Atal Tunnel, the world’s longest highway tunnel above 3,000m
Located on the eastern Pir Panjal Range of the Himalayas, in India, the Atal Tunnel (nicknamed as Rohtang Tunnel) is the world longest tunnel at an altitude above 3,000m.
The tunnel sits at an elevation of 3.100m (10,171ft) above the sea level and it’s part of the challenging 479 km (298 mi) Leh-Manali Highway. The whole tunnel is 8.8 km (5.5 mi) long and totally paved. The tunnel is 10.5 metres wide, including a 1-metre footpath on both sides. The excavation of the tunnel was completed in October 2017 and on Oct 3rd 2020 was inaugurated by India´s Prime Minister Narendra Modri. There are CCTV cameras at every 60 metres and emergency exit tunnels at every 500 metres inside the tunnel. The speed limit for cars using the tunnel has been set at 80 kmph. The tunnel is named after former Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
The tunnel bypasses the infamous Rohtang La, at 3.979m (13,054ft) above the sea level and reduces the distance between Manali and Keylong by about 46 km (28.6 mi). The construction was not easy. The most challenging task was to continue the excavation during heavy snowfall in winter when workers had to brave freezing weather, frequent floods and thin air. In addition, the construction workers faced the challenges of the inconvenience of transporting living and construction materials to the site. While it took 4 to 6 hours to ascend, negotiate and descend the Rohtang Pass, it takes now only about 30 minutes to travel through the tunnel.
Road suggested by: Jorge Manuel Gómez Sánchez
Pic: Agastya11 / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)