In a bid to exploit its pollution-free environment and geographical location, the administration of the Union Territory (UT) of Ladakh has decided to introduce ‘astro tourism’ in a big way.
The Lt. Governor of Ladakh, RK Mathur, has mooted the idea of promoting astro tourism in Ladakh from where the stars can be spotted easily as there is hardly any pollution to block visibility of celestial bodies.
Commissioner Secretary, Rigzin Samphel, discussed the issue in a meeting that was attended by Director Tourism, Kunzes Angmo and engineer incharge, Indian Astronomical Observatory, Hanle, Dorjey Angchuk.
Ladakh is known for its nature-rich destinations that experience less light pollution, allowing one to spot stars more easily.
Astro tourism dates back several centuries when mankind looked up to the stars, imagined figures and gave them meanings. This kind of astro-travel encourages to look up and experience the night sky in a completely different way.
During the meeting, it was highlighted that due to the distinctive geographical feature, there is a great scope for astro tourism which will not only promote tourism in Ladakh but also provide ample opportunity to the locals to earn their livelihood. Besides, tourists will get a unique opportunity to visit new places with viewing and observing the unknown world of space which would be very exciting.
It was decided that the department of tourism and culture will identify various locations where telescopes would be installed for the use of the tourist and public. Proposal with regards to the identification of locations would be sought from both the Autonomous Hill Development Councils of Leh and Kargil.
Astro tourism has taken roots in southern India where people from other countries come to watch the sky as it is one of the ideal spaces for sky watching because of its location.
Like southern India, Ladakh has the potential to become a popular destination for watching the uninterrupted skies. Away from the hustle bustle and lights in the cities, people from Ladakh can locate many stars which otherwise would be difficult to see.
It was decided that the Indian Astronomical Observatory, Hanle, shall guide and train the locals, so that they will be updated with night sky chart to highlight the nightly event.
Director Tourism was asked to prepare a detailed proposal after receiving the lists from the respective Hill Councils.
Meanwhile, the ministry of tourism, Government of India, has upgraded the Food Craft Institute, Leh, into a State Institute of Hotel Management and also nominated Dr. Ambedkar Institute of Hotel Management (AIHM), Chandigarh as a Mentor Institute to guide IHM Ladakh on various aspects, besides the finalisation of DPR.
In this connection, Sitesh Srivastava, Principal AIHM, Chandigarh, visited Ladakh and interacted with the concerned Officers.