Atal Rohtang Tunnel (Rohtang Tunnel)
Atal Tunnel

On this page, we shall keep you updated about all happenings, news, work progress, history, VIP visits and everything happening at Atal Rohtang Tunnel (Rohtang Tunnel) in Manali. Work on Atal Rohtang Tunnel, an 8.8km long engineering marvel connecting Manali with Lahaul on Manali-Leh highway, started on June 28, 2010 and it will be dedicated to the nation by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in September 2020.

Timeline of sequence of events at Atal Rohtang Tunnel


August 06, 2020: Tunnel renamed as Atal Rohtang Tunnel

The tunnel has again been renamed as Atal Rohtang Tunnel. Previously it was renamed from Rohtang tunnel to Atal Tunnel. Now it’s official name is Atal Rohtang Tunnel.

July 24, 2020: DGBR's third visit in the year

Director General Border Roads (DGBR) Lt Gen Harpal Singh again visited the Atal Tunnel on Friday to review the ongoing works that are close to completion. The DGBR was accompanied by the joint secretary (Border Roads Organization) from the Ministry of Defence Satish Singh.

July 19, 2020: Helipads at both ends of Atal Tunnel

Himachal government said it will build two helipads at both ends (portals) of the Atal Tunnel at Dhundi and near Gufa hotel. This will facilitate in conducting rescue operations and providing relief in case of emergency. Provision of budget from this will be made from Rs 711 crore Tribal Sub-plan for the current year.


July 12, 2020: ADGBR visits Atal Tunnel

Additional Director General Border Roads Anil Kumar visited both portals of the Atal Tunnel to take stock of the current work progress as Defence Minister Rajnath Singh is proposed to visit the tunnel on July 17.

July 2, 2020: CM visits tunnel

Chief minister Jai Ram Thakur on Thursday after visiting 8.8km-long Atal Tunnel said Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit Manali to inaugurate the tunnel in first week of September. CM first held a meeting with officials of Border Roads Organization (BRO) at Atal Tunnel headquarters near Solang valley and directed them to ensure completion of the pending works by end of August. He then visited the tunnel along with cabinet ministers Dr Ram Lal Markanda and Govind Thakur and took stock of the ongoing works in final stage.

June 16, 2020: DG again visits tunnel

Director General Border Roads (DGBR) Lt Gen Harpal Singh has again visited Dhundi to review the ongoing works of Rohtang tunnel on Tuesday. Almost all the civil works including flooring works in tunnel have completed and electrical and some other mechanical works are expected to complete within three months. This is his first visit to the tunnel after lockdown but second visit this year. Despite all odds of lockdown and keeping all works shut for nearly a month, the final works inside the tunnel are continuing on war footing to meet the deadline of September when PM Narendra Modi is expected to visit the tunnel for inauguration.

March 24, 2020: Works stopped amid Covid-19 crisis

The works on under-construction Atal Rohtang Tunnel, which will be inaugurated by PM Narendra Modi in September, have also been suspended as a preventive measure against Covid-19. An official said that the work will resume after improvement in the current situation.

February 27, 2020: Atal Tunnel closed till inauguration

Atal tunnel, which was proving a lifeline for the people in need in snow-bound Lahaul valley in winter months, has been closed completely for all kind of movement, including for ambulances. The tunnel will now open in September after its inauguration by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. According to Rohtang tunnel project authority, the ambitious project is in its final stage and the tunnel has been closed due to ongoing full-width paving. The surfacing works will continue for a few months and no traffic movement including ambulances would be allowed to ensure quality work. The remaining electrical and mechanical works are also underway.

February 26, 2020: DGBR's visit to tunnel

As Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit Manali for the inauguration of 8.8km-long Atal Rohtang tunnel by September this year, the Defence Ministry and PMO are closely monitoring the remaining works of the tunnel. On Wednesday, Director General Border Roads (DGBR) Lt Gen Harpal Singh visited the tunnel and reviewed the ongoing works.

December 25, 2019: Rohtang Tunnel named as Atal Tunnel

As the nation paid tribute to former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on his 95th birth anniversary, chief minister Jai Ram Thakur with people of Manali organized a special puja and launched various government schemes in the name of Vajpayee. He, after a nod from the Centre, announced to name Rohtang Tunnel as Atal Tunnel as a tribute to the Vajpayee as he was considered the man behind the tunnel who had conceived its idea long back.

