Changthang Wildlife Sanctuary in Ladakh, northern India, is set to be home to the country’s first ‘Night Sky sanctuary’. Authorities believe that the sanctuary will enhance the region’s appeal to both domestic and international travellers.
The Changthang Wildlife Sanctuary is a high altitude wildlife sanctuary located in the Ladakh union territory located in Northern India. Ladakh has been a key destination for international tourism for years thanks to one of its key features – the breathtaking Himalayan mountains.
Beside adventure tourism, the Sanctuary – which stretches for 4,000 km2 – also channels a strong Tibetan culture and is a paradise for animal observation. Visitors can discover the life of endemic species such as the kiang, Tibetan Wild Ass and even the rare Black-necked Crane.
A new activity that could further attract international travellers to Ladakh is astro-tourism. A Night Sky Sanctuary is to be set up within the historic village of Hanle located inside the Changthang Wildlife Sanctuary.
Located in a cold desert region of Ladakh, Hanle is far away from populated areas, human disturbance or pollution. As it will be the world’s highest-located site for stars observation, Hanle has year-long clear sky and dry weather conditions making it ideal for stargazing.
100% dedicated to astronomical observation
The village is already home to various telescopes set up to observe the sky over the Himalayan mountains range.
Work to develop the site for stargazing and scientific observation will take into consideration the necessity of preserving the night sky from unwanted light pollution and illumination. Work on the sanctuary has already started and is expected to be completed by the end of this year.
In a recent interview with newspaper, “The Hindu”, Doctor Annapurni Subramaniam, director of the Indian Institute of Astrophysics said: “There will be some restrictions during the evening and night due to vehicles and headlights. There will be delineators on roads like you have outside observatories. People can come, park, observe the sky and stay in home stays”.