Thrilling Odyssey to Rohtang Pass

 

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A drive from the plains of Delhi to a height of 13,000 ft. is like a dream come true. Running on four wheels across the undulating roads, surrounded by the snow peaked mountains, my trip to Rohtang Pass caused an adrenaline rush like never before. It took me two hours to cover about 52 km from Manali to Rohtang Pass and those two hours were splendid.

The excitement was obvious. I halted in Manali and without wasting any time, planned a trip to Rohtang Pass the next day in my four days of trip. After a good brunch on the way to Rohtang, I headed straight to my destination. The narrow unwinding lanes, river Beas accompanying me on the left, green conifers on the sides, tall mountains and clear blue skies were exhilarating. What else can I ask for?

Before I go ahead to sharing the finer details of my trip, let me tell you that besides the captivating beauty of Himachal, what’s even more fascinating is the management and people who are extremely organized, well-kept and welcoming. There are rules and regulations for every small act like cleanliness to more responsible ones like the vehicle permit for Rohtang Pass, which is absolutely hassle-free. Here’s how I put down my journey step-by-step, hoping to keep it as simple as the place and as sweet as the people here.

Permit to Rohtang Pass

If you plan to drive up the meandering roads of Rohtang Pass, you need to get the vehicle permit first. As a policy only 600 Petrol and 400 Diesel vehicles are allowed everyday. The permits are given on first come first serve basis on all days including Sundays at Tourist Information Center, at Mall Road, Manali one day in advance. The timings for attaining the permit are between 10 am to 8 pm.

Another convenient way, which I preferred and would like to mention here, is applying for the permit online through admis.hp.nic.in/ngtkullu. This website belongs to the Tourism Development Council and proffer other necessary information. While applying for the permit you must have handy with you the documents like ID Proof/PAN Card, Vehicle no., Name, Fuel Type, Driver Name, Mobile no., No. of Passengers.

Integrated Checkpost

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On way to Rohtang at Vashisht is the checkpost established as per the orders of National Green Tribunal (NGT), by Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change. This is primarily done to contribute to a cleaner, greener and pollution free city of Gods, popularly known as Devbhoomi. The officials in charge would ask for the following papers of your vehicle–Registration Certificate, Insurance and Pollution. Make sure you have them in place before you plan a visit to Himachal as the government is extremely vigilant.

Congestion Charges at Gulaba

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After some small towns like Vashisht, Palchan, Kothi come Gulaba Barrier. This is where Rs. 50 is charged per vehicle as Congestion Charges and is open between 6 am and 12 noon. You may find a long queue of vehicles right before the Gulaba Barrier and to save time it is advisable you walk up to the counter so that by the time your vehicle reaches the spot, you can do away with the formalities. Unfortunately, I wasted around 45 minutes sitting in my car. There are two different queues at the counter, one for Petrol and the other for Diesel vehicles. You need to make your choice and wait for your turn!

The Journey Begins

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The real journey begins once all the formalities are completed. The meandering narrow lanes with sudden twists and turns are sure to unnerve you. The natural beauty surrounds you throughout the journey. The various shades of mountains, tall trees will leave you spellbound. I could not take my eyes off the snow-capped mountains, which dazzled in the sun like a countless number of diamonds. Each time I commemorate the bountiful splendor, I wish to revisit the exquisite mountains. In a single day, I saw hundreds of moods of nature.

The coniferous forests stand tall on the mountains that added to the charm and soothed the eyes. The cumulus clouds were floating in the clear blue sky just like the soft cotton balls. My heart pounds ten times faster to think of the spectacular views and the chilling drive I had to Rohtang Pass. The narrow lanes became narrower with every hundred feet and being a two-way, you can imagine the thrill it must have been.

Midway break at Marhi—the last eating spot  

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Giving rest to my nerves, I decided to take a tea break at Marhi, a small town of roadside restaurants. It was the last eating point before Rohtang Pass and almost the midway between Manali and Rohtang on the Manali-Leh Highway. Quite a happening place for travelers, Marhi has shacks offering tea, snacks and Chinese food. You can spend some time eating here and relaxing yourself from the scary ride you just had and preparing yourself to cover the rest of your trip to Rohtang Pass.

