The Manali-Spiti road, which was closed since October after heavy winter snowfall, has been reopened for vehicular traffic as Border Roads Organization (BRO) has cleared snow from Gramphoo-Kaza stretch including 14,000ft high Kunzum pass.
This road connects with the Manali-Leh highway at Gramphoo, 16km north of Rohtang pass, and is a vital link to connect Lahaul valley with Spiti valley. The road further extends to Indo-China border at Sumdo. Known as one of the dangerous roads of the world, it is frequented by thousands of tourists every year.
Given its strategically importance, Border Roads Organization (BRO) took over the Sumdo-Kaza-Gramphoo road from public works department a few years back. This road is now called SKG (Sumdo-Kaza-Gramphoo) road. While road till Kaza remains open even during winters, two teams of BRO clears snow from 140km Kaza-Gramphoo stretch after March.
A BRO official said the snow from Spiti side was cleared till Kunzum pass many days back but clearing snow from Lahaul side was very challenging and took too much time.
“The very heavy snowfall this season delayed the opening of the road. We had to clear over 30ft of snow at some places. Last year the road was opened in May. The road was damaged at some places. A large number of avalanches have hit the road. Light vehicles can now ply the road and we are improving the surface condition,” he said.
Currently, the road is in bad condition, especially between Kunzum pass and Gramphoo. Ministry of Defence is considering widening of the highway for many years.
Local residents have also been demanding to improve the condition of the road as even large vehicles fail to negotiate some stretches with huge boulders laid on the surface.
Spiti is emerging as top tourist destinations of Himachal for its ancient monasteries, culture, snow leopard sighting, amazing landscapes and high altitude Chandertal Lake.
Spiti valley is connected by road from Shimla via Kinnaur and from Manali via Rohtang pass and Kunzum Pass. A large number of tourists make a round trip covering Kinnaur, Spiti and Manali.
The Chandertal lake (moon lake) is one of the large high altitude lakes of Himachal situated near Kunzum Pass in Spiti which is visited by thousands of tourists. The lake is just 7-8 hours drive from Manali.
Unfortunately, very few people dare to drive on this road due to its poor condition. A large portion of the road is a dirt track with huge boulders, some being over 15inch large, laid on the road which frequently hit the lower floors of the cars and jeeps. Even buses and trucks face difficulty in crossing some stretches.