Hanle Village, Changthang Valley – Ladakh
Hanle in Changthang region of Ladakh is one of the most beautiful, enchanting, calm and soul loosing places in India. Hanle has a lovely Hanle Monastery offering some great aerial views of whole village that is a home of about 1000 people. The views from the top of 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 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.
Hanle Village… An Aerial View…
Hanle is about 150 KMs from Mahe and the road runs through Nyoma and then Loma, where you need to pass the bridge on 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 like 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 need to get Inner Line Permit to visit it. You can get more details on Inner Line Permits at the link: Inner Line Permits for Leh – Ladakh
The place is actually 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 is only one cemented accommodation available around the lake and the facilities like electricity, medical aid, hot running water, western toilets etc. are rare to find. The lack of oxygen makes survival difficult if your body is not properly acclimatized to its high altitude. Hence, one need to plan his/her journey extremely carefully to make it acute mountain sickness free vacation.
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)…
Season for Traveling to Hanle – Ladakh
In December to March, Hanle remains mostly frozen, extremely cold conditions with only options to stay as homestays that may not be as convenient option for you. In April types, it starts to get a bit warm and one can afford to sleep even in home stays, I did the same :)… Then, May to September it is a very pleasant season to visit Hanle and a lot of tourist visit this place now. Come October and November, the tourists starts to reside completely as cold starts to set in again and you start to again feel a bit uncomfortable at Homestays but it is still manageable.
How to Reach Hanle – Ladakh
Route from Leh to Hanle
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 break you take in between. The route along with 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 Thicksey, 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 among all other routes. So, if you are one of those who prefer relaxing vacation and do not want to rush through places then, I will suggest make a 3 day trip to Hanle via this route from Leh. Of course, I assume your body has been acclimatized properly by staying for couple of nights in Leh and spending a night or two in Nubra Valley as well before attempting to sleep in 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 KMs 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 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 is higher than Pangong Tso so as per acclimatization schedule you should stay near Pangong Tso before spending night at Hanle and Tso Moriri. However, all depends subject to the approval of permits for this route via Chusul. Foreigners anyhow 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 go towards 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 Chummur 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.
The higher ground clearance vehicles are preferable and 4×4 ones would definitely be helpful especially between Pangong Tso and Tso Moriri via Man – Merak – Chusul – Nyoma (Changthang) route AND Tso Moriri to Hanle via Chumur. However, for 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.
Suggested Itinerary for Hanle – Ladakh
Generally, at least two night stay is preferable to truly witness the mesmerizing beauty and vistas at Hanle including the night sky watch. 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 prefer like:
Day 1 | Leh – Upshi – Chumathang – Nyoma – Loma – Hanle
- Cover Landscapes eroute
- Overnight at Hanle
Day 2 | Hanle
- Cover Hanle Monastery and Hanle Observatory
- A leisure walks in the pasture lands of Hanle
- 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 whole Leh – Ladakh region covering all major tourist destination including Srinagar – Leh Highway and Manali – Leh Highway, at the below link: Most Common Itinerary for Leh – Ladakh
Accommodation Options at Hanle – Ladakh
The homestays at village Khaldo very very close to observatory. One is near the start of the village and has a landline phone. Ask people about homestay which has phone. The rooms are decent but the prices are hay-way as the owner is greedy types. There is one more homestay at the end of this village just before pasture land starts which is run by a lady named Padmadeskit Homestay (ask for this name). We stayed at this only and found it OK to stay. Do not expect too much out of a homestay. This one is more loyal to tourists as other one charge too much if he sees more tourists.
Update 2013: Padma Homestay in Hanle has been converted into a kind of decent guest house in 2013 and when I visited there in September 2013, 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 review here in the DoW Community link: Padma (Sonam’s) Guest House/Homestay, Hanle | Review
Contact Details of Padma Homestay Hanle – Ladakh
- Contact Person: Mr. Sonam Dorjay
- Attributes: 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: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
- Location: Hanle, Khaldo
Visit Umling La Pass from Hanle
Umling La pass is about 105 KMs from Hanle Village. If you have a permit to visit Hanle, then there is no extra permit required and if you are coming from Koyul side then you need to have a permit for passing Koyul as well. Refer DoW Maps for Hanle and Koyul routes: DoW – Maps of Ladakh | Nubra Valley & Changthang
The route you can take is Hanle to Photi La Pass to Photile Village (57 KMs) 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 all the way except few KMs.
Medical Facilities near Hanle – Ladakh
Food Joints near Hanle – Ladakh
Being a remote place, you will either be eating in the home stay or at Hanle observatory guest house in which you might be staying overnight if you get the bookings.
Phone Signals at Hanle – Ladakh
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 satellite public phone installed at a house in Khaldo village in Hanle. The home with a phone also offers homestay accommodation.
Petrol Pumps near Hanle – Ladakh
Nearest Petrol Pump is at Karu (about 240 KMs) from Hanle and comes on the way to Hanle 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.
ATMs near Hanle – Ladakh
You will not find any ATMs near Hanle and hence, it is always better to carry 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 may be second or third visit to Ladakh and you are keen of 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 plan. I hope the above information will be useful for your upcoming Leh – Ladakh trip.
Please feel free to post any queries or doubts you might have in planning your trip to Leh – Ladakh or 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.