The best thing about this place is that the shopkeepers are not allowed to sell chips or allow visitors to carry food items. No wonder the entire route is plastic free and clean. There are toilets and lavatories for public convenience at various places and this is not exclusive to this route, but almost everywhere in Manali. Impressive, isn’t it?

Reaching the greater heights

Rohtang_drive

Well, how to describe the feeling that’s unknown, out of the world and leads you to a more blissful abode. Extremely difficult, however I’ll try to give an overview. There was a time during the journey that the roads were slightly broader than a railway track and while giving a pass to the other vehicles, my car was on the edge and what I saw on my left was a frightening valley, thousands of feet deep. Being my first drive to such heights, I was awfully aghast and thrillingly glued to my seat on the front, next to the driver’s seat. No, I wasn’t the one who was driving, thankfully and I recommend the same to everyone who’s reading this–

The closer I reached the destination, the better the views were. Snow-capped mountains seemed to be at a walking distance. Some of these mountains were beautified with glistening white snow on the sides that had melted down from the peaks. It was marvelous to witness so many beautiful things at the same time. I was almost at the level of clouds and felt like hopping on one of them as they looked like a fluffy bed. I was in another world and by the time I could absorb the surreal beauty, there I was at Rohtang Pass, 13,000 ft. above the sea level. Unbelievable, but true!

Rohtang Pass—an achievement

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The beauty that my eyes saw was real and no dream.  I was overjoyed. I got down my car and the chilly breeze thumped me and froze me for a fraction of a second. I pulled down my cap, put my hands in the pockets of my jacket and walked briskly to reach on top of the mountain that looked exceptionally outstanding due to colorful prayer flags and cairn (piles of stones). With steady steps and slight heaviness due to altitude and cool breeze, I somehow managed to reach on top.

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It was a sense of accomplishment. Something inside me shook me and said that I have made it big. I felt on top of the world. I felt like a queen and my eyes could see none other than the divinity and the majestic exquisiteness. My feet, hands and face went numb due to the frosty breeze. Ears felt the pressure of the altitude; however, mind was at peace and heart overwhelmed. I sat beneath the fluttering prayer flags listening to the sound that was meditative. I was a changed person, at least during the time that I spent in the lap of nature. I wish to go back once again to feel the adrenaline rush and explore the divine Rohtang Pass.  Hope I had a rewind and a pause button to revisit the time and hold it. I would have then never asked for a play button.

Nitty-Gritty

Distance from New Delhi: 587 km (Approx.)

Distance from Manali: 50 km (Approx.)

Travel Time from Manali: 1 hr 20 min (Approx.)

Best time to visit: June to October for vehicles

Hotels and stay: Nearest stay would be at Vashisht. Hotels are available starting from INR 1000.

Suggestions:

  1. Carry woolens with you
  2. Carry water bottles
  3. Do not litter as a thumb rule
  4. Carry all the necessary vehicle documents and other necessary documents for permit and checkpost
  5. Do not drive if you have not practiced enough driving on hills or have fear of heights
  6. You will find vendors selling snow dresses almost all year round. However, you do not need one during the summers
  7. Do not waste time waiting behind the long queue of cars near Gulaba barrier. Instead walk up to the counter to get the receipt and let your driver pick you up
  8. Since it’s a scary drive and the lanes are narrow, it is advisable to return well on time before the sun sets
  9. Enjoy to the fullest 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anupriya Mishra is a writer, an independent blogger, a voracious reader and a freelance journalist. Truly in love with life, she wishes to celebrate each day by contributing to her blog. Her passions such as reading, writing, traveling, and photography have their unending space on the blog, which is a true reflection of her personality. She calls herself, “Wanderer by choice, Writer by passion.” To know more about her travel escapades, take a look at the “Travel & Living” section of the blog. Moreover, she conducts reviews of books, movies, hotels and restaurants. She also has a penchant for Fashion, Lifestyle, Events, Promotions, Books, Music, Features and Poems, all of which find space on the blog.


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