Himachal Pradesh

Manali to Lahaul via Atal Tunnel, Rohtang

The district of Lahaul and Spiti is by far my most favourite in Himachal Pradesh – or rather in North India. Though under one district, Lahaul and Spiti are vastly different – in their topography, landscape and culture amongst other things. But the one most important thing that has set them apart all these years is the fact that Lahaul remains cut off from mainland India for half of the year – because of immense snowfall leading to road blockages. Rohtang Pass that connects Lahaul to Kullu district, and Kunzum Pass that connects Lahaul and Spiti together, both remain shut during winters – from October to April. But the recent opening of the much awaited all-weather Atal Tunnel at Rohtang has made a significant improvement in the life of Lahauli people.

Also read: “13 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Visit Spiti Valley”

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Though the construction of Atal Tunnel began in 2009, it was completed in late 2019 and inaugurated and opened for the general public in 2020. The opening of Atal Tunnel has not only made it much easier for the people of Lahaul to travel to Manali and further during winter months, but has also made tourism is Lahaul much more accessible. To give you an idea of the sudden tourism spurt in the region, I visited Lahaul via Rohtang Pass last year in September 2019 and I was only one of the three tourists in Sissu, one of the first villages of Lahaul. And when I visited Lahaul via Atal Tunnel this year in October 2020, Sissu was flooded with tourists who had come to catch a glimpse of Lahaul on a day trip from Manali.

Also read: “A comprehensive guide to Lahaul”

atal tunnel distance

Atal Tunnel – Facts and FAQs

  • The Atal Tunnel length is 9.02 kilometers, making it the longest tunnel above 10,000 feet in the world.
  • The start point or South Portal of Atal Tunnel is near a village called Burwa after Solang, while the end point of Atal Tunnel or North Portal is at a village called Teling, near Sissu.
  • The tunnel has reduced travel time between Manali and Sissu by 5 hours (45 kilometers)!
  • The Atal Tunnel is in the shape of a horseshoe.
  • South Portal of the tunnel is located 25 kilometers from Manali, and the North Portal is located 7 kilometers from Sissu.
  • The maximum height of Atal Tunnel is 3,071 meters or 10,057 feet.
  • Photography is prohibited outside and inside the tunnel – though there are plenty pictures of the tunnel on the internet from the inauguration day itself!
  • The nearest petrol pump from Atal Tunnel is at Vashisht (Manali side) and Tandi (Lahaul side).
  • The tunnel will remain closed between 9 pm to 6 am until December 2020 for maintenance activities.
  • The tunnel is set to remain throughout the year, even in winters, making it easy for tourists to experience winters in Lahaul.

Also read: “Surviving -30 degrees in Spiti Valley”

The only image of the Atal Tunnel entrance that I have, before I was asked to stop photographing!
Atal Tunnel Route Map
Atal Tunnel Route Map
atal tunnel from inside
Inside the Atal Tunnel

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A twenty-something solo adventurer, Avantika finds comfort in learning about various cultures, its people and listening to age-old folk tales. When not on the road, she can be found cuddled up with her dog in her room, with a book in her hand.


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