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Labourers work inside the newly constructed Atal Tunnel on the Leh-Manali highway. (REUTERS)
Labourers work inside the newly constructed Atal Tunnel on the Leh-Manali highway. (REUTERS)

All you need to know about Atal Tunnel: Manali to Leh by road, 365 days a year

  • Atal Tunnel will open Manali to Lahaul-Spiti valley by road all through the year. It also reduces driving distance, and therefore, driving time.
  • Atal Tunnel is the world's longest highway tunnel above 10,000 feet and has been designed for traffic density of 3,000 cars and 1,500 trucks per day.

Atal Tunnel was formally inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday morning in what is being seen as much a strategic move as a move for convenience of people who would want to travel between Manali and Ladakh by road throughout the year. The road route thus far was shut for six months each year due to climatic conditions but Atal Tunnel promises to not only keep the driving option open throughout the year but also reduce driving distance.

Atal Tunnel at Manali-Leh highway is a 9.2 Kms long strategically important tunnel.
Atal Tunnel at Manali-Leh highway is a 9.2 Kms long strategically important tunnel.

Here is all that you need to know about Atal Tunnel and why it is a boon for the country:

  • The decision to construct the tunnel was taken by Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led government back in June of 2000. The foundation stone was laid in May of 2002.
  • The idea for the tunnel was to have a road option below the Rohtang Pass that gets shut for several months during the winter season.
  • While it was previously referred to as Rohtang Tunnel, it was the Narendra Modi-led government that decided to name it Atal Tunnel on December 24 of 2019 in memory of the former Prime Minister of the country.
  • The major part of the construction was done by Border Roads Organization (BRO). There were a number of weather, terrain and geological challenges that had to be overcome.

Photo courtesy: PIB
Photo courtesy: PIB


  • The Tunnel is built with ultra-modern specifications in the Pir Panjal range of Himalayas at an altitude of 3,000 Mtrs (10,000 Feet) from the Mean Sea Level (MSL).
  • The South Portal (SP) of Atal Tunnel is located at a distance of 25 Km from Manali at an altitude of 3060 Mtrs, while the North Portal (NP) of the tunnel is located near village Teling, Sissu, in Lahaul Valley at an altitude of 3071 Mtrs.
  • It is horse shoe shaped, single tube double lane tunnel with a roadway of 8 Mtrs. It has an overhead clearance of 5.525 Mtrs.
  • It is 10.5-metre wide and has a 3.6 x 2.25 Mtrs fire proof emergency egress tunnel built into the main tunnel itself.
  • Atal Tunnel has been designed for traffic density of 3000 cars per day and 1500 trucks per day with max speed of 80 km/hr.
  • It has the state of the art electromechanical system including semi transverse ventilation system, SCADA controlled firefighting, illumination and monitoring system.
  • Some of the safety features inside the tunnel include entry barriers at both portals, telephone connections at every 150 Mtrs for emergency communication, auto incident detection system with CCTV cameras at every 250 Mtrs, air quality monitoring at every 1 Km, broadcasting system throughout the tunnel, cameras at every 60 Mtrs etc.
  • The most difficult stretch was the 587-metre Seri Nalah Fault Zone. The breakthrough from both ends was achieved on October 15, 2017.
  • The tunnel reduces the road distance by 46 kms between Manali and Leh and the time by about 4 to 5 hours.

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