October 4, 2019: September 2020 is new deadline

The 8.8km-long Rohtang tunnel will be opened for general traffic movement by September 2020 while tunnel will be opened for emergency purpose after October 31 this year, Rohtang tunnel project chief engineer KP Purushothaman said on Friday.

September 24, 2019: DGBR visits Atal Tunnel

Amid Himachal government’s claim to open Rohtang tunnel for general traffic movement by December this year, the director general of Border Roads Organization (BRO) Lt Gen Harpal Singh reviewed the ongoing works of the tunnel on Tuesday.

June 6, 2019: DGBR visits tunnel

The director general of Border Roads Organization (BRO) Lt Gen Harpal Singh on Wednesday reviewed the ongoing works of Rohtang tunnel which has already missed its many deadlines.

April 21, 2019: Tunnel opened for Lahaul residents for election

Amidst threats to boycott the Lok Sabha election and to stage protest over unavailability of emergency helicopter service to snow-bound Lahaul, the under-construction 8.8km-long Rohtang tunnel was opened for tribals on Sunday. After getting a nod from the Ministry of Defence and election commission, nearly 450 persons traversed the tunnel to travel between Kullu and Lahaul.

November 16, 2018: DGBR visits Rohtang Tunnel

Border Roads Organization (BRO) director general Lt Gen Harpal Singh on Friday visited both the portals of under-construction 8.8km-long Rohtang tunnel to take stock of the ongoing works.

September 30, 2018: Over 5,000 evacuated through tunnel

Over 5,000 people including tourists and workers who had stranded in Lahaul, Spiti and along Keylong-Leh highway were evacuated through Rohtang tunnel. Hundreds of vehicles were also evacuated through the tunnel.

July 27, 2018: CM use Atal tunnel to reach Lahaul

As Union minister for road transport, highways and shipping Nitin Gadkari’s programme to visit the Atal Tunnel was cancelled due to inclement weather conditions, Himachal chief minister Jai Ram Thakur crossed 8.8km-long Atal Tunnel (Rohtang Tunnel), attended a public meeting at Sissu in Lahaul, and returned back to Manali on the same day which would have otherwise taken two days by road via Rohtang pass. Realizing the dream of tribals of Lahaul to do both way journey to valley in one day after bypassing Rohtang pass, CM became first non-emergency person to cross the tunnel.


April 1, 2018: Workers go on indefinite strike

Already delayed by more than three years, the work of strategically important 8.8km-long Rohtang tunnel has been stopped by its workers who have resorted to indefinite strike since March 27, blaming tunnel project for ignoring labour laws. Over 500 workers engaged in different works at both portals of the tunnel have threatened not to resume the work until their demands are fulfilled.

March 18, 2018: DGBR visits Atal Tunnel

Strategically important 8.8km-long Rohtang tunnel will be devoted to the service of the country in time, director general border roads Lt Gen SK Shrivastava said. He visited under construction Rohtang tunnel on Sunday and took stock of the various works in progress.

October 25, 2017: 6.5 lakh KG explosives to make Atal tunnel reality

Country’s first hi-tech tunnel in most challenging geography saw a breakthrough after consuming whopping over 6.5 lakh kilogram of explosives that were used in New Austrian Tunneling Method (NATM), a BRO official informed.

October 15, 2017: Defence Minister visits Atal tunnel

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman visited strategically important 8.8-km-long Atal Rohtang Tunnel today and entered the tunnel to take stock of various works undertaken by Border Roads Organization (BRO). Her visit was secret and she did not meet anybody due to model code of conduct coming into effect in Himachal Pradesh.

October 12, 2017: Rs 1,860 crore spent on project

As the Atal Rohtang Tunnel Project has achieved a breakthrough in the tunnel, Rs 1,860 crore have been spent on various works so far while the sanctioned project budget is Rs 4,035 crore, an official said.

October 11, 2017: Boring of Atal Tunnel completes

Boring of the Atal Tunnel has completed as breakthrough in the tunnel was achieved on Wednesday at 6:29pm. A final blast in the middle of the tunnel connected its both the ends. At above 10,000ft from sea level, Rohtang tunnel has officially become the longest tunnel of the country at this altitude. The tunnel has also proved most challenging project due to extreme weather conditions and tough terrains. The work on the tunnel had started on June 28, 2010 with expected completion time of five years. Geographical challenges delayed the project by four years. Despite tunneling continuing day and night from both the ends, digging of the tunnel completed after 87 months. The final finishing works, electrical and mechanical works will take two more years to complete.

