PAP query

#1 Mar 13th, 2012, 18:47
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#1
Hello,
I'm in the very early stages of planning a trip to Ladakh. Came to know about this excellent forum through Tripadvisor and Dheeraj Sharma's very informative blogs. We are British citizens ( I've roots in Kolkata) but have recently obtained the Overseas Citizen of India( OCI) stamp.
My understanding is that we'll have to apply for a PAP and not ILP to visit Nubra valley etc.
Is that correct and can this be arranged in advance through an agent or by post from UK? We'd be on a tight schedule and want to save time by not visiting the govt offices.
I was just surprised to find how many places in India need PAP for travelling !!
Many thanks in advance and I'm sure I'll have many more questions in future. Currently tied up reading the great blog from Mr. Shil.

Kind regards

Supratik
#2 Mar 17th, 2012, 13:41
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#2
Quote:
Originally Posted by Supra View Post Hello,
I'm in the very early stages of planning a trip to Ladakh. Came to know about this excellent forum through Tripadvisor and Dheeraj Sharma's very informative blogs. We are British citizens ( I've roots in Kolkata) but have recently obtained the Overseas Citizen of India( OCI) stamp.
My understanding is that we'll have to apply for a PAP and not ILP to visit Nubra valley etc.
Is that correct and can this be arranged in advance through an agent or by post from UK? We'd be on a tight schedule and want to save time by not visiting the govt offices.
I was just surprised to find how many places in India need PAP for travelling !!
Many thanks in advance and I'm sure I'll have many more questions in future. Currently tied up reading the great blog from Mr. Shil.

Kind regards

Supratik
Thanks alot for finding the resources helpful on my blog.

Yes, you need to apply for PAP and almost all the formalities are same as ILP but I am not sure if the application form is same or not. Secondly, the difference is also that for a PAP one must apply it in group accompanied by a authorized Travel agent in Leh - Ladakh, I guess.

You can get the permit in advance through any of the tour travel agent or hotels. Shanti Tours and Asia does provide this service. They will charge you for the same and you have to provide the documents required and once the permit is done they can Fax or email you the permit copy and then you can carry 8-10 copies of that with you once you come to Leh.

Shoot the other queries you have...
#3 Mar 17th, 2012, 18:17
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#3
Thanks very much Dheeraj. I e-mailed HCI London & Birmingham but never received any reply. Not surprised!! Later found this form at HCI website visa application download section. PDF link attached for anyone interested:
http://www.hcilondon.org/VisaRAFm.pdf
Does not really say what documents are needed but I'm sure the agents can help.
I also got in touch with another TA member EESW from UK and she told me that her PAP was all organised through the travel company Audley Travel from UK so I suspect mine can also be done from UK. I'll get in touch with some of your recommended agents about this.
As mentioned I'm not in a hurry at all but I like to plan well in advance and enjoy the planning bit almost as much as the actual holiday.
The biggest dilemma is whether to fly to Leh to save time and risk AMS ruining first couple of days or take the Srinagar-Leh road with a stop at Kargil? My wife and one daughter have certain medical condition with chronic anaemia and exercise tolerance is not brilliant even at sea level.
Your FB site is nice and once again thanks for the blog. The TA site has surprisingly sparse info. I am very impressed with your review of hotel Sten Del at Diskit which has absolutely no mention in TA !
I'll come back in future with other queries.
Cheers.
#4 Mar 18th, 2012, 00:30
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#4
Sure, you can share your queries and we will get back in no time. I will suggest that you guys fly to Srinagar and then first halt at KArgil and then better be at Alchi. You will feel much better when you guys reach Leh else as you already know flying to Leh and then definitely taking rest for few days at least 2 if not 3 nights. Travel to other locations on thrid day only after you are sure that you guys are fine.

Yes, Sten Del is good, comfy and well managed. But, do ensure that you fix rates fine because as mentioned in the review my on of my friend didn't got the price for what he booked. The guy got greedy seeing the tourist rush and asked more money when they reached there. so, do take care of this fact while booking wih him. We didnt have any issues and had a very nice stay, in fact the best on our trip.

Regarding Pap, I guess there will be no major issues.
#5 Mar 22nd, 2012, 13:42
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#5
Don't try to get permits ahead of time. It is unnecessary and a lengthy process, and the consulates can barely do it. You can get them in one day (excpt Sunday) in Leh.

