Carve a tunnel of hope through the dark mountain of disappointment
Rohtang tunnel is a symbol of hope that is being carved through a dark mountain which would change the fortune of the people of Himachal Pradesh. It was a dream of our former Prime Minister Mr. Atal Bihari Vajpayee to build a tunnel under the Rohtang pass in the eastern Pir Panjal range of the Himalayas. This prestigious project would reduce the distance between Manali and Keylong by about 46 kms. The roadway that go through the other side of Rohtang pass usually takes 5 to 6 hours to reach Keylong from Manali without taking into account the slow moving traffic this area faces. This same distance would only take a maximum of half an hour once the route is inaugurated.
The Government has planned to build this tunnel keeping in mind that the Manali Sarchu Leh road remains closed for 6 months finishing all road connectivity with the rest of the country. Once the 8.8 km long tunnel is operational this would be another honour added to the excellent engineering work done in India in the recent past. It would become the longest highway tunnel to be made at an altitude above 10,000 feet (3000 meters). The beautiful snow-capped mountains on both sides would definitely be a dream destination for all of the adventure lovers in the country.
This 10.5 meter wide tunnel would be quite exceptional to any other road tunnel we have witnessed so far. Safety measures taken inside this tunnel are incredible and are a proof of astounding civil work. It would have a bi lane emergency tunnel built into the main tunnel itself.
Keeping in mind the heavy snowfall these areas experience, avalanche control structures are also being built inside this manmade marvel. These measures would help prevent the roads from any kind of damage making it a lot safer for the day-trippers who would be travelling through this road.
Anticipating a serious traffic in this route, CCTV cameras have been placed in the tunnel to keep a check at the traffic. Sensors have also been installed to keep the pollution level in the tunnel under control. Some of the other special features of this tunnel that would make long drive a pleasant experience for everyone are the partially transverse ventilation system which would help flow fresh air throughout the tunnel. One of the most distinctive features of this tunnel would be the public announcement system that is being installed in it to make any vital announcements during emergencies.
The Tunnel whose foundation was laid on 28th June 2010 as Rohtang tunnel has now been christened to Atal tunnel on 25th December 2019 as a tribute to our former Prime Minister Mr. Atal Bihari Vajpayee. The tunnel has been through a lot of challenges in its path to completion. One of the most challenging areas was the excavation of the tunnel especially under the extreme weather conditions. The harsh topography of the place furthermore created quite a hindrance in the way of completion of the tunnel. Despite these difficulties the government is hopeful to open the tunnel to the public in September 2020.
So, if you are already filling in your calendar for the coming year then this iconic tunnel should be on it. Once open for the public, it would be a dream destination for all born with the itchy feet. The idea of being able to visit Leh and Ladakh any of the year is an opportunity one should never miss. So just grab your travel shoes and set off for an adventure of a lifetime.