September 2, 2017: Defence Ministry officials visit Atal Tunnel

Bharat Khera, joint secretary, air, ceremonial and border roads, visited south and north portals of Rohtang tunnel during his two days visit and he took stock of the work progress from both sides in Kullu and Lahaul valley.

July 26, 2017: Cloudburst washes away road

Cloudburst in Dhundi area in Manali washed away approach road to Rohtang tunnel at two places bringing the traffic movement on this highway to complete standstill.

June 22, 2017: ADGBR visits tunnel

PK Mahajan, Additional Director General Border Roads Organization, visited both portals of the Rohtang tunnel to take stock of the current work progress. He visited south portal of the tunnel at Dhundi on Wednesday and north portal of the tunnel today.

June 2, 2017: 850m tunneling remains

The breakthrough in strategically important 8.8km-long Rohtang tunnel (now Atal Tunnel) is expected to delay by a month or two as engineers still have nearly 850m tunnel to dig and the current excavation speed is about 6 metre a day.

November 14, 2016: Addl Defence Secretary visits Atal Tunnel

Additional secretary from defence ministry J Rama Krishna Rao took stock of the works in progress at both the portals of the Rohtang tunnel on Monday. The engineers briefed him in detail the various works being undertaken to speed up the work and assured him of breakthrough in tunnel by July next year.

November 4, 2016: Deputy DGBR visits tunnel

Deputy Director General Border Roads (headquarter), New Delhi, Anil Kumar visited both south and north portals of Rohtang tunnel on Friday to take stock of the progress of the tunnel works and suggested some ideas to speed up the work.

August 30, 2016: Bridge connecting tunnel collapsed

A 170ft-long bailey bridge over Chandra river that was built to provide access to under-construction Rohtang tunnel (Atal Tunnel) near Sissu village of Lahaul has collapsed on Monday evening when a supply truck was crossing over the bridge. Rohtang tunnel project chief engineer DN Bhatt said driver of the truck came out safely. Bridge has collapsed and its both piers have also been damaged partially. The bridge was connecting the north portal of tunnel with Manali-Leh highway where labour camps were established.

January 13, 2016: Seri Nullah fault zone done

About 650 metre loose strata section with huge water leakage was a challenge for engineers which delayed the excavation for over three years. Now this particular area, the Seri Nullah fault zone, has been excavated, and engineers have moved beyond it and digging process shall get good pace

November 12, 2015: Atal Tunnel to cost Rs 3,000 crore

Work to dig 8.8km-long Rohtang tunnel was started on June 28, 2010 and tunnel was expected to be ready for traffic by 2015. As many geological challenges are the reason that the project has been delayed by four years, the project cost has also increased. According to officials, Rs 1,200 crore have already been spent on the project and about Rs 1,800 crore are required to execute the remaining works and make the tunnel motorable by 2019.

November 6, 2015: Atal Tunnel's deadline slips to 2019

Director General Border Roads (DGBR) Lt Gen RM Mittal said Atal Tunnel (formerly known as Rohtang tunnel) will complete by 2019.

November 6, 2015: DGBR inaugurates bridge on Atal Tunnel approach road

Director General Border Roads (DGBR) Lt Gen RM Mittal inaugurated a 206 metre long bridge on connecting road to the south portal of the tunnel. The bridge is built at cost of Rs 10.56 crore with a technology that is used in the country for the first time. He said that engineers are now concentrating on building of 12 avalanche control structures on approach road to the tunnel before completing the excavation.

October 8, 2015: Strike by workers hit project hard

Complete strike by workers of Rohtang tunnel project has badly affected the work of this strategically important tunnel. Strike, which was called after a construction company engaged in tunneling work dismissed a worker, has entered 15th day. Tunnel is already expected to delay by three years and strike has brought all the works to complete standstill.

August 12, 2014: DGBR visits Atal Rohtang Tunnel

While Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday slammed Pakistan for continuing its terrorism activities and recalled the Kargil war during his visit to Ladakh, Border Roads Organization (BRO) director general Lt General AT Parnaik took stock of work progress in strategically important Rohtang tunnel and Manali-Leh highway.

