Srinagar - Leh Road: CLOSED
Manali - Leh Road: CLOSED
The 474-km-long Manali-Leh (Ladakh) highway has been blocked following heavy snowfall along the highway. Manali-Rohtang-Keylong-Leh highway is blocked beyond Kothi, 14km from Manali. Rohtang pass, Baralacha pass and other high passes have received heavy to very heavy snowfall in last few days. A thick layer of frost has covered the highway, making driving very risky.
Given the safety of public, the highway has been officially closed. Border Roads Organization (BRO), which is responsible for the maintenance of this road, has informed that the snow from highway will now be cleared after March only. A bridge on Manali-Leh highway at Koksar, 70km from Manali, has also been removed to stop flow of vehicular traffic.
Hundreds of residents of Lahaul valley have migrated to Kullu-Manali and other lower areas. Almost all the residents of Koksar, Dimpuk and Ramthang villages on Lahaul, on other side of Rohtang, have migrated to Kullu district. Koksar has nearly 26 families, both Dimpuk and Ramthang villages have 10 families each. These villages are wearing deserted look.
Temperature on Rohtang, Baralacha and other high altitude areas along the highway is dipping as low as minus 30 or even below. Srinagar-Leh highway has also blocked on Zojila pass beyond Sonmarg. This highway will open in April.
BRO officials have informed that snow clearance operation on Manali-Leh highway will start on March 1 and the highway is expected to thrown open for vehicles in end of May. This year the hills of Himachal and Ladakh have experienced comparatively less snowfall than last season. However, there are three more months to come which can witness heavy snowfall anytime. If you are planning to visit Ladakh by road from Srinagar, you should plan after April 20 and if you plan to travel by Manali-Leh road, you should now plan before June 10, 2016.
UPDATE AS ON 24 FEBRUARY 2016
BRO aims at opening Manali-Leh highway in April
As the high mountain passes in Himachal and J&K have very less snow accumulation, Border Roads Organization (BRO) is expecting to connect Keylong and Leh with Manali in record time. Organization has set a target to resume traffic on Manali-Keylong highway in early April.
Summer snow clearance on Manali-Leh highway will start from Gulaba, 23km from here, from March 1. Rohtang pass (13,050ft) and Baralacha pass (16,050) are the two main challenges before BRO. Both the passes where snow accumulation at this time of season was expected to be over 30ft has on an average 5ft of snow. 222-km-long Manali-Sarchu road used to experience many avalanches but this year only a few avalanches are reported so far.
“We are starting summer snow clearance operation after puja at Gulaba on March 1,” 38 Border Road Task Force (BRTF) commander Colonel KP Rajendra Kumar said. He added that so far the area along the highway has experienced less snowfall than usual. “We have prepared a strategy for multi-stage snow cutting. If weather conditions remain favourable, we shall connect Keylong soon and then we shall concentrate on Baralacha pass towards Sarchu.”
Manali-Keylong highway generally opens for vehicular traffic in May and Manali-Leh road opens in late May or early June. Work on strategically important Rohtang tunnel too has closed from its north portal in Lahaul due to blockage of highway after snowfall on Rohtang pass. The project has already lagged behind by three years. Officials of border roads’ Rohtang project are also expecting to start working from northern side in April.
Rohtang tunnel project chief engineer Brigadier Manoj Kumar said, “Manali-Rohtang-Keylong highway is expected to open in April. We shall than more our machinery to the north portal and start digging tunnel from there. We want to take advantage of less snowfall to work more and compensate the losses,” he said. Early opening of the highway will also benefit the thousands of residents of tribal Lahaul who otherwise are dependent on emergency helicopter service to stay connected with rest of the country.
UPDATE AS ON 01 MARCH 2016
Summer snow clearance on Manali-Leh highway started from Beas Nullah (Manali)
Beas Nullah (Manali): With an aim to open Manali-Rohtang-Keylong before March 31 and Manali-Leh highway till April 30, Border Roads Organization (BRO) on Tuesday started its snow clearance operation on the highway from Beas nullah, 33km from here.
It’s for the first time in history that snow clearance is being done from Beas Nullah and not from Gulaba, 23km from here, on March 1. As the mountain passes have received very less snow this year, only high altitude areas are under thick layer of snow. Last year BRO had to start snow clearance on March 19 due to heavy snowfall even in the low altitude areas. The road will be cleared till Rohtang in next few days. The work started officially on Tuesday after performing a puja.
