Ladakh is a high altitude dessert mountain situated in the state of Jammu & Kashmir that extends from the Kunlun mountain range to the main Himalayas to the south. The famous Rohtang pass is the gateway to Leh (which is the capital of Ladakh) through the Spiti- Lahaul Valley of Himachal Pradesh.
Ladakh which means “The land of high Passes” is a thinly populated part of Jammu & Kashmir but quite a popular tourist destination and it is among the top holiday destinations of India. Since past decade, Ladakh is able to attract a huge number of domestic and foreign tourists towards its wide range of natural and man-made tourist attraction.
Being close to international borders, there are few locations in Ladakh which have been recognized as a Protected Area by the Indian Government. Such area requires a special permission (especially for the foreign visitors) from the Ministry of Home Affairs which is known as the Protected Area Permit (PAP).
What is a Protected Area Permit?
According to the Foreigners (Protected Areas) Order 1958, for every non-citizen of India, it is absolutely mandatory to obtain a Protected Area Permit (PAP) in order to visit a certain location/ area of the country that are sensitive due to security reasons especially being near to LOC and international borders.
Ladakh Protected Area Permit, or PAP, is a document/pass issued by the government for foreign tourists to visit certain places in Ladakh of Jammu & Kasmir. It is a permit that allows the foreign visitors to enter the restricted areas for a limited period of time. Places which are located near LOC (Pakistan) & LAC (China) require the civilians to acquire this permit in order to visit.
All the Indian citizens who are not the resident in these areas need an Inner Line Permit (ILP) to enter these recognized locations and all the Foreign tourists are need a Protected Area Permit.
Also, as per the instruction contained in Chapter 18 of the Visa Manual para 18.1. (4), “no foreigner except a citizen of Bhutan can enter or stay in the protected areas of the State without obtaining a permit from the Ministry of Home Affairs and District Magistrate, Leh.
However, groups consisting of two or more persons sponsored by a recognized travel agent and to be accompanied by an authorized representative of a recognized travel agent who would act as the escort to the group, with a pre-drawn itinerary, can be allowed to visit the following places on identified tour circuits by the Ministry of Home Affairs and District Magistrate, Leh.
Places that require PAP:
Following are the Protected Areas in Ladakh region that requires PAP for tourism:
- Khaltsi Sub Division (Drokpa Area) Khaltsi-Domkhar-Skurbuchan-Hanudo-Baima-Dha.
- Nubra Sub Division a) Leh-Kahrdungla-Khalsar-Tirit to Panamik. b) Leh-Khardungla-Khalsar-Hunder-Turtuk-Pachathang -Tyakshi. c) Leh-Saboo-Digarla-Digar Labab-Khungru Gompa-Tangyar (Only for trekking)
- Nyoma Sub Division a) Leh-Upshi-Chumathang-Mahey-Puga-Tsomoriri Lake/ Korzok. b) Leh-Upshi-Chumathang-Mahey up to Loma Bend c) Leh-Upshi-Debring-Puga-Tsomoriri Lake/Korzok. d) Leh-Kharu-Changla-Durbuk-Lukung-Spangmik – Man-Merak ( Pangong Lake)
Some routes in the Kargil / Batalik sectors have also been opened for foreigners which include Kargil to Leh via Khangral – Shaker – Chiktan and Dah to Kargil along Darchik – Batalik – Slimo. There is no need of any permit in order to visit Suru and Zanskar Valley, south of Kargil.
Note: Apart from Jammu & Kashmir PAP permit is also applicable to few areas in Arunachal Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Manipur, Lakshadweep Islands, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, Uttaranchal & Rajasthan.
The Validity of PAP:
As the PAP has been regularised solely due to the security reasons of the highly sensitive areas of India, hence for the foreign tourists, the permit is only valid for seven days. Even if they want to explore all the places described in the above-mentioned sun divisions, the permit cannot exceed more than seven days.
After 7 days, if you wish to stay back and visit more places, you will need to re-apply for PAP.
