After the recent Chinese incursions in Ladakh in 2013, I guessed government has realized that they more they allow public access and tourists in Ladakh, lesser the chances will be of another country trying to take over these lands. One of the basic reasons which I think led Chinese to think that they can set camps on Indian soil is because there is hardly any movement up here. For most of the time of the year, these areas are covered under a thick sheet of snow and hence cut off from rest of the country. In summer when Ladakh does open up for tourism, there are certain areas where public entrance is still not allowed. So in a way, all around the year, either it is just the Indian Army or a handful of locals seen here.
To remove the restriction of Inner Line Permit was indeed a huge step by Indian government. While it still posses several security threats in its own way,;I believe it will tremendously help in connecting these regions with rest of the country. It would be beneficial for locals as well since their livelihood; that either depends on farming or tourism, will definitely get better. If you think about it, areas that were just recently open for tourism in 2013; people living there were completely dependent on farming. Most of them were just shepherds with no idea about the country they were part of. Now at least when the tourism grows; they will be able to earn slightly more and will also feel connected to their own people.
Areas that were earlier restricted but are now open are:
- Pachathang and Tyakshi Villages in Nubra valley.
- Leh – Chiktan – Shaker – Khangral – Kargil route
- Kargil to Dah route
- Earlier foreigners were not allowed beyond Spangmik but now can drive to the villages of Man, Merak until Loma
Foreign Tourists in Ladakh
Stay advised that foreigners still need to procure a Protected Area Permit. Government made even that a little easy by reducing the minimum number of tourists on the permit from 4 to 2. Indian tourists can visit these areas without having to get an Inner Line Permit. Village of Hanle, the Loma to Mahe stretch and areas near Chumur; these still remain off-limit completely for foreign nations and Indian citizens still need to get an ILP to visit here. I certainly hope that even these restrictions will be removed in near future.
I hope the information above was of help. If you have any further questions; please feel free to ask in the comments section below; or at our Community Forum; and I will be glad to answer.