A quaint, peaceful village in Ladakh, Hanle should definitely be on the itinerary of the intrepid traveller. It is home to some of the most unique attractions such as the 17th- century Hanle Monastery which belongs to the Drukpa Kagyu branch of Tibetan Buddhism and the Indian Astronomical Observatory, one of the world’s highest astronomical observatories.
Hanle is approximately 150km away from Mahe and is easily accessible by road through Nyoma and Loma. As you approach Hanle, the majestic mountains slowly turn into a cluster of bite-sized hills. The best time to experience the scenic beauty of Hanle is between May and June; that’s because during those two months the weather conditions are the most pleasant.
During the winters, the entire land is mostly frozen, which makes it difficult for travellers to stay. Since it’s strategically located close to the Indo-China border, a visit here needs special permit. You’ve got to take inner line permits regardless of your nationality; and photography is strictly prohibited due to security reasons. All said and done, Hanle is a paradise for those seeking peace, away from the maddening pace of the city.
Built approximately 20km from the LAC or the Line of Actual Control between India and Tibet, Hanle Monastery is a unique specimen of Tibetan, Chinese and Indian architectural style. It is one of the largest and well-known monasteries in Ladakh; it was built by a Ladakhi king called Sengge Namgyal alongside a Tibetan lama named Taktsang Repa Ngakwang Gyatso.
The Indian Astronomical Observatory, one of the world’s highest observatories, at an altitude of 14,764 feet above sea level, was dedicated to the nation in 2001 by the then Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister, Farooq Abdullah. The observatory has two active telescopes: a 6.5 feet tall Himalayan Chandra Telescope, and the High Altitude Gamma Ray Telescope. Operated by the Indian Institute of Astrophysics in Bengaluru, the observatory has a guest house which provides accommodation to travellers on prior notice.