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Ladakh is all set to develop India’s first ever dark sky reserve. The step is likely to bring multiple benefits to the region. Every travel enthusiast is well aware of the beauty of Ladakh. The pristine lakes on the backdrop of majestic mountains and valleys, pollution-free environment, and scenic motorable roads are some of the attributes of Ladakh that make it a preferred tourist destination. 

Now, India’s first ever dark sky reserve will be developed in Ladakh, further boosting tourism in this region.

What Is a Dark Sky Reserve (DSR)?

A DSR is a dedicated area that restricts use of artificial lights. Such areas are usually around an observatory, park or wildlife sanctuary. The main purpose is to protect the night sky from artificial light pollution. A DSR also helps in protecting the wildlife of the area. 

Moreover, such regions are ideal for carrying out astronomical observations and related research as scientists can observe the night sky through telescopes without any hindrance from any artificial light source.

Dark Sky Reserve in Ladakh

On June 16, 2022,  the Ladakh Union Territory administration, the Indian Institute of Astrophysics, and Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council signed a tripartite agreement between them to develop a portion of the Changthang Wildlife Sanctuary at Ladakh's Hanle village as India's first ever dark sky reserve. The Hale observatory will be at the centre, and a 22-km radius around it will be called the Hanle Dark Sky Reserve (HDSR) area.

Once declared a dark sky area, the region's residents and the administration will together work with scientists to preserve the area from unwanted light pollution. Both tourists and locals will have to adhere to certain regulations. This means no one can use high-beam vehicle headlights or use light-reflecting shields and outdoor lighting at a property. 

Reasons to Choose Ladakh as Dark Sky Reserve

The Hanle village in Ladakh is an ideal choice to become India's first ever dark sky reserve for the following reasons.

  • Hanle is situated at a high altitude of 4,500 metres, free of air pollution. 
  • The weather here remains mostly dry, with very few cloudy nights during most of the year. Such a cold and dry desert region with clear sky conditions are suitable for astronomical observations. 
  • The Indian Institute of Astrophysics already has the Indian Astronomical Observatory Complex at Hanle. The observatory houses an optical, an infrared, and a gamma ray telescope, making it a great spot for the dark sky reserve. Scientists use these telescopes to study space, stars, galaxies, and planets. 
  • Therefore, declaring the region a dark sky reserve will aid astronomical studies and astrophysics experiments. 
  • The region is one of the least populated in the country, with low outdoor human activities at night. Hence, light pollution is already at a minimum.

Where to Staying in Ladakh?

The Driftwood Ladakh resort, an associate property of Club Mahindra, is one of the best places to stay in Ladakh. The typical Ladakhi architecture of the resort against a stunning backdrop of mystical landscape and blue sky sets the perfect ambience from the moment you walk in. 

Take at least 48 hours to get acclimatised to Ladakh’s high-altitude environment after you arrive here. Thereafter, explore nearby locations like Thiksey Monestry, Sangam River Point, Pangong Lake, Khardung La pass, etc., at your own pace. 

Apart from aiding astronomical research, the dark sky reserve in Ladakh will also boost Astro-tourism in the area. Consequentially, it will benefit the local economy as star gazers from India and abroad will likely visit Ladakh to pursue their research or hobby without any disturbances from artificial light sources.

 

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