Siachen Glacier will be the main tourist attraction in Ladakh very soon as the Government of India has announced to allow tourist movement till Siachen base up to Kumar Post (Kumar Camp). The Indian Army was recommending opening Siachen area for tourists for a long time and finally, the official announcement was made by the defence minister Rajnath Singh on October 21, 2019. No wonder, you will soon travel agencies offering Siachen Glacier Tour Packages.
However, tourists will have to wait for a few more days until the Army and Leh (Ladakh) administration comes up with the final strategic plan to handle the tourists in this area deep inside Nubra valley. Once notification is issued to allow tourists, all the travel agencies will be selling Siachen Glacier tour packages which are likely to sell like hot cakes. Siachen has been a mystery for the people for decades and everybody wants to visit it once in the lifetime. After Pangong Lake, Khardungla, Tso Moriri and Hunder, Siachen Glacier is going to be a major tourist attraction of Ladakh.
The tourists – both Indian and foreigners – are required to obtain protected area permit or inner line permit to visit Khardungla pass and Nubra valley. The authorities were mulling separate permit to visit Siachen Glacier base. Similar to other strategically important regions of Ladakh, residents of Pakistan, China, Bangladesh, Afghanistan will have to obtain prior permission from Ministry of External Affairs, Delhi, to visit Siachen area.
Most of the people are still confused about the location, geography and weather conditions at Siachen. The 76km-long Siachen is the largest glacier in the Karakoram mountain range of Himalayas. Siachen is the second largest glacier in the world outside the polar region. The terminus (lowest point) of the glacier is at an altitude of about 3,640m (11,940ft) while its highest point is at about 5,750m (18,860ft) above mean sea level. The temperature at Siachen may dip as low as –50 (minus 50) degrees Celsius.
Siachen base is about 215km from Leh and 62km from Panamik. Tourists can reach Siachen base from Leh in one day. Leh to Panamik is about 6 hours journey. From Panamik, it takes around two more hours to reach Siachen base which is the source of the Nubra river.
Tourists coming from Leh can stay at Hunder or Diskit (sightseeing of Diskit monastery and Hunder Sand Dunes is also possible on the same day) on the first day and can visit Siachen base on second day. As there is no hotel or camp near Siachen glacier, tourists can come to Panamik or Sumur (or nearby villages) for the night stay along after visiting Natural Hot Water Springs at Panamik and Samstanling monastery (gompa) at Sumur. On the third day, tourists can come back to Leh via Khardungla pass or can move to Pangong Lake via Shyok. If Turtuk village is in your itinerary, you need to have one additional day in the Nubra valley. Siachen glacier tour packages can include visit to entire Nubra valley beside Pangong Lake, Tso Moriri Lake and many monasteries in different regions of Ladakh.
Ladakh has tremendous potential in Tourism. Better connectivity in Ladakh would certainly bring tourists in large numbers.
The Siachen area is now open for tourists and Tourism. From Siachen Base Camp to Kumar Post, the entire area has been opened for Tourism purposes.
— Rajnath Singh (@rajnathsingh) October 21, 2019
Although defence minister said the Siachen Glacier would be opened to tourists till Kumar Camp (Kumar Post) but climbing to Kumar post will not be possible for all the tourists until you are physically fit and have ice climbing experience. Civilians, and even soldiers, are not allowed to climb to Kumar Post unless they undergo proper acclimatization, health check-up and basic training in climbing. So, most of the tourists would be visiting base of the Siachen glacier and can see the huge glacier emerging from horizon and the towering mountain range all around. Tourists can see how our soldiers undergo a difficult training in the glacier.
Main highlights of Siachen Glacier
- Siachen glacier base is 215km from Leh.
- The altitude of Siachen base is about 11,900ft.
- Siachen glacier is in the Karakoram range of the Himalayas.
- Measuring 76km in length, Siachen is the longest glacier in the Karakoram range.
- The Line of Control between India and Pakistan ends near Siachen glacier.
- The maximum altitude of Siachen glacier is about 5,750m or 18,860ft.