I think as a foreigner with an OCI you probably have to get the same permit as other foreigners in Leh. You can get it in Leh at any travel agent.
#6 Mar 22nd, 2012, 23:47
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Thanks NIR.
You are correct about Indian High Commissions and their efficiency. I've e-mailed several times to them without any response and the phone numbers keep on ringing or have weird times like between 4 and 5 PM to call which is not easy for me. I'm not too concerned about Nubra Valley and Pangong and would get that done either visiting the DC office personally or through an agent if needed.
I am struggling to find what would exactly happen if I want to follow the footsteps of Koushik Shil from Pangong to Tso Morori travelling through Merek, Chushul,Hanley, Wari la covering the Changthang valley. My understanding is that Changthang region beyond Man Merek is total no-go for foreigners but Indian citizens can get a permit from DC office in Leh as clearly mentioned by Kaushik.

Not sure whether the foreigners are ever allowed in this area and if so who issues those permit? DC office at Leh or the Home Affairs ministry? I actually mailed to an agency called Active Ladakh (found when searching on the web). They replied that foreign tourists/NRI will have to apply to Home ministry for visiting Chushul etc but probably did not understand my query about OCI.

I'm not sure as an overseas citizen where do I exactly stand ? Do I just turn up at DC office at Leh and apply as a normal Indian citizen for Changthang ? Or do I get in touch with Home ministry and request to be treated as an Indian Citizen. If any one knows any knowledgeable travel agent who can help that'd be greatly appreciated.

I've even mailed leh.nic.in without any response till date. I may ask Dheeraj sweetly to check this out with the DC office if he has any spare time when he visits Leh next.

But even if we aren't allowed Changthang rest of the area looks pretty stunning. It's just I would any day prefer the solitude and desolate appearance of Changthang over flogging a poor camel or following the trails of Bollywood movies.
Cheers
#7 Mar 23rd, 2012, 03:05
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Leave it all until you arrive and start arranging things. I have never done any of the Indian paperwork, the tour guys, drivers or GH people do it for you, and fine with me. If your travel plan is acceptable to the authorities (and they are very decent), it will be better if you are in town, in any case. There is so much land out there, you will not feel confined, most likely just the opposite, lol. The high lakes are wonderful at sunrise/sunset, but it's excellent countryside anytime of any day.
#8 Mar 23rd, 2012, 17:13
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Thanks PIP. From your location I'm assuming you may not be an Indian Citizen. Have you travelled to the area of Changthang beyond Merek to Tso Moriri through Chushul and Hanley?
If you have then hopefully I should be able to do so as well. According to Active Ladakh the DC office don't have the power to grant permit beyond the usual PAP.
But I entirely agree with your view of not losing sleep over Changthang as rest looks equally appealing.
Cheers
#9 Mar 24th, 2012, 10:03
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#9
Quote:
Originally Posted by Supra View Post I may ask Dheeraj sweetly to check this out with the DC office if he has any spare time when he visits Leh next.
No worries Supra, I will surely confirm it from the DC office in April end. Marking on the TODO list ... Just be in touch or write me on the FB wall as you will definitely come to know by the pics that I am back, in case I forget to reply

Quote:
Originally Posted by pip View Post ... it will be better if you are in town, in any case.
Very true, your presence will be good for the permits. Even for Indian, the Changthang permit thing is best done in presence and by ourselves. Travel agents sometimes mess up this permit and you miss one village on this route in the form and all you will have is disappointment of returning back
#10 Mar 25th, 2012, 01:44
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#10
Dheeraj: You are a STAR. I'll keep in touch with you through FB or PM you. Have a nice trip.

Supratik
#11 Mar 25th, 2012, 10:43
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Supra View Post Dheeraj: You are a STAR.
glad to be one ... But, frankly I am just a passionate traveler and a die hard lover of ladakh...
#12 Mar 28th, 2012, 23:12
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#12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Supra View Post Thanks NIR.
I am struggling to find what would exactly happen if I want to follow the footsteps of Koushik Shil from Pangong to Tso Morori travelling through Merek, Chushul,Hanley, Wari la covering the Changthang valley. My understanding is that Changthang region beyond Man Merek is total no-go for foreigners but Indian citizens can get a permit from DC office in Leh as clearly mentioned by Kaushik.

Not sure whether the foreigners are ever allowed in this area and if so who issues those permit? DC office at Leh or the Home Affairs ministry? I actually mailed to an agency called Active Ladakh (found when searching on the web). They replied that foreign tourists/NRI will have to apply to Home ministry for visiting Chushul etc but probably did not understand my query about OCI.

I'm not sure as an overseas citizen where do I exactly stand ? Do I just turn up at DC office at Leh and apply as a normal Indian citizen for Changthang ? Or do I get in touch with Home ministry and request to be treated as an Indian Citizen. If any one knows any knowledgeable travel agent who can help that'd be greatly appreciated.