According to 38 Border Road Task Force (BRTF) commander Colonel KP Rajendra Kumar, his force is trying to open the highway for traffic movement as soon as possible. “One team will move from Beas Nullah towards Rohtang, second team is moving from Koksar towards Rohtang and third team is removing snow from Jispa towards Baralacha pass. All the teams have dozers, snow cutters and force of jawans,” he said.
The highest deposit of snow that jawans have to cut so far is about 15ft high wall of snow at Beas Nullah. Next challenge will be to cut avalanche at Rahni nullah and thick snow deposit on north face of Rohtang. “We shall try to connect Keylong with Manali till March 31. Then we shall concentrate on opening of Manali-Leh highway till Sarchu, 222km from Manali. Meanwhile, our machinery is engaged in formation cutting to widen the highway,” Colonel added.
It will be a record if Keylong and Leh are connected with Manali in March and April respectively. Despite less snowfall, jawans are working under extreme cold conditions. Even the day temperature is below minus 10 degree Celsius. High velocity winds are another challenge. BRO performed puja before starting the work beyond Beas Nullah for smooth operation and the safety of men and machinery.
UPDATE AS ON 03 April 2016
Manali-Rohtang-Keylong road to open by April 10, a month more to open Manali-Leh highway
A Border Roads Organization (BRO) official disclosed here that Manali-Leh highway will be opened by April 10. The snow-clearance operation on Manali-Leh highway is continuing on war footings and BRO jawans have nearly 15km stretch to clear snow across Rohtang-la before Manali is connected with Keylong.
BRO had set a target to connect Rohtang pass with Manali by end of March but recent snowfall has delayed the opening of the road by at least one week. More snowfall in March has increased the existing snow accumulation by 5 to 10ft. According to BRO officials, they will clear road till Rohtang in next few days and connect Keylong with Manali within a week. Snow clearance operation is being carried out on war footings and jawans are cutting through 20 to 30ft thick layer of snow.
“We are sure to clear snow from Manali-Rohtang-Keylong highway within a week,” 38 Border Road Task Force commander Colonel KP Rajendra Kumar said. He added that snow cutting machines have crossed Rahni nullah which is the most challenging portion between Manali and Keylong. “We were already close to Rohtang pass in second week of March and we had only few kilometers stretch left to throw the highway open for vehicular movement. But another spell of snowfall pushed us back and we had to restart our snow clearance operation from the foot of the Rohtang pass,” he said.
According to commander, there are few avalanche prone points on Manali-Rohtang road where snow is sliding on the road. “We clear snow and it again slides on the highway. We have to clear it every morning and evening. We shall allow traffic only after ascertaining that the road is fit for general traffic,” he added.
The extreme cold conditions where all water sources freeze within few minutes and even diesel gets freeze every morning, frostbite is the main danger that jawans face every minute. High velocity winds and blizzards are the other challenges. Though BRO has designed special cabins on machineries for safe and secure operation, the extreme weather conditions make it extremely difficult task work as in normal geographical conditions.
Work to remove snow from highway is continuing from both sides of Rohtang and jawans have nearly 15km stretch of road to clear snow. BRO will then concentrate on opening of Baralacha pass towards Sarchu and further upto Leh. Sources said that only local residents of Lahaul will be allowed to drive on Manali-Rohtang-Keylong highway at the beginning and tourist vehicles will be allowed only after making proper arrangement of parking and ensuring that tourist movement beyond Gulaba is safe. If weather conditions remain favourable, Manali-Leh road can be thrown open by end of April or early May.
UPDATE AS ON 28 April 2016
Rohtang opened for LMVs, BRO works hard on Baralacha pass
Rohtang pass, most challenging mountain pass on Manali-Leh highway, has been opened for vehicular traffic and now Border Roads Organization (BRO) jawans are concentrating on 16,050ft high Baralacha pass. Manali-Rohtang-Keylong highway was opened for light motor vehicles on April 6 but frequent spells of snowfall, blizzards, snow collapses and avalanches are blocking the highway every second day. The road is opened only for local residents of Lahaul valley residing on the other side of Rohtang pass.
According to BRO officials, they are trying to clear snow from Manali-Leh highway till Sarchu in first week of May. The remaining stretch of Sarchu and Leh is already cleared of snow. It is expected that Manali-Leh highway will be opened by May 15. But as it will take at least a week more in making of parking, surfacing of the highway and widening of the roads, the highway is all set to be safe for tourists till May 25.
