While local residents of Himachal welcomed the seasons’s first snowfall, it turned out to be a disappointment for hundreds of tourists who were stranded on the Manali-Rohtang pass road on December 13. The roads witnessed a disrupted vehicular traffic following the heavy snowfall.
Around 150 vehicles were stranded. However, all tourists caught at Rohtang Pass were rescued and brought to Manali.
The unexpected situation had put the local administration on high alert who had already started off with the rescue operation of the stranded tourists to bring them back to Manali at the earliest.
“We have reports about 150 vehicles that are still stranded on the road because of heavy snow, skidding of heavy vehicles, traffic jam and breakdowns .This has caused adverse impact on the mobility. There is no vehicle at Rohtang Pass. At Marhi,we have been told about six stranded vehicles,” says Vinay Singh, additional District Magistrate, Kullu had earlier said.
Singh said that while the snow at Gulaba is at least a feet deep, the situations at Rohtang Pass and Marhi are worse.
The medical teams were deployed to the affected areas already. Medical help was also being provided at the Gulaba rescue post.
The administration had also sought help from the Border Roads Organisations and engineering firms engaged in the construction of Rohtang tunnel in order to bring the tourists to safer places.
Singh claims that the tourists were already provided with a warning against visiting Rohtang Pass and Marhi on account of the possibility of heavy snowfall, but they seem to have taken the trip nevertheless to enjoy the season’s first snowfall. Few had also started from Koksar (Lahaul-Spiti side) to cross Rohtang Pass in the day, he says.
The roads were covered with slush and snow coupled with rains that made driving dangerous.
According to one Piyush Mahajan, who was at Manali with a group of friends, the number of stranded tourists can be as high as 400.
“It was perhaps God’s grace that we started late and did not take the risk. Gulaba was the last point we touched after which we were warned about the heavy snowfall,” says Piyush.