Lamas reside in here. You would be captivated by the calmness and divinity that will engulf you as you step inside this monastery.

A Starry Night

source: WallMonkeys.com

There are hardly any vehicles that emit pollution in Hanle. This town is alms devoid of pollution which makes the night sky glow with stars. You can see the shining stars that cover the sky completely and all you can is just stare at them in complete admiration. This kind of experience is impossible to get in cities where the stars are hidden by a thick view of pollution and dust. This along with other factors like An annual rain plus snow precipitation of less than 10 cm, low ambient temperatures, low humidity, low concentration of atmospheric aerosols, low atmospheric water vapour, dark nights, makes this place perfect for just lying on your backs and star gazing.

This is the main reason why the astronomical observatory is located at Hanle.

Important Tips

Hanle is a very remote place, which means that there is a lack of food joints. There are almost no food joints as of now, and you have to eat at your guest house or homestay. If you are going out to venture Hanle the next day it is essential to pack food from the guest house and take it with you.

There are absolutely no ATMs as of now in Hanle. Carrying cash is a necessity.

You can find basic medicines at the army settlement camps in Hanle, but the village itself has only one pharmacy.

The nearest petrol pump is located at Karu, which is about 240 km from Hanle. It falls in between Leh and Hanle. If you are driving on your own, then you should fill up your car tank at Karu itself.

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