Hanle in the Changthang region of Ladakh is one of the most beautiful, enchanting, calm, and soul-losing places in India. Hanle has a hill-top Hanle Monastery offering some great aerial views of the whole village that is home to about 1000 people.
The views from the top of the monastery are just breathtaking. Hanle also houses an Indian Astronomical Observatory which is the world’s highest observatory in the world at a staggering height of 4500 Mtrs. The Hanle Observatory is operated by the Indian Institute of Astrophysics, Bengaluru, and is currently the second-highest optical observatory in the world, with an installed telescope of about 2.01 meters (6.5 feet) in diameter.
Let's quickly dive into the details:
Hanle Village – The Hidden Gem of Ladakh
Hanle is about 97 km from Mahe village, and the road runs through Nyoma and then Loma, where you need to pass the bridge on the right that takes you to Hanle further 50 km ahead of Loma.
Hats off to BRO, they have created such smooth roads in the cold desert at such high altitudes and harsh conditions. As you move towards Hanle, the size of the mountains starts to decrease, and you start witnessing a series of small mountains clustered together, giving a feeling of a different world altogether.
The journey to Nyoma – Loma and up to Hanle is extremely nice with beautiful vistas all around you, and in fact, it is one of those journeys which I can go on ever and ever again. I had never been to such a beautiful place ever. Roads could look freshly laid, but with caution, do not cruise as there are inverted bumps left on the roads so that the water passes through them. Such bumps can damage your vehicle, so be careful with the drive 🙂
Hanle is very near to the Line of Actual Control,
so one needs to get Inner Line Permits for Ladakh. There is no option to get Hanle permit online and you need to get a special stamp from the DC office or Tourist Information Center in Leh.
Since the 2021 end of the season, Indian tourists do not need any permits anymore in Ladakh for regular sightseeing. You just need to pay the Ladakh Ecology Fee on the website and carry the receipt of it. Here is the link where you need to pay it: https://www.lahdclehpermit.in/register-as-domestic. Current Ladakh ecology fees are broken down as follows:
- Environment Fee = Rs 400 one time
- Wildlife Fee/Something = Rs 20 per day
- Red Cross Fee = Rs 50 one time but Optional, you don’t need to pay if you don’t want to.
The place is very scenic and feels out of the world. However, in actual reality, the place is extremely harsh and difficult to survive, especially in winter. There are only a few accommodations available in the village and the facilities like electricity, medical aid, hot running water, western toilets, etc. are luxuries in themselves.
The lack of oxygen makes survival difficult if your body is not properly acclimatized to its high altitude. Hence, one needs to plan his/her journey extremely carefully to make it an acute mountain sickness-free vacation.
Location & Altitude
Hanle is located about 260 km from Leh town of Ladakh UT. Hanle village is one of the high-altitude villages in Ladakh at a staggering altitude which is close to 4300 Meters (not sure about the actual).
Best Time to Travel Hanle
From December to March, Hanle remains mostly frozen, in extremely cold conditions with the only option to stay as homestays that may not be the as convenient option for you.
In April types, it starts to get a bit warm and one can afford to sleep even in homestays, I did the same 🙂
Then May to September is a very pleasant season to visit Hanle and a lot of tourists visit this place now. Hence, May to September is the best time to visit Hanle.
Come October and November, the tourists start to reside completely as cold starts to set in again and you start a bit uncomfortable at Homestays but it is still manageable.
You can always refer to my detailed guide on the best time to visit Ladakh.
How to Reach Hanle
Let us check the details of routes to reach Hanle from Leh.
Route from Leh to Hanle by Road
This is the general route to Hanle that most people take to visit this ever-beautiful place in Ladakh. You can reach in about 9 – 10 Hrs depending upon the number of breaks you take in between the journey. The route along with the distance between the subsequent places is as follows:
Leh – Karu (36 km) – Upshi (13 km) – Kumdok (19 km) – Kere (53 km) – Chumathang (34 km) – Mahe (22 km) – Nyoma (25 km) – Loma (22 km) – Hanle(51 km) = 275 km
You can cover Thiksey, Hemis, and Shey monasteries while going through this route if you haven’t covered them earlier while going to Pangong Tso. This route provides the best road conditions for all other routes.
So, if you are one of those who prefer a relaxing vacation and do not want to rush through places then, I will suggest making a three-day trip to Hanle via this route from Leh. Of course, I assume your body has been acclimatized properly by staying for a couple of nights in Leh and spending a couple of nights in Nubra Valley as well before attempting to sleep in the cold desert of Changthang at Hanle.
If you are short on time, then you can also exit Manali via Manali – Leh Highway via Hanle and then to Tso Moriri via this route only, but you need to ensure you have enough fuel to cover about 850 km without any fuel pump.
