The route was expected to open before April 15, but the frequent spells of snowfall at Rohtang pass has pushed back its re-opening by one and half month. As per the fresh reports from Rohtang on May 17, the pass is expected to be open for traffic by last week of this month.
The Shimla-Sangla-Spiti-Manali circuit is one of the thrilling jeep safari routes in the world, but most foreign visitors prefer mountain biking (cycling). Chandertal, Batal, Jispa, Losar, Kaza and Tabo are best known for camping. Apart from this, all the mountaineering and trekking expeditions are planned in the Lahaul-Spiti and Rohtang pass area.
With fresh snow blocking almost all the known routes, adventure enthusiasts are either cancelling their programmes or are constrained to change their itinerary by missing the Lahaul-Spiti stretch.
According to the database of Himachal vacation travel company: “We have got series of cancellations, which translates into losing business worth lakhs of rupees every day. All activities between Manali, Lahaul-Spiti, Leh and Kinnaur have been postponed or cancelled till May 25.”
Manali-based trekking guide Vishal Thakur sees heavy snowfall as a boon for domestic tourism. ”We are getting more visitors at snow points of Manali, while skiers would be able to enjoy the sport till late summer. Though there are takers for short leg trek routes for domestic travellers, serious adventure enthusiasts from West Bengal, England, USA, Japan, France and Australia may have to wait for a month,” Sharma pointed out.
Photo: A snowcutter machine engaged in work near Rohtang pass
In Kaza (Spiti), the tourism industry is already feeling the pinch of being cut-off by the snow. Employees of hotels in Kaza, Keylong and Jispa would have had to extend their holidays. “Lots of inquiries are pouring in, but we are only accepting bookings after May,” said Ravi Thakur, owner of Hotel Ibex in Jispa. Last year, the Border Roads Organization had restored traffic across Rohtang pass on April 15 but this time they have a patch of 10 km to clear as yet. BRO commander AK Dixit said, “We have cleared the snow beyond Rahni Nullah (Kullu) and Gramphu (Lahaul). The traffic is likely to resume in the last week of May,” he added.