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.
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.
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.