At 3978 m, it is easily one of the highest mountain pass! A 51 km drive from Manali and one of the main attractions in the state of Himachal Pradesh, Rohtang Pass got its name from its very own nature during the harsh winter season. Rohtang means ‘pile of corpses’. This is because once many people died trying to cross the pass during that period. But during summer and till autumn, when the pass gets officially opened every year, the snow capped mountains and the beautiful greenery, leaves a unique mark in the minds of travelers. The Beas river which originates from the Himalayas, flows through the Southern face of the pass at a height of 4361 metres (14308 ft).
The Rohtang pass lies between valleys with different cultures. The Kullu Valley towards the south with more of Hindu culture and the high altitude Lahul and Spiti valleys towards the north with more of Budhist culture. The pass is an ancient trade route between people on either side of the Pir Panchal region.
We have visited this place on 2nd July 2015 and we were lucky to have escaped the monsoon rains. The sun shone brighter and it was end of summer. Still we found snow.
The Ride from Manali..!!
The National Green Tribunal(NGT) has given temporary relaxation for 1,000 tourists vehicles (600 petrol and 400 diesel) for Rohtang Pass. You will have to buy the passes a day before. The worst part is you need luck to buy a pass as the passes are bought by the taxi union in Manali,
The best time to start off from Manali is early morning. Snow jackets, Boots and Gloves can be hired on the way to stay warm. Once you start climbing the hills the roads become narrow and dangerous. One will have to be very careful to drive through this road. Higher up, there are no trees but rocks and snow. The mountains are bare and in many places only a small road is cut from steep mountains. It takes a minimum 3 hour drive which can go up to 6 during peak traffic but on the way the breathtaking views shows you mother Nature at her best.
There are numerous Tea/coffee shops which can serve you some snacks and of course the re-emerged Maggi noodles which has become the most common snack/light food in most of the Hill stations of India.
Roads leading to Rohtang
At the snow point of Rohtang pass, activities like snow scooter ride, skiing and sledging can be seen. One can either drive alone (of course you need to rent it) or can take a tourist guide together. The snow activities offer a thrill to all the adventure freaks and is a must try. Also do ensure that you don’t strain much. The air is thin and icy. Breathing is not so difficult because of the high altitude. But you get a feel of uneasiness when you climb the slopes. The snow point also has numerous shops to rejuvenate yourself with hot beverages and snacks.
The snow point of Rohtang pass
Obtaining the Vehicle Permit
Permits can be obtained on first come first serve basis everyday including Sundays and holidays at Tourist Information Centre, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., one day in advance.
The vehicles shall be allowed to cross Gulaba Barrier between 6 a.m. and 12 noon only. At Gulaba each vehicle will have to pay Congestion Charges of Rs.50 per vehicle.
Tourist may book HRTC bus ticket for Rohtang at HRTC bus stand, Manali. Daily 14-16 buses to go Rohtang Pass. The Himachal Taxi Operators Union, Manali has also been issued permit in advance for better management of traffic. The union office is located at Mall Road, Manali (01902252926, 252110).We stayed at HoneyMoon Inn,Manali.
When to go…
Rohtang Pass is open only during May to November every year. It is a great place to escape the hot Summer season. Snow can be found at high altitudes even towards to the end of Summer. Nature lovers, Trekkers, Bikers and Photographers will certainly experience bliss.
Manali is easily accessible by road from Shimla. Numerous buses ply from Delhi, Chandigarh or Shimla to Manali.
The nearest Railway station is Jogindernagar which is the terminal point of 163 KM long Kangra valley Narrow gauge rail head. The other important stations are Chandigarh and Ambala which is around 300 KM from Manali.
The nearest Airport is Bhuntur Domestic Airport, Kullu or Chandigarh International Airport
Some fun we had, snow scooter ride
Some tips from our experience
- Carry your breakfast from the hotel you stay. Enjoying your breakfast at snow point,Rohtang is a feel good experience.
- Take spare batteries and memory card for your cameras.
- Do not take any guides with you.
- Your Manali trip is incomplete if you have not visited Rohtang pass