‘Hanle’ documentary to promote astro tourism in Ladakh

‘Hanle: India’s First Dark Sky Reserve’, a documentary about India’s only upcoming dark sky reserve in the trans-Himalayan region of Ladakh, was premiered on YouTube on Thursday.

Located near Hanle at an altitude of 4,500 metres, the Hanley Dark Sky Reserve (HDSR) is a collaboration between UT Ladakh, Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC) Leh, and Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA), Bengaluru and has been set up with an aim to preserve its dark skies as heritage.

This is especially important as light pollution has an adverse impact on biodiversity and even in remotest places across Ladakh, the high beam lights of the moving vehicles impact the visibility near the Observatory.

“This (HDSR) will aid astronomy research & even promote astrotourism and education in the region,” said a scientist from IIA.

HDSR has been identified as a 1,000 sq kms area around the Hanle observatory, one of the promising astronomical sites globally. “The advantages of more clear nights, minimal light pollution, background aerosol concentration, extremely dry atmospheric condition, and no interruption by monsoon are amongst,” pointed out Dorje Angchuk, engineer at the Indian Astronomical Observatory (IAO).

In fact, absence of monsoon clouds from the region was one of the reasons to establish this Observatory here as the functioning of other Observatories in south India is marred by the rainfall and clouds, said Annapurni Subramaniam, director IIA, in the film.

Earlier last week, a tripartite MoU was signed between the Ladakh Administration, Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council and the Indian Institute of Astrophysics, Bengaluru for setting up the Hanle Dark Sky Reserve as a part of the Changthang Wildlife Sanctuary.

At that time, Ladakh’ Lt Governor R K Mathur had said that the HDSR would not only cater to the needs of the scientific community but will also contribute to the economic development of the region through astro tourism and eco tourism.

Annapurni had then tweeted: “First time in the country that all stake holders (community, administration, scientists) coming together to declare a certain area as #HDSR. Looking forward to working together with all including #ARMY – sustainable development, economy, education and tourism for remote areas.”

Rakesh Rao, a filmmaker & a photographer, who communicates science through the visual mediums of photos and videos, has directed the film, for which he himself did cinematography and editing too.

The film is available on the YouTube channel of IIA, Bengaluru.

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