Etymology of Rohtang Pass, Himachal Pradesh
The Rohtang Pass derives its name from the unfortunate deaths of people who attempted to cross the pass in bad weather. ‘Rohtang’ in Bhoti language refers to a pile of corpses.
Geography of Rohtang Pass, Himachal Pradesh
The Rohtang Pass provides a natural divide between the humid Kullu Valley in the south which has a predominant Hindu culture and the higher and arid Lahaul and Spiti valleys in the north with a predominant Buddhist culture. In addition to Lahaul and Spiti, Rohtang Pass is a gateway to the Pangi valley in Himachal and the Leh valley in Ladakh. Rohtang serves as a gateway to Ladakh just as the Zojila Pass. It lies on the watershed separating the Chenab and the Beas river basins. The Beas River emerges from underground on the southern end of the pass, flowing southwards, while on its northern end, the Chenab River sources from the Chandra River flowing from the eastern Himalayas towards the west. The amazing visual of the Chandra River flowing down can be caught in the Lahaul valley along the pass, with that of the glaciers and peaks. The twin peaks of Geypan are also visible from the pass.
Tourism in Rohtang Pass, Himachal Pradesh
The Rohtang Pass remains open only during the summer months from May to November. Though not difficult or high to cross through as per the Himalayan standards, the pass is considered dangerous for being vulnerable to unpredictable snowstorms and blizzards.
Rohtang Pass enlists itself high on the itineraries of tourists who visit Manali, Kullu, Shimla, Leh and other adjoining areas in summer, and is a hotspot for adventure enthusiasts. Adventurous activities such as trekking, skiing, mountain biking, snow scooters, sledges, paragliding and ATVs (all-terrain vehicles) can be experienced while at Rohtang. There are also small eateries and stalls up there that serve snacks to the tourists.
Being an important strategic zone, it is an alternate military route during the summers, with military trucks, vehicles and goods carriers navigating through the narrow stretch of the pass along rough terrains, impeded by snow and ice at different points en route. This makes the Rohtang Pass inevitably blocked with tourist and military traffic, causing delays in being passed through. This increase in traffic along the Rohtang Pass has aroused a sense of fear amongst the environmentalists, who predict this will have its impact on the fragile ecology of the mountains. The rise in average temperature and melting of glaciers are already issues of concern.
Rohtang Road Tunnel
Given the military significance of the Manali-Leh highway and the need to keep it open to access all round the year, the Indian government began constructing a $320 million road tunnel to bypass Rohtang Pass, in 2010. The 8.5 kilometres (5.3 miles) long Rohtang Tunnel is meant for the purpose of creating a much safer and faster year-around link to Keylong, Lahaul and Spiti and Leh in Ladakh. This tunnel will shorten the distance by about 50 kilometres (31 miles) and reduce the travel time by 5 hours, between the southern and northern faces of Rohtang Pass. While it presently takes 4 to 6 hours to ascend, navigate and descend the Rohtang Pass, it will take only about 30 minutes to travel through the Rohtang tunnel. The tunnel is estimated to be completed by 2017.
Visiting Information to Rohtang Pass, Himachal Pradesh
Rohtang Pass is accessed from Manali, which provides a wide range of accommodation options for stay purposes for the tourists, including luxury resorts, riverside cottages, deluxe hotels and 3-star budget accommodations. Manali also offers homestays which are a good option for tourists to stay and experience the culture of the locals. Jeeps and cabs are the most convenient conveyances to ascend to Rohtang Pass from Manali, also hiring snow clothes en route, which include overcoats, snow boots and gloves.