Srinagar-Leh highway to open for light vehicles on April 29
According to officials in Srinagar, snow has been removed from Srinagar-Leh highway and Light Motor Vehicles (LMVs) will be allowed to ply the highway from April 29. The highway will be opened for heavy vehicles in first week of May. BRO is now working on surfacing of the highway at damaged portions.
UPDATE AS ON 30 April 2016
Srinagar-Leh highway opens for traffic
Four months after the winter snowfall had blocked Srinagar-Leh highway, the vehicular movement has again been resumed on the highway connecting Ladakh region with Kashmir valley. Chinar Corps Commander Lt General Satish Dua flagged off the vehicles on Satuday.
Though the Srinagar-Leh highway was already opened in March but fresh spells of snow again blocked the highway. It was herculean task for Project Beacon of BRO to clear snow from 11,516ft high Zijila pass. The BRO jawans had to face extreme weather conditions. Last year the Srinagar-Leh road was thrown open for traffic on May 13. The edges of the highway on Zojila are still protected by 10 to 20ft high walls of snow. Travelers will get to experience a thrilling journey with high walls of snow on both sides of the highway. A tunnel is proposed to be built below the Zojila pass which will make the Srinagar-Leh highway all-weather.
UPDATE AS ON 12 May 2016
BRO works on final stretch near Baralacha to make Manali-Leh highway motorable
Over 90% of the 474-km-long Manali-Leh highway has been made motorable by BRO and the jawans are now clearing snow near 16,050ft high Baralacha pass. Baralacha has 10 to 30ft thick layer of snow. While 252-km stretch between Leh and Sarchu is already clear, BRO is concentrating on cutting snow from 32km stretch from Baralacha to Sarchu. If weather remains favourable, BRO officials are confident to clear snow from entire Manali-Leh highway in next 10 days.
UPDATE AS ON 20 May 2016
BRO announces to open Manali-Leh highway from May 22
The strategic Manali-Leh highway which was closed for traffic in November last year following heavy snowfall will be opened for vehicular movement on Sunday (May 22), a BRO official told Discover Leh Ladakh.
Snow from the entire length of highway has been cleared and the traffic will be allowed after minor surfacing works. Last year the highway was opened for traffic on June 13, but this year the road is opening little earlier due to less snowfall compared to last year. Border Roads Organization (BRO) is responsible for maintenance of the 474km-long Manali-Leh highway and BRO’s 38 Border Road Task Force (BRTF) maintains the road till Sarchu, 222km from here. While the road between Sarchu and Leh was already opened due to less snowfall in Ladakh region, opening the highway between Manali and Sarchu is the most tedious task due to heavy snowfall in the region.
“Snow has been cleared from Manali-Sarchu highway and we are now engaged in maintenance of damaged portions. Traffic can move on the highway from May 22,” 38 BRTF commander Colonel KP Rajendra Kumar said. He added that the condition of road between Rohtang and Koksar and Sarchu and Baralacha pass is being improved. “We shall be working for next one week to improve the road surface condition.”
The snow clearance operation on Manali-Leh highway had started on March 1 from Beas Nullah near Manali. BRO was earlier expecting to open the Manali-Leh highway in April but inclement weather conditions with heavy snowfall in March and prolonged winter season made it challenging task for BRO jawans to open the highway on time. Despite so many challenges, 30 to 40ft thick layers of snow near Baralacha and Rohtang, BRO succeeded in opening the highway in time.
Manali-Leh highway is an important link for Indian Army to stay connected with the bordering areas with China and Pakistan. The highway is also important lifeline for people of Lahaul valley and plays an important role in tourism of Ladakh. The highway, due to its scenic beauty, many high mountain passes, availability of snow for most time of the year, challenging hair pin bends, thrilling driving experience and fast changing landscapes attract thousands of tourists ever year.
Discover Leh Ladakh wishes all the best to the travelers. Though the traffic on road will be allowed from May 22, we advise everyone to drive only after May 23 to get the better road conditions. And yes, don’t forget to obtain permit to cross Rohtang pass from Manali SDM office. Photo copies of RC, PUC and Driving license and duly filled application form are required to submit at the office. Those who will have no permit will not be allowed to cross the check post at Gulaba.
Manali-Leh highway closes officially
November 15, 2016: Manali-Leh highway has been declared officially closed by local administration since November 15, 2016.
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