Atal Tunnel – Highest Longest Traffic Tunnel in the World

atal tunnel

India Desk, Dellhi Magazine: The southern portal of the Atal Tunnel is built at a height of 3060 meters at a distance of 25 kilometers from Manali, while the northern portal is located at a height of 3071 meters near Teling, Sisu village in the Lahaul Valley. The horseshoe-shaped two-lane tunnel is  10.5 meters wide with 1 meter footpath for both sides and has a height of 5.525 metres.

Atal Tunnel 1

Atal Tunnel

Actually, the Atal Tunnel is the longest highway tunnel in the world and 9.02 Kilometers long tunnel will connect Manali to Lahaul-Spiti valley throughout the year. Earlier, the valley used to be cut off from the rest due to heavy snowfall for six months. The tunnel has been built at an altitude of about 3000 meters above sea level with state-of-the-art specifications amidst the mountain ranges of the Pir Panjal of the Himalayas.

The Atal Tunnel has been designed for 3000 cars and 1500 trucks per day with a maximum speed of 80 kmph. The government of Atal Bihari Vajpayee had decided to build this strategically important tunnel under the Rohtang Pass and the foundation stone of the link road on the southern portal of the tunnel was laid on 26 May 2002.

In December 2019, the Modi government had decided to name the tunnel Atal Tunnel in honor of the former Prime Minister, who passed away last year.

Atal Tunnel has elaborate arrangements for fire fighting, lighting and surveillance. There are barriers at both the entrances of this tunnel. There are telephones every 150 meters and fire extinguishers every 60 meters for emergency communication. For automatic detection of incidents, CCTV cameras are installed at every 250 meters and air quality monitoring system at every kilometer. There are emergency exit signs every 25 meters and broadcasting system has been installed throughout the tunnel. Cameras have also been installed in the tunnel every 60 meters.


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DRDO has also helped in making the design of this tunnel so that it is not affected by snow and avalanche. The traffic here should not be obstructed in any weather. CCTV cameras will be installed at a certain distance inside this tunnel, which will help in controlling speed and accidents. A fire hydrant has been arranged inside the tunnel every 200 meters. So that control can be found in case of fire.

Atal Tunnel Construction work by BRO

There is a two kilometer high mountain above the tunnel. Due to this, the tunnel had to be given a heavy support system. Indian and Austrian companies Straubeg and Afcon also coperated in the construction of the tunnel.

State-owned Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL) has supplied over 9,000 tonnes of steel for the Atal Tunnel in Rohtang. This is two-thirds of the total 15,000 tonnes of steel used in the project.

Technical Brochure on Atal Tunnel –

Important Date for Atal Tunnel

World’s longest Atal tunnel connecting Manali to Leh was completed in 10 years. Work was going on at a brisk pace on this tunnel. However, the construction of this tunnel has taken an additional time of 4 years from the scheduled time. Earlier the construction of this tunnel was scheduled to be completed in 6 years. Due to Corona, its work was stopped for a short time.

The feasibility study for the Atal Tunnel was first conducted in 1990. The foundation for the access road to the south portal of the tunnel was laid on 6 May 2002. The first eruption occurred in 2010 and the last one was in 2017. , The tunnel was constructed using drill and blast NATM (New Austria Tunneling Method) techniques.

Atal tunnel starting
Credit- BRO Official website

The decision to build this historic tunnel under the Rohtang Pass was taken on June 3, 2000, during the tenure of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Its foundation stone was laid on 26 May 2002 and since then the Border Roads Organization was busy in completing it despite all the adverse circumstances.

After becoming the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi visited the construction site in 2014 and checked the construction work. On 24 December 2019, the Union Cabinet chaired by PM Modi approved the name of this tunnel as Atal Tunnel instead of Rohtang Tunnel for Vajpayee’s contribution in this. 40 percent of the tunnel work has been completed in the years of  2018 and 2019 and its construction has cost Rs 3200 crore.

Prime Minister Modi said that in 2002, Atal ji had laid the foundation stone of this tunnel. But the subsequent government forgot this work. Till 2013-14, only 1300 meters of work had been completed for the tunnel.

The speed with which the work of the Atal Tunnel was going on. If the work had been done at the same speed, then this tunnel would have been completed in the year 2040. PM Modi said that the work of Atal Tunnel got an unprecedented pace after 2014. The result was that where 300 meters of tunnel was being built every year earlier. Its speed increased to 1400 meters per year.

Most challenging area in Atal Tunnel

The most challenging was the tunneling work in Seri Nala fault zone covering an area of 587 meters and it was completed on 15 October 2017. Former ADG of BRO, KP Purushothaman said, ‘It was very difficult to do the induction and de-induction of resources during the construction of the tunnel. We faced many challenges but through teamwork we were able to complete the construction.

BRO Employees
Credit- BRO Official website

BRO’s engineers and employees had to put in a lot of effort in making it. Because it used to be very difficult to work here in winter. Here the temperature used to go up to minus 30 degrees.
During the making of this tunnel, 8 lakh cubic meters of stone and soil were extracted. In the summer, five meters per day were excavated here. But in winter it used to reduce to half a meter.

Importance of Atal Tunnel

Due to this tunnel, the distance between Manali to Leh will be reduced by 46 km, which will save 4 hours of travel time. On completion of the tunnel, all-weather connectivity in remote areas of Lahaul and Spiti Valley will be easy. It is worth noting that earlier, due to snowfall in this valley, traffic was disrupted for six months of the year, but due to the construction of this tunnel, now it will remain open throughout the year.

This tunnel, made by cutting a mountain in the inaccessible plains of the Himalayas, is located at an altitude of 3,060 meters above sea level. With the opening of this tunnel, many such areas of Himachal Pradesh, which were cut off from the rest of the country due to snowfall in winter, will be in contact throughout the year.

Tension continues between India and China on the 826-km-long Line of Actual Control (LAC) adjacent to eastern Ladakh. The soldiers of the Indian Army stand firm even when the temperature of the LAC is below 50 degrees. In fact, the Atal Tunnel is very important for the supply of arms and other items to the army in Leh in a short time. The Indian Army stationed in Ladakh will benefit the most from the construction of this tunnel. Where earlier only goods were supplied from Zojila pass to the army. At the same time, due to the construction of its tunnel, weapons can be supplied to the army even in winter.

Special Things about Atal Tunnel

A total of 7,515 vehicles crossed the tunnel in 24 hours on the 1st January, 2022. This is the highest number of vehicles crossing the Atal Tunnel in Rohtang in a day since the inauguration by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on October 3, 2020.

Located at an altitude of 10 thousand feet (about 3 thousand meters), this tunnel is 9 km long. It is the longest tunnel in the world built at such a height.

The Atal Tunnel, passing at an altitude of 10044 feet above sea level, has been officially certified by the World Book of Records as the longest traffic tunnel in the world.


Some highlights about Atal Tunnel:

  1. Atal tunnel is built under the Rohtang Pass on the Leh-Manali Highway in Himachal Pradesh.

  2. BRO Built this tunnel with the help of DRDO and Indian and Austrian companies Straubeg and Afcon.

  3. Opened/Inauguration 3rd – October-2020 by Prime Minister Atal Bihari.

  4. Operator – Border Roads Organization(BRO)

  5. Length – 9.02 km.

  6. Width- 10-5 meter.

  7. No. of lanes 2 (one lane in each direction)

  8. Route Leh-Manali Highway

  9. Location Rohtang Valley, Himachal Pradesh, India

  10. Speed limit 40-60 km/h


Delhi Magazine Team

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