- The lowest altitude of Siachen glacier (glacier terminus) is at 3,640m or 11,940ft.
- Siachen glacier is known as the highest battlefield of the world.
- The minimum temperature at Siachen glacier may dip as low as (minus) –50 degrees Celsius.
- A battle school and a war memorial are built at the Siachen base.
- Famous OP Baba shrine is at the Siachen base.
- The Indira Col is the northernmost point of the India-controlled Siachen Glacier where territories controlled by India, Pakistan and China meet.
Things to see at Siachen Glacier
The main tourist attraction at Siachen base is OP Baba shrine, a temple dedicated to an Indian Army soldier Om Prakash who died in the line of duty somewhere in Siachen. Be it soldier or official, all report to the OP Baba shrine before or after their duty. The temple is not linked to any particular religion but symbolizes the faith in almighty and patriotism. The 76 KM long glacier which extends up to an altitude of 18,860ft and the Nubra river are other attractions.
Siachen War Memorial built in the memory of Siachen martyrs is a new attraction. Visiting Army base camp, the Siachen Battle School, the puja at OP Baba temple, soldiers undergoing training at the glacier are the things to do at Siachen Glacier. With a few small villages dotted across the valley, the road to Siachen is mostly deserted but extremely scenic. The Nubra river flows along the road. The valley is mostly wide, offering a beautiful view of snow-capped mountains and hanging glaciers.
OP Baba Shrine (Temple)
Named after a soldier Om Prakash, OP Baba shrine (or OP Baba Sarva Dharma Sthal) is actually his temple where soldiers worship him. Soldiers believe OP Baba protects them from all the odds including enemy and extreme weather conditions. Soldier Om Prakash is believed to have been posted here in 1980s and disappeared in the snows and ice. Many soldiers reported that they saw OP at Siachen. Soldiers say that OP is still present in the area to help the soldiers. The soldiers who are posted at Siachen first report at OP Baba Shrine. They also report to OP Baba after coming back from the Siachen. They worship him and pray for their safety. Baba (saint) was added after OP (Om Prakash) after many incidents of he helping other soldiers. With the mantra of “Selfless Service”, a shrine dedicated to OP Baba was constructed in 1996. As Army follows the secular tradition, the shrine was renovated and renamed as OP Baba Sarva Dharma Sthal in 2003. OP Baba Shrine will be the must-visit part of Siachen glacier tour packages to Ladakh.
How to reach Siachen Glacier
Siachen glacier is about 215 KM from Leh and 175 KM from Khardungla pass. Take 90 degree right turn from a diversion after Khalsar (about 10km before Diskit). Cross the Shyok river over they bailey bridge (known as the Siachen Bridge) and keep moving towards the north. After driving for 5km, you will see the confluence of Nubra and Tserap rivers. Now keep moving towards the source of the Nubra river. Sumur and Panamik are the major villages enroute.
The road map to Siachen is as follows
Leh – Khardungla pass – Khalsar –Siachen Bridge – Terith – Lakzung – Sumur – Tiggur – Tiricha – Panamik – Taksha – Sasoma – Changlul – Henache – Stongstet – Warshi – OP Baba – Siachen Glacier
Distance of Siachen Base from
Leh: 204 KM
Khardungla pass: 164 KM
Siachen Bridge: 110 KM
Sumur: 90 KM
Panamik: 62 KM
Sasoma: 43 KM
Health requirement to visit Siachen
If you are in Ladakh and are planning to visit Siachen Base, you need not worry about anything as the altitude of the area is less than 12,000ft, which is similar to that of Leh. People suffering from Asthma or any breathing and heart-related disease should not risk their lives and should consult the doctor before visiting Ladakh. High altitude and dry air of Ladakh may take a toll on those who are suffering from serious diseases. Avoid alcohol and drink enough water while in Ladakh. Please note that hard drinks and smoking are banned in most of the villages of Ladakh.
Siachen Glacier Tour Packages
Note: Siachen is both ecologically and strategically sensitive area. Be responsible. Bring your waste back with you and respect the Indian Army.
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