Manali to Leh in less than 10 hours: Atal Tunnel
is now open for drive.
For every adventurist who long for a drive experience from Manali to Leh, Ladakh
had remained out of bounds for about six months every year. Heavy snow deterred
such adventure on wheels until this year. But not any more, thanks to Atal Tunnel.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday inaugurated the new tunnel that not
only promises a Manali to Leh drive all through the year, but also reduce the travel
time between the two cities massively.
The 9 km-long Atal Tunnel, the longest highway tunnel in the world, promises to
reduce the distance by 46 kilometres and the time by about four to five hours. The
speed limit for cars using the tunnel has been set at 80 kmph.
On Saturday, Modi had tweeted, “This is an iconic infrastructure project built at a
height of 10,000 feet." He said the tunnel will help the region to develop. "The
#AtalTunnel will solve a major problem of connectivity in the region. It has
several salient features and will further 'Ease of Living' for local citizens. Will also
join public programmes in Sissu in Lahaul Spiti and at Solang Valley," he tweeted
Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had decided to construct the strategic
tunnel below the Rohtang Pass on June 3, 2000. The foundation was laid on May
26, 2002. In 2019, the government decided to name the tunnel after former PM
Vajpayee to honour the contribution made by him.
The tunnel is yet another example of the Border Roads Organisation’s excellence
in making and maintaining roads at such altitudes. It took them 10 years to give the
tunnel its final shape. The BRO had faced several challenges while building the
tunnel. It had to overcome major geological, terrain and weather challenges that
included the most difficult stretch of the 587-metre Seri Nalah Fault Zone.
The tunnel has constructed with 12,252 metric tonnes of steel, 1,69,426 metric
tonnes of cement and 1,01,336 metric tonnes of concrete. BRO had to excavate
5,05,264 metric tonnes of soil and rocks by adopting the latest Austrian tunneling
method for construction.
The tunnel begins from Dhundhi, a place 25 kms away from Manali, and ends at
near Teling village in Lahaul valley. The horseshoe-shaped, double-lane tunnel has
an overhead clearance of more than 5 metres, which means even big and heavy
trucks can comfortably pass through it. The tunnel can handle around 3,000 cars
and 1,500 trucks every day.