Hanle in the Changthang region of Ladakh is one of the most beautiful, enchanting, calm, and soul losing places in India. Hanle has a lovely Hanle Monastery offering some great aerial views of the whole village that is a home of about 1000 people.
The views from the top of the monastery are just breath-taking. 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 currently the second-highest optical observatory in the world, with an installed telescope of about 2.01 meters (6.5 feet) diameter.
Let's quickly dive into the details:
Hanle Village – The Hidden Gem of Ladakh
Hanle is about 97 KMs 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 KMs ahead of Loma.
Hats off to BRO, that they have created such smooth roads in the cold desert at such high altitude 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 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 to permit online and you need to get a special stamp from DC office or Tourist Information Center in Leh.
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 winters. There are only a few accommodations available in the village and the facilities like electricity, medical aid, hot running water, western toilets, etc. are luxury in itself.
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 275 KMs from Leh town of Ladakh district.
Hanle village is one of the high altitudes villages in Ladakh at a staggering altitude close to 4300 Meters (not sure about actual).
Best Time for Travel
In December to March, Hanle remains mostly frozen, extremely cold conditions with only options 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 in May to September, it is a very pleasant season to visit Hanle and a lot of tourists visit this place now. Hence, it is the best time to visit.
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 KMs) – Upshi (13 KMs) – Kumdok (19 KMs) – Kere (53 KMs) – Chumathang (34 KMs) – Mahe (22 KMs) – Nyoma (25 KMs) – Loma (22 KMs) – Hanle(51 KMs) = 275 KMs
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 towards 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 exist 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 to the approval of permits for this route via Chusul.
Foreigners are not at all allowed to go beyond Man – Merak Villages as permits are not issued to them for this route.
Spangmik (Pangong Tso) – Man (9 KMs) – Merak (12 KMs)– Kakstet (4 KMs) – Chusul (24 KMs) – Tsaga La (33 KMs) – Tsaga Village (20 KMs) – Loma (23 KMs) – Hanle(51 KMs) = 176 KMs
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 other via Chumur. Below is the route which you can follow to reach Tso Moriri from Hanle via Mahe bridge:
Hanle – Loma (51 KMs) – Nyoma (22 KMs) – Mahe (25 KMs) – Sumdo (10 KMs) – Tso Moriri / Korzok (53 KMs) = 161 KMs
The other route goes via Chumur whose permits are hard to come by but if you are able to get them then nothing gets better and adventurous on your Ladakh journey. Below is the route which you can follow to reach Tso Moriri from Hanle via Chumur village:
Hanle – Salsal La (62 KMs) – Charchagan La (23 KMs) – Tso Moriri / Korzok (60 KMs) = 145 KMs
You need to make sure you carry fuel for about 700 – 800 KMs 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 KMs as the next petrol pump will be available at Tandi. Otherwise, you need to come back to Karu or Upshi, refill and move back again towards Manali – Leh Highway.
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 492. 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 especially between Pangong Tso to Tso Moriri via Man – Merak – Chusul – Nyoma (Changthang) route AND Tso Moriri to Hanle via Chumur.
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.
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 in 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 allowed)
- 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 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 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 only 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: Padma Homestay in Hanle has been converted into a kind of decent guest house in 2013 and when I visited there in September 2013 and 2015, there were 4-5 rooms there with one room having attached bath and others sharing a common bath. A big room for dining. You can read my detailed review at Sonam Guest House Hanle
Contact Details of Sonam Homestay Hanle
- Contact Person: Mr. Sonam Dorjay
- Attributes: A very good friend of mine, knows DoW and its vision very well, very down to earth local ready to support & help other locals of the village
- Contact Number: 09469224302, 09419834944, 08991922029,
- Email: [email protected], [email protected]
- Location: Hanle, Khaldo
Visit Hanle to Umling La Pass
Umling La pass is about 105 KMs from Hanle Village. 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.
However, just for knowledge, the route to you can take is Hanle to Photi La Pass to Photile Village (57 km) and then follow the route from Photile Village to Umlinga La pass for about 50 KMs at an altitude of 19300 feet.
You will come across two bridges/ water crossings while going to Umlingla Pass from Photile Village. There is another route from Ukdungle village as well, but it is more of a dirt track only except a few KMs.
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 at Rhongo village, there is a local medical pharmacy.
Being a remote place, you will be eating in the homestays or guesthouse 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 own 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.
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 ATM in Ladakh) itself.
It is one of the most beautiful places in the whole trans-Himalayas, I will say, to visit. Hence, if it is your maybe a 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.
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