This Dark Sky Reserve, aided by the Indian Institute of Astrophysics Bengaluru, promises to boost India‘s astro-tourism, said Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) Science & Technology; MoS PMO, Personnel, Public Grievances, Pensions, Atomic Energy and Space, Dr Jitendra Singh.
Hanle, known for India’s first dark sky reserve, offers excellent stargazing conditions due to its secluded location, high altitude and minimal light pollution. It will provide an optimal site for optical, infra-red, and gamma-ray telescopes at an altitude of 4500 meters.
In the context of India’s space achievements, including Chandrayaan-3 and Aditya-L1 solar mission, the Dark Sky Reserve is anticipated to captivate enthusiasts, joining the exclusive ranks of 15 or 16 similar sites worldwide, said Singh. With a tripartite MoU signed among the UT Administration, Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC) Leh, and the Indian Institute of Astrophysics, the project aims to bolster local tourism and economy through science and technology initiatives.
The Minister informed that the Sanctuary is being set up with the help of Indian Institute of Astrophysics Bengaluru, which is affiliated to the Department of Science & Technology, Govt of India.
Dark Sky tourism is said to have grown significantly in recent years, and Hanle’s opening to all visitors is anticipated to significantly increase tourism in the area. The recently permitted overnight stay for foreign tourists in Hanle by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs adds to the region’s appeal.Singh also spoke about the Snow Sculpture that was introduced in Ladakh last year in a big way from the winter season and is promoted as a tourist attraction, which will also create job opportunities for the locals.
Addressing the gathering after inaugurating the exhibition ‘Ladakh’s Pride’ to mark the fourth anniversary of the establishment of the Union Territory, the minister also acknowledged Ladakh’s uniqueness. He emphasised its status as India’s youngest Union Territory with the oldest civilization.
He also underscored Ladakh’s commitment to becoming “Carbon Neutral,” unveiling a INR 50 crore Special Development Package, a funding approach by the Central government for the region’s diverse projects.
The minister also praised Ladakh’s cultural richness through the exhibition ‘Ladakh’s Pride,’ showcasing GI-tagged treasures of Ladakh like Seabuckthorn, Raktsey Karpal Apricots, Ladakh wood carvings and Pashmina wool.