It’s unbelievable even to think that the 52 km mountainous journey to Rohtang pass is consuming eight to ten precious hours of tourists due to the frequent traffic jams.
Around 4,000 heavy, medium and small vehicles are reaching Rohtang every day. Unavailability of parking space, haste to reach the mountain top first and inexperienced driving are causing hours long traffic jam on the poor Manali-Rohtang highway. Tourists, locals, military and needy, everyone was becoming victim to it. Now the jams are shading its negative impacts on the tourism. Most of the exhausted tourists are returning back from midway without reaching Rohtang.
“Usually the uphill journey to Rohtang pass takes 2 hours and downhill journey takes 1.5 hours but sometime it is taking more than 10 hours these days,” said a taxi driver Yuvraj Bisht, adding that there are many reasons ignoring which were causing unbelievable jams. “Inadequate parking space is the main problem here. Everybody is forced to park his car on the highway. Tourists often stop at many places for photography or other reasons and park their vehicles on the highway which triggers kilometres long jam within few minutes” he said.
Annoyed by jams and returning back to Manali from midway, Sukhvinder Singh and Mamta Sidhu, tourists from Ludhiana told Discover Kullu Manali they had started at 5 am from Manali and they could cover only 33 km (Marhi) in 6 hours. “Driving on congested road to Rohtang is really terrible experience. My wife told me that we can get trapped in jams till late night at Rohtang pass, so we should return back to the town,” he adds. Singh said he had last visited Rohtang in 2001 when driving on the road was such a pleasant experience but now it has turned out to be a nightmare.
While few tourists were able to reach the picturesque Rohtang pass, many were satisfying themselves with little snow around Beas Nullah. Unable to reach their destination, they were helplessly gazing at the beautiful snow laden mountains at a distance of few kilometres from them. Thus the ride to Rohtang was now proving heart breaking journey for thousands of tourists.
Kullu police chief Abhishek Dular said the landslides between the highway were causing jams, otherwise, more than 80 policemen had been deployed for the smooth running of traffic. “Traffic congestion occurs when volume of traffic or modal split generates demand for space greater than the available road capacity, which is termed as saturation point. Our highways are carrying the traffic burden more than they are designed for. Even then we are trying our best to keep the traffic moving,” he said.