March 9, 2014: Deadline increased by one more year

Completion time of strategically important Rohtang tunnel has increased by one more year. Engineers have accused the tough geographical and weather conditions of this delay. Tunneling was earlier to be finished by 2015 but now it will not be ready before 2017.

July 17, 2013: 3.5km boring done

With every inch engineers cut through the mighty Himalayas, engineering challenges in digging of strategically important 8.8-km-long under construction Rohtang tunnel are increasing due to unstoppable flow of water that is seeping at many places inside the tunnel. Despite this, 3.5km of the tunnel has been excavated and the work has been speeded up to meet the target of 2016. As on Wednesday, 2,000 meter tunnel is ready from south portal (Manali side) and 1,570 meter tunnel has been excavated from north portal in Lahaul.

December 21, 2012: DGBR visits tunnel

Amidst the tussle between nature and engineers of Rohtang tunnel, Director General Border Roads (DGBR) Lt Gen AT Parnaik visited south portal of tunnel and took stock of the development of work for the first time on Thursday.

November 18, 2012: Loss of 1.5km tunnel

Problems of engineers of strategically important Rohtang tunnel seem not to be ending soon as high water ingress and loose rocks have decreased the speed of digging the tunnel more than 10 times the normal since the last ten months. The natural challenges that the engineers are facing have pushed back the digging progress by 1.5km in last nine months.

August 23, 2012: Project likely to delay by one year

The Rohtang Tunnel (Atal Tunnel) project is expected to delay by one year. Austrian and Indian engineers are facing a new constraint. They cannot dig the tunnel more than a meter in a day. It has two reasons. The continuous water inflow—up to 35 liters per second – is not allowing them to chase their target. Loose-rock strata is another problem. Excessive digging of mixture of mud and rock may result in collapsing of the tunnel. All these factors have confined the excavation work to 0.5 meter excavation per day on average as compare to the 5 meter excavation in normal circumstances.


August 1, 2012: Digging reduced from 5m to 0.5m

The continuous and heavy water inflow inside the under-construction strategically important Rohtang tunnel (now Atal Tunnel) has lagged behind the work by over one precious month and the problems are expected to worsen after digging few more meters when main source of water (Seri rivulet) would flood into the tunnel. Speed of the excavation has reduced from 5m to 0.5m every day which is a real matter of concern for engineers.

June 7, 2012: DGBR visits tunnel

Director General Border Roads (DGBR) Lt Gen S Ravi Shankar on Thursday visited Manali and Lahaul to take stock of work progress on Rohtang tunnel and Manali-Sarchu highway. His visit was scheduled following heavy water seepage and loose rock material that badly affected the digging of the tunnel and BRO DG himself reached here to check the current conditions.

June 4, 2012: Water leakage and loose strata delay digging speed

Two years after the smooth digging of the mountain at an elevation of 10,170 feet, the tunneling now has turned into struggle as high volume seepage of water is all set to push back the engineers. Not just high water ingress but loose rock strata has slowed down the excavation speed. Boring of 2,750m tunnel is complete.

May 11, 2012: Strike for two weeks delay work

Strike by workers for two weeks delayed the project. Workers were convinced to return to the work.

February 17, 2012: 2,564m tunneling done

1,809 meter tunnel has been excavated from south portal and 755 meter from north portal in Lahaul valley, with total of 2,564m.

February 15, 2012: Engineers ready to face underground river

“We would pass by a river after the excavation of about 250 meters more. We shall come across under-ground flowing Seri Rivulet. However, digging the tunnel through rivers is common nowadays but this time we are doing this at an average height of 10,170 feet and sub-zero temperatures. Main challenge will be to prevent tunnel from flooding,” Rohtang tunnel project chief engineer PK Mahajan said.

September 10, 2011: High-tech machines from Germany

To speed up the digging of the tunnel, new high-tech machinery has been imported from Germany which has reached the tunnel site. The machines have been put into work.

September 9, 2011: 1,621 meter tunneling done

1,261 meter tunnel has been excavated from south portal in Manali and 360 meter has been dug from north portal in Lahaul. A total of 1,621m tunnel has been dug so far.

July 21, 2011: Cloudburst killed 3, some went missing

Three persons were killed, 22 injured while five went missing after flashflood triggered by cloudburst at MSP-7 near South portal of Rohtang Tunnel on intervening night of Wednesday and Thursday.

