Atal Tunnel – World’s longest Highway Tunnel above 10000ft.
A lot of our travel plans got postponed because of COVID- 19 pandemic but as we are normalising ourselves with the new normal; let’s be hopeful about 2021. Togedr always brings you the reasons to be hopeful and joyful. This time we have a new entry in our bucket list for the coming years. The entry is Atal Tunnel, Rohtang.
It was previously known as Rohtang Tunnel but was renamed after former Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. The decision to build this ambitious tunnel was taken on June 3, 2000, during the prime ministership of Atal Bihari Vajpayee himself. The construction of the 9.2 km Atal Tunnel has been completed in 10 years.
It is a highway tunnel built under the Rohtang Pass in the eastern Pir Panjal Range of the Himalayas on the Leh-Manali Highway. The Atal Tunnel is not exactly under Rohtang pass; it is slightly west of the pass. The south entrance is north of Dhundi on the other side of the Beas River. The northern end of the tunnel meets the existing Leh–Manali Highway near Teling village, west of Gramphu which is the first village after Rohtang Pass on the existing highway.
The tunnel will act as an alternative route to the Rohtang Pass which connects Manali with Leh. The tunnel is built at an elevation of 3,100 metres (9,840–10,170 ft) whereas the Rohtang Pass is at an elevation of 3,978 metres (13,051 ft). The width of the tunnel is 10.5 metres, including footpath of 1 metre on both sides.
The tunnel is going to be a connectivity ladder; not just distance-wise but weather-wise too.
With improved road and weather connectivity, not only tourism but also the quality of life in the region will improve. The residents usually remain cut off from the rest of the country in winters for nearly six months due to heavy snowfall. The tunnel shall provide almost all-weather connectivity to not just to the locals and travellers but also troops too stationed in Ladakh.
The tunnel cuts through the Pir Panjal range thus reducing the distance between Manali and Leh by 46 km and a journey from Manali Valley to Lahaul and Spiti Valley which normally used to take around five hours will now be completed in ten-fifteen minutes. Likewise, the 117 km distance from Manali to Keylong on the other side of Rohtang Pass was also usually covered by vehicles in about five to six hours, without counting the traffic jams. The same distance would now be covered in less than half-an-hour. Keylong would be just 40 km from North Portal and 49 km from the South Portal of the tunnel.
Some of the salient safety features of the tunnel include an emergency exit at every 500 metres, fire hydrants at every 60 meters, turning cavern every 2.2 km, air quality monitoring every one km, broadcasting system and automatic incident detection system with CCTV cameras at every 250 metres. Sensors to check the pollution level will also be installed and the tunnel will have semi-transverse ventilation system where large fans would separately circulate the air through the tunnel length. The visibility factor of the tunnel is 0.009 per metre.
As per BRO officials recommendation; the maximum and minimum speed of vehicles is 80 km and 30 km per hour respectively. Up to 1,500 trucks and 3,000 cars are expected to use it per day. When the situation gets to normal post-COVID-19 restrictions.
With Togedr; let us make our car one of it.