The Union Territory administration in Ladakh will be declaring Hanle as a ‘dark sky sanctuary’ in collaboration with the Indian Institute of Astrophysics to promote astro-tourism in the region, a senior official has said. A dark sky sanctuary promotes proper illumination where and when it is needed without wasting energy and polluting other areas, especially the night sky, which does not require illumination.

Principal Secretary (Planning, Development and Monitoring Department), Ladakh, Pawan Kotwal made the announcement during a high-level meeting convened to discuss the streamlining of certain activities in the protected and wildlife areas. Hanle, which is home to the world’s highest astronomical observatory, is located in the Hanle river valley on an old branch of the ancient Ladakh-Tibet trade route.

It is the site of the 17th century Hanle Monastery of the Drukpa Kagyu branch of Tibetan Buddhism. Leh-based Army officer, Col Pankaj Sinha, who was also present at the meeting, said the Army will extend all the cooperation necessary towards showing Hanle as a dark sky sanctuary. The officials said the meeting also discussed in the detail the issue with regard to the attack of wild dogs on rare species and birds, especially ground-nesting birds in Changthang.