July 14, 2011: Workers go on strike

The workers of Rohtang Tunnel (Atal Tunnel) went on strike after alleging that company was not providing them with basic facilities which they deserved. Workers condemned the difference in treatment between employees of different origin and demanded equal treatment, timing for work inside tunnel and other facilities. The management lodged FIR against worker leader.

July 6, 2011: Work started from North Portal

After south portal of the tunnel at Dhundi in Manali, the digging of the tunnel has started from the north portal in Lahaul.

June 30, 2011: 1 KM tunneling done

Boring of about 1 km of the tunnel has been completed.

June 6, 2011: Western Command chief visits Atal Tunnel

In the wake of security threats across the border areas with Spiti and Ladakh, chief of western command reviewed the progress of
Rohtang tunnel on Monday. Lt general SR Ghosh, AVSM, SM, ADC, general officer commanding-in-chief of western command visited the Rohtang tunnel with other high-rank officers. About 1km tunnel has been excavated by now
and soon the work was going to begin from the north portal of the tunnel in Lahaul.

March 22, 2011: Avalanche kills two

Two persons were killed when a huge avalanche hit their jeep at MSP-5 on Solang-Rohtang tunnel highway on Tuesday morning. Both
were the employees of Strabag Afcons joint venture, the company that is main contractor for the construction of Rohtang highway tunnel.

Sept 28, 2010: Petrol Pump at Tunnel site

Indian Oil Corporation Ltd., the leader in the downstream petroleum business, installed ‘Strabag-Afcons Joint Venture Consumer Pump’ at south portal of strategically important Rohtang Tunnel Project in Dhundi, some 30 km north of Manali.

June 28, 2010: Sonia Gandhi lays foundation stone of Atal Tunnel

UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, in her capacity as National Advisory Council chief, laid foundation stone of the Rohtang tunnel (now Atal Tunnel) in presence of Defence Minister AK Antony, Himachal chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal, Union Minister for Steel Virbhadra Singh and many other politicians and officials at Dhundi, about 25km north of Manali town. With this ceremony, digging of the Rohtang tunnel started from its south portal in Dhundi. This tunnel will bypass Rohtang tunnel, reducing travel time on Manali-Leh highway by about 46km. The tunnel will facilitate easy access of military to Ladakh and will provide all-weather connectivity to Lahaul valley. The tunnel is expected to be completed at a cost of Rs 1,700 crore in five years.

Atal Tunnel Specifications

  • Project Cost (As on 13 July, 2020): INR 3,500 Crore
  • Length of Atal Tunnel: 8.8 KM
  • Mountain Range: Pir Panjal
  • Distance of tunnel from Manali: 25 KM
  • Distance of tunnel from Keylong: 40 KM
  • Distance of tunnel from Rohtang pass: 26 KM
  • Shape of tunnel: Horseshoe
  • Tunnel method: New Austria Tunneling Method (NATM) which uses drilling, blasting and digging
  • Width of tunnel: 10m
  • Altitude of the tunnel: 9,840ft to 10,170ft
  • Tunnel designed for vehicular speed: 80 km per hour
  • Temperature at south portal of Atal Tunnel at Dhundi: 28 degrees C (summers) to – 20 degrees C (winters)
  • Temperature at north portal of Atal Tunnel near Sissu in Lahaul: 30 degrees C (summers) to – 30 degrees C (winters)
  • Overburden: Maximum overburden (Pir Panjal mountain range) of 1,900m and average of over 600m
  • Emergency escape route: An emergency tunnel (2.25m high and 3.6m wide) is running below the main carriageway/highway
  • Vehicle capacity: 3,000 cars and 1,500 trucks
  • Designed speed: Maximum speed of 80 km per hour and minimum speed of 30 km per hour.

Features of Atal Tunnel

  • The approach road to Atal tunnel is being secured by avalanche protection structures at avalanche-prone sites.
  • Besides emergency exit tunnel below main tunnel, high efficiency fire sensing and extinguishing mechanism is being installed.
  • A semi-transverse ventilation system.
  • CCTV cameras being placed at regular distance.
  • Pollution monitoring system.
  • Public announcement system (speakers).
  • Telephone facility.
  • High-efficiency automatic lights that will turn off automatically if no movement inside the tunnel. This will save energy.

About Author

The Himalayan


Leave a Reply