Few engineering marvels amaze you like anything. The recently constructed Atal Tunnel is one such sensation that you would need to explore. It had grabbed many eyeballs upon its inauguration. I would like to share everything about the Atal Tunnel that will give you the wanderlust to explore it on your next trip.
History of Atal Tunnel
It was June 2000 when Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee decided to built the tunnel below the Rohtang Pass. However, it got inaugurated 20 years later, on October 3, 2020, by current Prime Minister Narendra Modi. It is the highest altitude tunnel in the world, which makes it a strategic structure. The tunnel got the name Atal Tunnel in memory of Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
Specialty of Atal Tunnel
There are several unique features of the Atal Tunnel. There are snow galleries at the approach road from the Manali side. This is one of the key features of the tunnel as all-weather connectivity will remain ensured. This nine-kilometer-long tunnel also has an emergency escape tunnel. If any unforeseen incident blocks the main exit, vehicles can take the emergency exit.
Telephones are available at every 150m, emergency exits at 500m, fire hydrant at 60m, air quality monitoring at 1km, and CCTV with broadcasting system and automatic incident detection system at 250m. Vehicles can travel at a top speed of 80 kmph. At any point in time, 3000 cars and 1500 trucks can use it.
Advantage of Atal Tunnel
The tunnel has reduced the distance between Leh and Manali by 46 km. It is an alternative to the Rohtang Pass and is located 13,050 feet above mean sea level. A regular journey that would take around five hours in the past can now get completed in 10 minutes. The tunnel will provide excellent all-weather connectivity to troops from Ladakh as well. Additionally, the residents of Spiti Valley and Lahaul can also stay connected with the rest of the country. They would remain cut off with the nation for almost six months due to snowfall.
Some interesting facts about Atal Tunnel
This engineering marvel has many interesting facts about it that I am listing below.
- Though the foundation stone got laid in 2002, its feasibility study got done in 1990. The first and last blast took place in 2010 and 2017, respectively. Engineers used the New Austria Tunneling Method (NATM) technique for the construction of the tunnel.
- The tunnel now offers all-weather connectivity from Manali to Lahaul-Spiti valley. The tunnel lies in the Pir Panjal Range of the Himalayas, 3000 metres about the MSL (mean sea level).
- The distance between Manali and Leh is now only about 10 minutes, which earlier took almost 4-5 hours.
- Tunnel’s north portal is at Teling, Sissu, in Lahaul Valley at an altitude of 3071 metres. The south portal is 25 km away from Manali at an altitude of 3,060 metres.
- The tunnel has two lanes with a roadway of eight metres and has a horseshoe shape. The overhead clearance is more than five metres and is more than 10 metres wide.
- There is a modern electromechanical system with semi transverse ventilation system.
If you are a fan of mountains and eager to visit Leh and Manali on your next trip, Atal Tunnel is something that you would definitely not want to miss out on. I hope you find these tidbits useful to gain more knowledge about this engineering marvel. Do visit the Atal Tunnel whenever you are in that part of the country next time. I am also on IG, FB, Twitter, YT. Subscribe to my blog and social media handles to receive regular updates delivered right on your mobile.