But even if we aren't allowed Changthang rest of the area looks pretty stunning. It's just I would any day prefer the solitude and desolate appearance of Changthang over flogging a poor camel or following the trails of Bollywood movies.
Cheers
I'm pretty sure that as a foreigner with an OCI you are just a foreigner with a visa, and cannot go to Chushul and Hanley, etc. All the permits are given by the DC, not the Home Ministry. I doubt the DC can give special permission for you to go to those places since it's a military issue about those being close to the Chinese border.

By the way, foreigners have to get their permits through a travel agent in Leh (walk in, don't bother doing it ahead of time). Indians can do it themselves at the DC's office.

Some things if you don't want to do the usual tourist trail:

Some new areas opened up to foriegners last year, extending the area you can go to on your permits, and very few tourists go to them as of now. I've been to Turtuk and loved it (west of Nubra, in Baltistan). And Maan and Merak villages on Pangong Lake which I'm dying to visit but haven't gotten around to yet. I'm told the reason that not many tourists go there even though it has opened is that the road along the lake has been flooded and drained over the years many times so it's rough and takes an hour or two of bumping beyond Spangmik, so most tourists just hit Spangmik and turn back. Spangmik used to be nice but since Three Idiots it's full of idiots throwing garbage or washing their motor bikes in the lake...
#13 Mar 29th, 2012, 01:24
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#13
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Originally Posted by NonIndianResident View Post I'm pretty sure that as a foreigner with an OCI you are just a foreigner with a visa, and cannot go to Chushul and Hanley, etc. All the permits are given by the DC, not the Home Ministry. I doubt the DC can give special permission for you to go to those places since it's a military issue about those being close to the Chinese border.

By the way, foreigners have to get their permits through a travel agent in Leh (walk in, don't bother doing it ahead of time). Indians can do it themselves at the DC's office.

Some things if you don't want to do the usual tourist trail:

Some new areas opened up to foriegners last year, extending the area you can go to on your permits, and very few tourists go to them as of now. I've been to Turtuk and loved it (west of Nubra, in Baltistan). And Maan and Merak villages on Pangong Lake which I'm dying to visit but haven't gotten around to yet. I'm told the reason that not many tourists go there even though it has opened is that the road along the lake has been flooded and drained over the years many times so it's rough and takes an hour or two of bumping beyond Spangmik, so most tourists just hit Spangmik and turn back. Spangmik used to be nice but since Three Idiots it's full of idiots throwing garbage or washing their motor bikes in the lake...
Thanks NIR. Nearer to the time I'd get in touch with agents. As the OCI are exempted from registration with police and some other formalities that standard foreign tourists face so I am hoping for leniency but will have to wait and see what happens.
I'm planning to stay either in Deskit or Hunder for at least one night and explore the valley. Turtok seems to be a fair distance to drive and return. Is there any particular reason for visiting Turtok? I've seen Kaushik's photos and not sure whether it's worth the extra time. Should I explore Sumur and Panamik instead?

Do you have any views on the Double Hump Camp in Hunder ? Seems very nice but could not find many reviews.

I couldn't agree more with your views on idiots littering pristine terrains. I'm hoping to stay overnight at Pangong so would certainly travel down to Man-Merak-Kastet if allowed. An hour of bumpy road is not going to deter me !!
Best wishes.
#14 Mar 29th, 2012, 15:11
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#14
Well, Indians don't need a passport to get their permits, they just need other domestic ID. So if you have any Indian ID other than your OCI card...

I thought Turtuk was really interesting. A different culture, not Ladakhi. And the mountains are really the Karakorams there, much steeper, narrower valleys and more rugged looking than central Nubra from Hundar to Panamik. But then again since I'd been to Nubra several times that was why I was so exited. Still, I would recommend my friends to go to Hundar and Turtuk rather than Hundar and Panamik.

There are shared taxis from Diskit to Turtuk regularly, and a daily bus. It's maybe 3 or 4 hours of changing scenery, but the road is not rough.
#15 Mar 29th, 2012, 20:20
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#15
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Originally Posted by NonIndianResident View Post Well, Indians don't need a passport to get their permits, they just need other domestic ID. So if you have any Indian ID other than your OCI card...
Interesting. Perhaps should look into the possibility of obtaining a PAN card.
I'm a sucker for rugged terrains and desolation. So looks like a trip to Turtek should be on the card, especially as it seems to be a smooth ride.
Cheers

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