The Atal Tunnel, which connects Manali and Leh and is the world's longest highway tunnel spreading over 10,000 feet, took ten years to construct. The single-tube, double-lane tunnel, which is shaped like a horseshoe, features a number of firsts. Because of the geography, it is also the first tunnel in the country to include an escape tunnel within the main tunnel.


The nine-kilometer-long Atal Tunnel, which runs on the Manali-Leh axis and crosses the 13,050-foot-high Rohtang mountain, is the world's highest motorable highway tunnel. The tunnel, built at a cost of Rs 3,300 crore by the Indian Army’s premier road construction organization, Border Roads Organisation, took ten years to complete. The Rowa flyer technology, which allows engineers to work at inverted levels, is also being used for the first time in this tunnel . Strabag-Afcons , a joint venture between India’s Afcons Infrastructure and Austria’s Strabag, was granted the tunnel’s construction contract. The longest highway tunnel in the world, measuring 9.02 kilometers and formed like a horseshoe, connects Manali to the Lahaul-Spiti region all year. Previously, heavy snowfall would cut the valley off for about six months each year.


By using the latest Austrian tunneling method for construction, the tunnel used 12,252 metric tonnes of steel, 1,69,426 metric tonnes of cement, and 1,01,336 metric tonnes of concrete, and removed 5,05,264 metric tonnes of earth and rocks. The Atal Tunnel is located 25 kilometers from Manali at an altitude of 3,060-meters, while the north portal (NP) of the tunnel is located near Teling hamlet, Sissu, in Lahaul Valley at an altitude of 3,071 meters. Over 3,000 labourers from Bihar, Jharkhand, and Nepal, as well as engineers, toiled long hours to finish the tunnel. On October 15, 2017, a breakthrough was made from both sides. A telephone is available every 150 meters along the tunnel’s length, as well as a fire hydrant every 60 meters, emergency exits every 500 meters, a turning cavern every 2.2 kilometers, air quality monitors every 1 kilometer, a broadcasting system, and an automatic incident detection system with CCTV cameras every 250 meters. According to a news report “The commissioning of the Atal tunnel has created trust in tunnel building in any geology across the country,” said Border Roads Organization Col. Parikshit Mehra (BRO). Because of the tunnel's ventilation and high snowfall in the winter, Mehra said it was difficult to build. He explained that the Atal tunnel was built on a bill of quantities contract since it had a long construction period and required consistent financial flow. The Atal Tunnel was meant to carry 3,000 cars and 1,500 trucks each day at an average speed of 80 kilometers per hour. It features an updated electromechanical system with semi-transverse ventilation. In related events, Nitin Gadkari, India’s road transport and highways minister, said that the excavation began on the 14.15-kilometer Zojila tunnel in October. The year-round connection between Srinagar and Leh would be possible because of the 3,000-meter tunnel, which is one of Asia’s longest. The tunnel is considered crucial to the country’s security. Construction is being done by Megha Engineering & Infrastructure Ltd. The BRO plans to construct a total of 100 kilometers of tunnels over the next few years, with 60% of the tunnel length in the eastern Himalayan regions of Arunachal Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir.

Other road and rail tunnels in India:

  • Jammu and Kashmir’s Pir Panjal Railway Tunnel: With a length of 11215 meters, this is the country’s longest railway tunnel (11.215 km). Pir Pranjal, also known as the T-80, is a Himalayan pass that cuts through the center of the Himalayas at an elevation of 36795 feet. It was completed in 2013 and takes around nine minutes for a train to pass over.
  • Jammu and Kashmir’s Dr Syama Road: The world’s longest road tunnel, extending 9.34 kilometers. Chenani Nashri Tunnel, Patnitop Tunnel, and Syama Tunnel are some of the names given to the tunnel. The tunnel, which was completed in 2017, has two tubes that flow in opposite directions.
  • Kerala’s Trivandrum Port Railway Tunnel: The 9.02 km long Trivandrum Port Railway Tunnel in Kerala is next on the list. The tunnel, which is now under construction, will be the country’s second largest railway tunnel. It is scheduled to be finished in 2022.
  • Jammu and Kashmir’s Banihal Qazigund Road Tunnel: pThe Banihal Qazigund Road Tunnel, which is 8.5 kilometers long and runs parallel to each other, is located at an elevation of 1800 meters. Since 2011, the tunnel has been under construction, and it is projected to open in 2021.

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