The situation related to permits in Ladakh seems to be developing for worst only. There was recently a lot of fuss about Hanle and Umling La getting off limits for the travelers. As a matter of fact, the entire Chushul route is being removed from the list of tourist places. Shyok road too may be impacted by this. If you are planning a trip to Ladakh this year, then below is some information that I am sure can be of help in planning your trip for better.
Umling La came into a lot of limelight in last few months as the highest motor able road in the world. People assumed it as another Khardung La where they were free to travel to which was not really the case. The lack of information on traveler’s side; and necessary steps missing on authorities end caused a lot of confusion; and some riders ventured into places that were not ought to. They were caught and detained by Indian Army and this is what started the entire ruckus which still is developing; and there is still no saying which way the camel will sit.
Permits in Ladakh in 2018
This is what you need to be aware of and plan accordingly.
- Umling La is off limits for sure this year. Do not keep it on your itineraries.
- Hanle in all probability too will be not reachable for tourists. Do not plan a journey here as well.
- Chushul route may or may not be allowed. I would however recommend that you do not plan traveling this way at all. While you are in Leh, ask around and if allowed, then you may travel. But for your initial plan, draft it in a way assuming that you will not be going towards Chushul at all.
- Shyok road is another problem. Now there are two different situations applicable here which may result in this road getting blocked. It was initially one of the worst stretches in entire Ladakh but BRO worked and improved it tremendously last year. The work is expected to continue this year as well due to which the road may be blocked completely for some time; or maybe for entire season.
- The entire situation related to Umling La, Hanle and Chushul also is impacting the Shyok route due to which permits may not be issued at all. As a matter of fact, there never was a need for permits for Shyok road. Your regular ILP for Nubra and Pangong worked for this road too; but now it seems, it would have to be mentioned separately.
Now this was for Indian citizens. Situations seems to be developing for even worse for foreign nationals. There is word that tourists from China, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Afghanistan, Middle east, and possibly Sri Lanka too will not be granted permits at all. Read How to Obtain Protected Area Permit for details on the entire procedure and related charges.
If you are an Indian citizen, then read How to Obtain Inner Line Permit for complete procedure and charges you will pay.
Until now, at the check posts, you will just submit a photo copy of your permit and move on. Situation this year however is a bit different with a lot of security measures. As an Indian citizen, along with a copy of the permit, you will also need to show the original permit, your Aadhar Card, or PAN Card (if you do not have Aadhar). So make sure you are carrying a government issued valid ID proof apart from your DL. If you do not have Aadhar or PAN card, then carry your voter’s ID.
For foreign national, you will be asked to produce a photocopy of your protected area permit, show the original and provide your passport for validation.
How it Impacts you?
Well if you are a foreign national, then you must contact a travel agent in Leh in advance. You anyways would have to be sponsored by an agent in order to get a Protected Area Permit. So please call an agent in advance and if they confirm that the permits are being issued currently, and they can help you get it; only then you should fly in to India. If you are unable to get a travel agent to confirm the same for you, best to postpone the plan for next year.
If you are an India citizen, then below is how it will impact you.
- You will not be able to visit Umling La, Photi La, Hanle, Loma, Chushul, Tsaga, Rezang La, Nyoma and Shyok road.
- There cannot be any more traveling straight from Nubra to Pangong and Pangong to Moriri
- You will go to Nubra, come back to Leh, then go to Pangong, again come back to Leh and then travel to Tso Moriri.
- This situation may improve later as the year progresses but this is how it holds as of now.
- When you draft your initial itinerary, plan keeping the above in mind. You can change it later after you arrive in Leh and learn that permits are being issued.
I hope the information above was of help. If you have any further questions; or need help planning your Ladakh trip; please feel free to ask in the comments section below; or at our Community Forum; and I will be glad to answer.