Global Himalayan Expedition (GHE) is an organization based in Ladakh, India providing clean energy and education access to remote off-grid communities in Himalayas. Electricity has acted as a powerful tool to stimulate economic empowerment and create new streams of revenue generation for this region.
With a vision to leverage astronomy as a key development intervention in Ladakh, GHE’s new initiative – Astronomy for Himalayan Livelihood Creation (AHLC) with support from International Astronomical Union – Office of Astronomy for development (IAU-OAD) aims to stimulate economic growth for these remote villages in a sustainable and scalable manner by creating Astro-homestays.
In Phase-1 of AHLC, 30 women from 15 different villages of Ladakh were selected for an astronomy workshop in June this year and trained on basics of astronomy and know-how of operating Dobsonian telescopes. Ladakh’s first Astro-homestay has been setup near Pangong lake in the village of Maan where a team of 5 trained community members use their astronomy skills to conduct night sky watching sessions for the incoming tourists. The telescope facility has attracted a lot of tourists in the region and created a new economic opportunity for the community. Till date over 680 people have visited the facility in the last three months since the installation, earning more than USD 1410 for the local community.
A second telescope has been installed in the city of Leh and hosted by PAGIR – an organization working with specially-abled people of Ladakh for their capacity building and inclusion into mainstream. GHE has partnered with PAGIR to promote inclusive Astro-tourism – PAGIR’s 5 member team trained on astronomy and telescope operations are now conducting night viewing sessions for the tourists creating a new channel of revenue generation for the organization.