Route from Pangong Tso Lake to Hanle
There exists a direct route between Hanle / Tso Moriri and Pangong Tso as well and in most general cases, you will always be doing it from the direct route of Pangong Tso to Hanle because you can exit Ladakh from Tso Moriri towards Manali – Leh Highway after visiting Hanle and Tso Moriri without coming back towards Leh.
Secondly, both Hanle and Tso Moriri are higher than Pangong Tso, so as per the acclimatization schedule, you should stay near Pangong Tso before spending the night at Hanle and Tso Moriri.
However, all depends subject on the approval of permits for this route via Chusul. As of 2022, Indian tourists do not require any permits to travel anywhere in Ladakh.
Foreigners are not at all allowed to go beyond Man – Merak Villages as permits are not issued to them for this route beyond Man village.
Spangmik (Pangong Tso) – Man (9 km) – Merak (12 km) – Kakstet (4 km) – Chusul (24 km) – Tsaga La (33 km) – Tsaga Village (20 km) – Loma (23 km) – Hanle(51 km) = 176 km
Route from Hanle to Tso Moriri
After visiting Hanle, you can opt to travel to Tso Moriri from where either you can go to Ladakh, or you can exit towards Manali via Manali Leh Highway. There exist two routes to reach Tso Moriri from Hanle, one via Mahe bridge and the other via Chumur.
Below is the route which you can follow to reach Tso Moriri from Hanle via Mahe bridge:
Hanle – Loma (51 km) – Nyoma (22 km) – Mahe (25 km) – Sumdo (10 km) – Tso Moriri / Korzok (53 km) = 161 km
The other route goes via Chumur
whose permits are hard to come by where even though from 2021 no permit is required, the army can still stop you to visit such border regions. But if you are able to get permission from them or they are in general allowing the tourists then nothing gets better and more adventurous on your Ladakh journey.
Again as of 2022, permits are not required for domestic tourists to travel anywhere in Ladakh but then Chumur is close to the border, so it will be the army’s decision to let you travel or not. Below is the route which you can follow to reach Tso Moriri from Hanle via Chumur village:
Hanle – Salsal La (62 km) – Charchagan La (23 km) – Tso Moriri / Korzok (60 km) = 145 km
You need to make sure you carry fuel for about 700 – 800 km because you will be covering Leh – Pangong Tso – Nyoma – Loma – Hanle – Tso Moriri – Leh without any other petrol pump. And if you want to exit Ladakh through Manali Leh Highway from Tso Moriri then also carry petrol/diesel for about 900 – 1000 km as the next petrol pump will be available at Tandi or Keylong (started in 2022). Otherwise, you need to come back to Karu or Upshi, refill, and move back again towards Manali – Leh Highway.
The bus from Leh to Hanle leaves at 6.30 AM every Saturday and returns the next day from Hanle to Leh. The charges are about Rs 525. There is also a bus that travels to Koyul, you can get down near Rhongo or Loma bend and then travel to Hanle by hitchhiking.
The higher ground clearance vehicles are preferable and 4×4 ones would definitely be helpful, though not required, especially between Pangong Tso to Tso Moriri via Man – Merak – Chusul – Nyoma (Changthang) route AND Tso Moriri to Hanle via Chumur. If you are an experienced driver or rider, even the route from Pangong Tso to Tso Moriri should not cause many issues apart from driving on a dirt track.
However, for the general route via Chumathang or Mahe bridge, quite a few people do it in hatchbacks and sedans as well, which depends upon your skills to drive and road conditions at the time of travel. The roads are pretty well paved from Leh to Mahe to Loma to Hanle.
Video – Hanle Sightseeing Places
Generally, at least a two-night stay is preferable to truly witness the mesmerizing beauty and vistas at Hanle, including the night skywatch. Of course, one night stay will also help you watch a star-studded night sky, an opportunity to capture some galaxy with your camera. Generally, I will suggest:
Day 1 | Leh – Upshi – Chumathang – Nyoma – Loma – Hanle
- Cover Landscapes en route
- Overnight at Hanle
Day 2 | Hanle
- Cover Hanle Monastery and Hanle Observatory
- Leisure walks in the pasture lands of Hanle
- You can also plan to visit Kyon Tso twin lakes too
- Overnight at Hanle
Day 3 | Hanle – Tso Moriri via Mahe OR Chumur (if
permits army allow you to travel)
- Cover Korzok Monastery
- Overnight at Tso Moriri
Day 4 | Tso Moriri – Tso Kar – Debring – Taglang La – Rumste – Upshi – Karu – Leh
- Cover Tso Kar Lake and Taglang La (some part of Manali – Leh Highway)
- Overnight at Leh
You can also check the most common and very well-balanced itinerary for the Ladakh region covering all major tourist destinations including Srinagar Leh Highway and Manali Leh Highway.
