Turtuk, Batalik becoming favourite tourist destinations31 May 2010
The Daily Excelsior
JAMMU: Over six months after Union Government lifting restrictions, four destinations of Ladakh region including Turtuk and Batlik, which attracted worldwide attention following Kargil war, have started becoming favourite destination of domestic as well as foreign tourists and in view of this, the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC), Leh has started laying focus on creation of infrastructure to meet the requirement of tourists. Notwithstanding the fact that peak tourism season in Ladakh region particularly in Leh district was yet to began, the domestic as well as foreign tourists have already started visiting all the four places which were opened up on the instructions of Government of India in November last year, official sources told the EXCELSIOR. These four places are Turtuk in Nubra Block, Lomabend in Nyoma Block, Manmerk in Durbok Block and Batlik Sector, which is accessible from both Leh and Kargil districts. Before lifting of restrictions, the tourists were not allowed to visit Turtuk and Batlik while as they were permitted to visit Mahey bridge in Nyoma block and Spanwik in Durbok block. 'Till now, the number of domestic tourists visiting these areas is more as compared to foreign tourists but the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC) is expecting more foreigners to visit these places particularly Turtuk and Batlik after the start of peak tourism season from July', sources said. When contacted, Chief Executive Councillor (CEC) of the LAHDC Leh, Chering Dorje confirmed that following lifting of restrictions, all the four places have started becoming favorite destination for domestic as well as foreign tourists, adding 'keeping in view the fact that foreigners were keen to visit these areas even before lifting of restrictions, we are hopeful of registering record visit of tourists to these places during the peak season'. Since arrival of tourists will help improve the economic condition of inhabitants of these places, the Council has started educating people about the home stay scheme under which they get financial assistance of up to Rs one lakh for converting some portion of their residence to provide accommodation to visiting tourists, he said. 'We are also going to spend Rs 5 crore sanctioned under 13th Finance Commission award for eco-tourism by involving Tourism as well as Wildlife Departments so that adequate facilities are made available for the tourists', he informed. In response to a question, Mr Dorje said, 'we have decided to approach Union Government once again for lifting restrictions on more areas', adding 'there are so many areas particularly in Nyoma and Durbok blocks which can contribute in further promotion of tourism in the district if restrictions are lifted'. 'We are also in the favour of lifting restriction on visit to Siachen belt where at present tourists can visit up to only Panamik. Even Anley, where Indian Astro Physics Institute’s remote controlled observatory is situated, can be opened up for the domestic as well as foreign tourists', the Chief Executive Councillor said.