India // Himachal Pradesh //

Restricted areas and Inner Line permits

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Foreigners travelling between Sumdo in Spiti and Morang in Kinnaur – where the road passes within a few kilometres of Western Tibet – require Inner Line permits, valid for travel through the border districts. Officially you are required to travel in a group of four or more, but in practice that is never enforced – though in some places you may have to apply as part of a group.

Inner Line permits are valid for seven days and available from Shimla, Manali, Kullu, Rampur, Kaza and Rekong Peo. If travelling independently, you’re best off applying at Rekong Peo in Kinnaur or Kaza in Spiti, where you can do the legwork yourself and obtain a permit in an hour or two, usually free. In Shimla, Manali, Kullu and Rampur officials normally insist that you can only apply as a group of four through a travel agent. It’s a good idea to bring three photographs and photocopies of the relevant pages of your passport and visa with you, though in some places officials like to take these directly. Although you are unlikely to need them, make at least four photocopies of your permit should the local authorities demand to retain a copy at checkpoints along the way.

When travelling through restricted areas, you should never take photographs of military installations or sensitive sites like bridges. Stick to the main route and you should have no problems with officialdom.

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