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Beyond the Earthly Horizon: The Rise of Astrotourism in India

Discover more about how this trend is: utilised by a Gurgaon-based startup to expand in 15 locations nationwide, being recognised as India’s first certified “Dark Sky Zone”, empowering rural communities, preserving cultural heritage, and igniting a passion for space exploration. Bonus: a perfect stargazing escape and much more.


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Astrotourism is capturing hearts as the latest travel trend, combining the allure of astronomy, night sky photography, and off-the-grid adventures. Prominent Indian spots like Ladakh, Rajasthan, and Uttarakhand are rapidly emerging as prime destinations for celestial exploration.

A Celestial Spark for Rural Development

India's vast landscapes and clear skies have long held a certain allure for stargazers. Recent years, however, have witnessed the rise of astrotourism, a niche market capitalising on this celestial appeal while fostering positive social and economic change. Here, we explore the stories of two key players in this burgeoning industry: Starscapes and Astrostays.

Starscapes: Bringing the Cosmos to Life

Starscapes was founded in 2015 by passionate amateur astronomers, offering immersive experiences such as night sky shows, workshops, and interactive activities. They seamlessly blend scientific knowledge with storytelling to create a unique and engaging educational experience. The "Rocket-making workshops" are designed to spark a love for space exploration in younger generations. 

Starscapes is rapidly expanding its reach in multiple cities through strategic partnerships with organisations like Club Mahindra, while also catering to larger groups through their popular "astro-parties."

In 2021, Starscapes served over 50,000 customers and generated revenue of approximately INR 4 crore.

AstroCamps by Starscapes, nestled in pristine dark sky sanctuaries like Benital and Spiti

Astrostays: Empowering Communities 

Astrostays is a community-led project that not only focuses on rural development and cultural preservation but also empowers locals by training them as astronomy guides and hosts. This has led to the creation of economic opportunities and skill development within these communities.

Success stories in towns like Benital in the Chamoli district of Uttarakhand serve as inspiring examples of sustainable income generation and cultural revival. 

In 2021, Astrostays hosted over 600 tourists and generated revenues exceeding INR 20 lakh. With the increase in astro-travel, Astrostays has clearly experienced a substantial increase in revenue, potentially multiplying its income by at least 10-15 times.

Astrostays setting up a telescope at a Buddhist Monastery 

Harnessing India's Dark Sky Zones

Hanle, Ladakh offers exquisite night skies

Dark sky regions are integral to astrotourism, offering unspoiled night skies for stargazing and astronomical observation.

The certification by the International Dark Sky Association is prestigious as they only certify 20 nominations annually with only 200 such zones worldwide. The recognition of Hanle, Ladakh as a dark sky region will elevate the astrotourism space to the next level by attracting visitors, supporting local businesses, and enhancing India's reputation as a top astrotourism destination.

Lenin Tamilkovan, a scientific officer at Birla Planetarium in Chennai, expressed his enthusiasm for the establishment of the Dark Sky Reserve in Hanle, Ladakh, stating, "Years of survey and research go into studying the region before setting up observatories. Nearly 15 years of work went into setting this up. Scientifically and culturally, Ladakh is a great place to observe the dark skies in a pollution-free environment."

Visit Hanle, Ladakh

Best time to visit: Hanle enjoys clear skies throughout the year. Situated at 4,500m, winters are extremely cold with temperatures dropping to -20°C, yet snowfall is minimal. The best time to visit Hanle is from March to October when temperatures are milder, skies remain clear, and the Milky Way is prominently visible.

Accommodation: Hanle has a bunch of homestays. Look for ones where the hosts also double up as astronomy ambassadors with their own telescopes. We recommend checking out Milky Way Homestay & Namdruk Homestay.

Pro tip: Try and time your trip around the New Moon Day, when you can see the night sky in all its glory.

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