Time for pulsating action on Himachal highwayJune 9th, 2011 - 11:58 am ICT by IANS
Manali, June 9 (IANS) If you are an intrepid motorist and want to test your nerves in the most inhospitable terrain and tough climatic conditions, then a 475-km long Himalayan highway is your calling.
The Manali-Leh road that links this tourist resort town of Himachal Pradesh to Leh in Jammu and Kashmir has reopened as part of an annual drill, attracting adventure lovers and motorists.
“Since the reopening of the Manali-Leh highway, we have been daily getting a number of inquiries from motorists across the globe about its road worthiness,” Mehar Chand Thakur, a travel agent here, told IANS.
“In the next few weeks, the traffic of adventure lovers on the Manali-Leh highway would increase,” he added.
The strategic highway reopened June 1 after remaining closed for over six months owing to heavy snow.
Suresh Rana, a six-time winner of the motor rally Raid-de-Himalaya, said the entire Manali-Leh route is tough and the pressure on the motorist is extreme. It passes through the cold deserts of Lahaul and Spiti and Ladakh.
“In a four-wheeler, a sports utility vehicle will be the ideal machine. In the two-wheeler category, a 500 cc bike is the perfect vehicle,” he suggested.
The non-stop journey in a four-wheeler between Manali and Leh takes 16-18 hours.
“Since the journey is quite treacherous, it’s advisable to travel the distance in two days with a night halt at Sarchu (mid-way between Manali-Leh),” said Rana.
Throughout the journey, one gets a chance to admire the scenic beauty of the majestic Himalayas.
The road crosses four high mountain passes in the cold desert - Rohtang Pass (13,050 ft), Baralacha Pass (16,020 ft), Lachlungla Pass (16,620 ft) and Tanglangla Pass (17,480 ft).
A.K. Dikshit, commander of the 38 Task Force of the General Reserve Engineering Force (GREF), said some of the areas along the Rohtang Pass, some 52 km from Manali, are still under 45-50 feet snow. The GREF is a wing of the Border Roads Organisation that maintains the highway.
“Normally, these areas experience 15-20 feet of snow. As per our records, last winter saw the heaviest snowfall in the past 30 years,” he added.
He said some stretches of the highway pass through a wall of snow as high as 30 feet.
Dikshit said a sudden drop in the temperature, even in summer, can trigger winter-like conditions in Rohtang. “Even oxygen is quite minimal and high velocity winds start blowing later in the day. It’s advisable to cross the pass in the morning,”
Backpackers, especially from the US, Britain, Italy, France and Germany, descend on Manali from August to September every year. Most of them prefer to drive down the Manali-Leh highway.
Himachal Pradesh, whose economy is highly dependent on tourism, attracted 13,298,748 tourists, including 454,851 foreigners, last year.
Kullu-Manali has emerged as a favourite tourist destination, followed by Shimla and Dharamsala.
If you are keen to travel on some of the high passes of Himachal Pradesh, here are a few tips:
- Make sure your trip is planned well in advance. Check on general road conditions and confirm whether the high mountain passes are open.
- Most of the picturesque destinations in Kinnaur, Chamba, Lahaul and Spiti and Kullu districts are at high altitudes. Even during summer, you must carry woollens, jackets and some eatables as you may have to remain stranded on roads for days together due to landslides.
- If crossing high passes, good health is essential.
- Make sure you have an extra driver, especially if you plan to drive at night. Carrying extra fuel is a must.
- Prefer to travel in small groups and carry life-saving medicines.
(Vishal Gulati can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Permit must for Manali-Leh travel by non-Himachal vehicles - Jun 26, 2011
- Rohtang Pass reopens after five months - May 25, 2011
- Luxury bus service between Manali and Leh reopens - Jul 02, 2011
- Himachal likely to get 50,000 weekend tourists - Aug 09, 2012
- Avoid Manali-Leh highway, snowfall likely - Oct 23, 2011
- Rohtang Pass reopens for traffic - Aug 06, 2012
- Snow clearing work begins on Manali-Leh highway - Mar 01, 2011
- Stuck since December, they await Himalayan road's reopening - May 24, 2011
- Rohtang Pass re-opens for traffic - Apr 14, 2010
- Tourists evacuated from Rohtang Pass - Jul 11, 2011
- Rohtang Pass to be re-opened for traffic this week - Apr 11, 2010
- Himachal shivers, Shimla has season's coldest night - Jan 06, 2012
- Through mountain of snow, they open road to Lahaul (Feature with image) - Apr 27, 2012
- Hundreds stranded near Rohtang Pass - Jun 30, 2011
- Snow clearing work begins on Manali-Leh highway - Mar 03, 2010
Tags: adventure lovers, border roads, chand, cold desert, cold deserts, dikshit, four wheeler, gref, heavy snow, inhospitable terrain, jammu and kashmir, ladakh, majestic himalayas, motor rally, raid de himalaya, rally raid, road worthiness, spiti, sports utility vehicle, two wheeler