Amid the coronavirus pandemic and ongoing tension along the international border with China that cuts through the region, the Ladakh administration has reopened the famous Pangong Tso Lake for tourists from January 10. The areas reopening for tourism are not located near the flash points between India and China.
Ladakh parliamentarian Jamyang Tsering Namgyal shared the information on Twitter with a link to the district's permit tracking system where one can apply for the Inner Line Permit - an official travel document compulsory to visit "restricted areas", including Pangong Tso.
To "visit all destinations without any restrictions" tourists must carry COVID-19 negative test report no older than 72 hours, and comply by 7-day compulsory quarantine for which they must book a hotel, the website states.
Famouse Pangong Lake in Ladakh has been reopened for tourists from 10th January 2021.— Jamyang Tsering Namgyal (@jtnladakh) January 13, 2021
Tourists intending to visit Pangong Lake should apply online for Inner Line Permit (ILP) this link: https://t.co/47OMJYhdX8
Pangong Tso Lake is a key tourist attraction and one of the multiple flash points between India and China in eastern Ladakh.
The step to resume tourism comes as a major relief for locals, many of whom primarily depend on tourism for their livelihood that has been hit hard by the coronavirus induced lockdown, the pandemic itself and the ongoing stand-off between India and China.
Since March last year both countries have increased their troop deployment and efforts to build infrastructure in the high-altitude region. Cross-border tension in eastern Ladakh peaked in June 2020 in a clash that left 20 Indian soldiers dead and an unspecified number of Chinese casualties.
Several rounds of talks have failed to significantly ease tensions, and a large number of soldiers continue to stand guard on both banks of Pangong Tso - the south in India and north in China.
Most recently, a Chinese soldier had crossed into India near the lake and was repatriated. This was the second such case of a Chinese soldier straying across the Line of Actual Control (LAC) since October last year.
The Union Territory of Ladakh has a total Covid caseload of about 9,600 with 127 deaths.