Accommodation Options at Hanle
The homestays at village Khaldo are very very close to the observatory. One is near the start of the village and has a landline phone. Ask people about the homestay which has a phone. The rooms are decent, but the prices are hay-way as the owner.
There is one more homestay or guest house at the end of this village just before where the pasture land starts. It is run by a lady and is named Padmadeskit Homestay or Sonam Guest House (ask for this name). In all my three visits to Hanle so far, I have stayed with Sonam j, and is one of the best places to stay in Hanle with western toilets and attached bathrooms.
The guest house at Hanle monastery has also started renting rooms. So, you can check there as well. In case, Sonam does not have availability; you can ask him to book rooms at the monastery as well.
Update 2015: Sonam Guest House in Hanle or Padma Homestay in Hanle (old name) has been converted into a kind of decent guest house in 2013 and when I visited there in September 2015, there were 4-5 rooms there with a couple of rooms having attached bath and others sharing a common bath. A big room for dining. You can read my detailed review at the link Sonam Guest House Hanle.
Contact Details of Sonam Homestay Hanle
- Contact Person: Mr. Sonam Dorjay
- Contact Number: 09469224302, 09419834944, 08991922029,
- Email: [email protected], [email protected]
- Location: Hanle, Khaldo
Apart from this, you can stay at Milky Way Homestay or another recommended one Namdruk Homestay in Hanle by contacting +91-9419309751.
Visit Hanle to Umling La Pass
Umling La Pass is about 73 km from Hanle Village via Photila Pass and about 88 km via Ukdungle village route.
Starting in 2018, no civilians are allowed to visit Umling La pass. Even to visit Hanle village, you need to have a special stamp from the DC office or Tourist information center in Leh. Again as of 2022, permits are not required for domestic tourists to travel anywhere in Ladakh including the Umling La Pass.
Towards the end of the 2021 season, authorities/army check-posts did allow a few people to travel to Umling La pass. As of June 2022, a lot of people have already visited Umling La pass and hence, it seems like there is no restriction on visiting it and you should be able to visit Umling La pass on your next visit to Ladakh or Hanle.
However, just for your knowledge, the route you can take is Hanle to Photi La Pass to Photile Village and then follow the route from Photile Village to Chisumle Bridge to Umlinga La Pass for about 73 km in total at an altitude of 19024 feet.
You will come across two bridges/water crossings while going to Umlingla Pass from Photile Village. There is another route from Ukdungle – Nurbula Top village as well, but it is more of a dirt track up to Nurbula Top and after that very good route. This latter route is much shorter and can be done in like 6 hrs of a round trip to Umling La pass from Hanle.
You can get basic first aid including Oxygen doses at some of the army settlements in case of emergency but it will be better to carry your own oxygen cylinder from Leh, especially in case you are visiting early in your itinerary.
There is a local pharmacy in Hanle village but do not expect any major assistance. Even in Rhongo village, there is a local medical pharmacy.
Being a remote place, you will be eating in the homestays or guesthouses in which you will be staying overnight in this village. Do not expect any restaurants or eating joints at this place. I recommend that you pack your food for the next day’s journey.
You should always carry your water bottle and refill it as many times as you need water. It will not only keep you hydrated always, but you will also help in saving the Himalayas from plastic garbage. Remember, every tiny step counts and your step in this direction can help save the Himalayas too !! 🙂 🙂
BSNL phone tower has been put up in Hanle, and at times, the phone connectivity is present in the village. However, do not rely much on it. There is one public satellite phone installed at a house in Khaldo village in Hanle. The home with a phone also offers homestay accommodation.
Nyoma village also has good phone connectivity these days.
The nearest Petrol Pump is at Karu (about 240 km) from Hanle and comes on the way from Leh via Chumathang / Mahe Bridge. I will suggest that you top up the fuel from Leh / Karu itself and then drive/ride up to Hanle.
You will find some black fuel in Hanle but it is not recommended to rely upon it.
You will not find any ATMs near Hanle and hence, it is always better to carry sufficient cash from Leh (the only place where you find ATMs in Ladakh) itself. But as of 2022, Nyoma also has an ATM operational that you can use. But, I will still recommend that you carry enough cash from Leh.
It is one of the most beautiful places in the whole trans-Himalayas, I will say, to visit. Hence, if it is your maybe second or third visit to Ladakh and you are keen on finding some secluded place with a different feeling and aura, then this one surely is not the place you would like to exclude from your Ladakh trip plan. I hope the above information will be useful for your upcoming Leh Ladakh trip.
Please feel free to post any questions or doubts you might have in planning your trip to Hanle in the comments section below. If you have been to Hanle before, kindly share your thoughts and other information you might feel will be worth sharing with other fellow travelers and will prove helpful to them.
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