How to obtain Ladakh Protected Area Permit Online:
The Protected Area Permit can be obtained through both online and offline mode. Though the offline mode of obtaining the permit was the known way, the online mode is more convenient and easy is now the popular way of obtaining the permit. Following are the steps for obtaining the PAP online:
- First, visit the Leh District Permit Tracking System of J&K Government portal http://lahdclehpermit.in. After entering the URL, and the webpage will load. At the bottom of the screen, click on the half circle that reads “Issue”. A fly menu will appear from where you will have to click on “Overseas Clients”.
- This will take you to another page which will require you to fill out your basic details under the heading “ Details of Foreign Tourist’. Mention your name, nationality, passport number, visa details, your gender, address, date of arrival etc. Also don’t forget to choose your agent carefully, as once the request is submitted, it cannot be changed.
- After filling in the above, review the entire information once more and click the Submit button. A fly out which will appear on the screen will tell you that you have been successfully registered. Click “Ok”.
- After you have done that, you will be taken to the next page where you will be required to select the areas that you need a PAP for. At the bottom of the screen, select your date of arrival in Leh as well as the date of departure. Then click on the” apply for Permit” button.
- A new fly out will pop up on the screen informing you that the circuit has been assigned successfully. Click OK.
- A new pop up which reads “Inserted Successfully” will appear on the screen. Click OK.
- After you have done that, you will be taken to another page which will contain the details of your permit. The page will mention your name, ID number, different fee-related structures etc.
- You can now take a print out of this page.
Note: There is no online payment option for PAP permit as of now and in order to make the payment and get your permit duly signed and stamped, you need to take the print out of the application form along with at least 3 copies of it to the District Magistrate office(contact details at the end of the article).
How to Obtain Ladakh Protected Area Permit Offline:
While applying for the entry visa in order to visit India, the Foreign nationals can apply for PAP through the Indian Missions in their country itself. Foreign nationals can also apply for PAP directly from the Rehabilitation Section, Ministry of Home Affairs, NDCC Building II, Jai Singh Road, Opposite Jantar Mantar, New Delhi 110 001. Alternatively, the foreign nationals can route their application for Protected Area Permit through this Bureau.
Permits can also be obtained in 1 working day from the District Magistrate Office from Leh (Open 9 am to 5 pm. Forms are accepted till 3 pm).
You can take the print of the application form from here: https://www.immihelp.com/nri/protected-area-permit-form.pdf
- Tourists have to travel in groups with a minimum size of 4-20 members. Groups are permitted to travel in the identified tour circuits only.
- Trekking in restricted areas must be conducted by a registered travel agent and accompanied by State Police personnel
- Citizens of Pakistan, Bangladesh, China, and Myanmar can get the PAP only with the approval of the Ministry of Home Affairs
Documents Required for PAP:
- 3 copies of Filled-in Restricted Area Application Form (Duly filled and signed)
- 2 Copies of the applicant’s valid Passport (for Foreign Nationals).
- Photocopy of valid Indian visa for Foreign Nationals
- Passport size photo
- A Recommendation or a Supporting Letter from the Tibetan Settlement Officer (Settlement where you are planning to visit) or from the Administrator of the Monastery (you wish to visit)*
*All above-mentioned documents are required to be sent to the email: [email protected] or through Postal on the below address for getting the supporting letter from Bureau of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, New Delhi.
Address: The Secretary, Bureau of His Holiness the Dalai Lama
10B, Ring Road, Lajpat Nagar IV, New Delhi 110024
Ladakh Protected Area Permit Inquiry/Contact Details:
For any query, please go through the FAQs for the PAP or RAP (Restricted Area Permit) available on the official website of MHA at http://mha1.nic.in/foreigDiv/PAP.html.
OR Contact the Ministry of Home Affairs at:
Ms. Saheli Ghosh Roy
Ministry of Home Affairs
North Block, New Delhi – 110001
Email: [email protected]
OR Contact the office of District Magistrate, Leh at:
Deputy Commissioner / District Magistrate/Chief Executive Officer,
LAHDC, Leh Ladakh – 194101, Jammu & Kashmir
E-Mail: [email protected]