Lying between 10,040 to 10,075 feet above the sea level, the Atal Tunnel at Rohtang — which bypasses the Rohtang Pass on the Manali-Leh route — is the longest tunnel above an altitude of 10,000 feet, according to the Border Roads Organisation (BRO).
The tunnel does not lie directly underneath the Rohtang Pass (around 13,000 feet high), but three hills west of the pass. On the Manali side, it starts from Dhundhi in Solang valley, which lies around 11 km west of the Manali-Leh highway. It cuts through the lofty Pir Panjal range to emerge beside the Chandra river near Sissu in Lahaul on the northern side, where a bridge connects it to the Manali-Leh highway.
The tunnel cuts short the distance between Manali and Leh by around 46 km, and saves several hours of travel time. Double-laned and horse-shoe shaped, the tunnel was originally designed to be 8.8-km-long but was measured at 9.02-km-long upon completion.
Built at a cost of around Rs 3,200 crore, the tunnel was made by blasting rather than drilling.
With a smaller escape tunnel built underneath, it has a telephone facility after every 150 metres, fire hydrant after every 60 metres, emergency exit after every 500 metres, turning cavern after every 2.2 km, air quality monitoring after every kilometre, a broadcasting system and an automatic incident detection system with CCTV cameras after every 250 metres.
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