No need of permit for foreigners in Harsil – and Nellong valley with permission

Foreign tourists will now be able to take a night halt in Uttarkashi’s Harsil and even travel up to the Nelong valley as the Ministry of Home affairs has declared Harsil free from requirement of inner line permits for foreigners and for the first time opened the Nelong valley for both domestic and foreign tourists through a permit.
After the 1962 war with China, both Harsil and Nelong valley were declared sensitive areas by the Ministry of Home Affairs.
Harsil was off the radar of foreign tourists as they required permits and could not stay there overnight. But the domestic tourists did not require inner line permits to do so.
The picturesque Nelong valley was completely out of bounds for both foreign and domestic tourists. Now, both foreign and local tourists will be allowed to visit the valley with permissions for a day.
“On June 19 this year, the Ministry of Home affairs issued a notification declaring Harsil free of requirement of inner line permit for foreign tourists and also opened up the Nelong valley for tourists by giving permission for a single-window system. This will boost tourism in the state,” said Satpal Maharaj, state Tourism Minister.
The notification of the Ministry of Home Affairs says, “It has been decided to shift the notified protected area and to lift the inner line permit from Harsil town towards the border by 50 m to facilitate the stay of foreign/domestic tourists.”
However, the district administration will have to take the consent of military authorities for allowing tourists.
“The tourists will no longer have to take multiple permissions to visit the Nelong valley as a single-window system will be set up for them,” said Lokender Bisht, a resident of Uttarkashi, who launched the initiative.
In May 2016, he, along with local residents, petitioned the Uttarakhand Governor KK Paul to take up the matter and finally, the state government moved the files to the Ministry of Home Affairs.
“In June 2016, we also took up the matter with Central ministers in New Delhi and finally, the notification was issued this year,” said Bisht. The lifting of the inner line in Harsil is likely to give a huge boost to tourism and also open up job avenues for the local residents.