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Rohtang Pass, Himachal Pradesh

Rohtang Pass

Visitors enjoying snow sports at Rohtang Pass.

The Rohtang Pass connects Kullu Valley to Spiti and Lahaul. It lies on the Pir Panjal Range The NH-21 passes through Rohtang Pass. The Pass also serves as a connection to Pangi and the Leh valley. Translated to English, the name Rohtang means ‘pile of corpses’- an indication of the deaths that have occurred on this pass.

The Road to Rohtang

From Manali, Rohtang Pass is 51 kilometers away. A shared cab takes the visitor to Rohtang. These cabs leave early in the morning to avoid the traffic rush. Start a little late, and you are stuck for hours in what seems like miles of endless cars. Despite deterrents like landslides, traffic jams and altitude sickness, Rohtang sees a lot of visitors – 2.5 million every year. For those who are seasoned mountaineers, a trip to Rohtang is the cherry on the cake. Even for the rest, whose physical fitness does not allow such an arduous journey, making a trip only to Kullu offering views of snow-clad peaks beyond Rohtang Pass, would be like looking at heaven through a gleaming glass door, and yet not turning the knob to go in.

As Rohtang Pass draws near, signs of green start to disappear. All one sees are winding roads cut on the sides of steep bare mountains. 16 kilometers before Rohtang is Marhi- the last town before reaching Rohtang Pass. Here, all buses and cars stop on their way to the Pass. Tiny roadside shacks selling tea and snacks dot the roadside doing brisk business. Marhi is an excellent spot for paragliders. The ever-changing weather and the steep hills make paragliding more challenging here.

Coats, Boots and Sticks- On Rent

At Marhi, several shops loan out warm attires and mountain gear suitable to the climes. This is not simply a scheme to fleece gullible tourists. It is imperative to wear heavy coats and boots on the Rohtang Pass. Otherwise the happiness at such a beautiful altitude is short-lived. Unless dressed in the right gear, the chill soon seeps inside leaving a person numb and in pain.

Traffic is backed up for miles on the 16 kilometer stretch that leads to Rohtang pass from here. From here on, it is a game of patience. Many travelers lose patience or may be their nerves, at the thought of wrestling steep uncertain roads and an unrelenting stream of vehicles.

Another danger a visitor needs to be forewarned of is cloudbursts. The foggy weather in the area is prone to sudden rainstorms that makes the already difficult terrain even more impossible to navigate.

On Reaching Rohtang Pass

Rohtang Pass is a field of hardened snow. There is fresh snowfall too. Young people rush to the road that leads up to Leh. Many walk uphill for quite some distance. Many however, may have respiratory problems. At an altitude of 3980 meters, the thin air may lead to labored breathing for the unaccustomed.

Activities

  • Skiing and squad biking are very popular here. Some enterprising people have also carved snowmen and dug out heart-shapes on ice walls. Photographers at Rohtang Pass, pursue wandering couples and persuade them to take pictures in front of these snow-sculptures. These photographs get delivered the next day at the address of your hotel.
  • Riding on caparisoned yaks is yet another attraction here. Wandering further towards the path that leads to Leh, visitors can see tiny colorful flowers budding in the foot of the mountains. Looking like they have sprung from a bed of underlying grass – these purple, yellow and pink champions – add a little summer color to the cold place, and lift the spirits. The winters, however, see the beauties leave.

Sunset

As evening falls, the golden rays play the glass harp on mountain tops. The white field transforms, but fleetingly, into a flaxen meadow. One by one, all the tourist taxis return to Manali.

Tips for those visiting Rohtang Pass

1. Definitely plan to start very early in the morning. A late start would mean having to park behind several other vehicles – almost a couple of kilometers away from the Snow Point. Walking the distance in the freezing cold is definitely not a pleasant task.
2. Do check the rates for renting snow clothes, skis, and snow scooters or hiring a guide before going to the Pass. If not, chances of being swindled by the driver of the vehicle, who is in cahoots with local renting stores, are high.
3. In spite of the rental clothes available, make sure to carry warm clothes, especially thermal inner wear and woolen socks, monkey-caps, double layer gloves, and a couple of very warm sweaters.
4. At a height of more than 13000 feet, Rohtang Pass may cause altitude sickness. Check if genetic predisposition or some health condition makes the journey unsafe.
5. Medicines that allay altitude sickness can also be kept handy.
6. It is a good idea to ascend slowly in order to acclimatize oneself to the mountain air. A couple of days’ halt at Shimla, followed by a halt at Manali is advisable, before proceeding to the Rohtang Pass.
7. Drinking plenty of water to avoid dehydration helps.

Rohtang Pass Map

Rohtang Pass Location Map

Map showing location of Rohtang Pass

Facts about Rohtang Pass

1. The pass not only connects two regions but also two cultures. The Kullu Valley is Hindu dominated whereas Buddhism dominates the Lahaul and Spiti Valleys.
2.The Beas river emerges on the southern side of the pass and flows southward. The Chandra River flows northward.
3. Rohtang Pass was used as a trade route in ancient times.
4. Construction of an 8.8 kilometer tunnel under Rohtang pass is underway. Though it will definitely improve the traffic conditions at Rohtang Pass, travelers opting for the tunnel will miss out on the scenic vistas.

Where is Rohtang Pass?

The Rohtang Pass is located in the state of Himachal Pradesh, 51 kilometers from Manali on the highway to Keylong.

Reach by Air:

The nearest international airport is the Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi. Book a flight from there to the Bhuntar Airport also known as the Kullu Manali Airport or the Kullu Airport. From there a cab will take you to your Manali. From Manali, several share-taxis run to Rohtang Pass.

Reach by Rail:

The nearest broad gauge railway station is in Una in Himachal Pradesh. From Una, a cab will tak you to Rohtang pass in around 5 hours – a distance of 330 kilometers.

Best time to visit Rohtang Pass

The best time to visit Rohtang Pass is from May to October. The pass remains closed in the winter months.

Rohtang Pass Hours

Set off early in the morning to avoid the traffic rush.

Rohtang Pass Tickets

There are no tickets to visit Rohtang pass. But a visitor needs to rent warm clothes and boots. The rates of these are fixed by the Government.
The last known rates are as follows.
1. Warm coat, snow shoes and stick (set) INR 100 per person per day
2. Skiing Dress. INR150/ person/ day
3. Ski Dress with Ski Pair. INR 350/ person/ day
4. Ski Dress with Ski Pair. INR 350 + 150= INR 500 (with guide)
5. Snow Scooters
(i) 5-10 minutes ride. INR 500
(ii) 10-20 minutes. INR 1000
(iii) 20-30 minutes. INR1500
6. Horse Ride. INR 200
Please check the latest rates before heading to the destination.

More on Rohtang Pass

What are the coordinates of Rohtang Pass ?

The coordinates of Rohtang Pass are 32.3714° N, 77.2464° E.

What are the attractions near Rohtang Pass ?

Other places to visit near Rohtang Pass are Hadimba Temple, Rahalla Falls, Manu Temple, several monasteries, Manali Gompa, Vashisht, Jagatsukh, Solang Valley, Kothi, Manikaran, and Naggar.


Image creditsMiya.m

Published On: Tuesday, January 20th, 2015