Well, few weeks back I posted a news about Manali – Leh Highway being open till the end of November linked here. As at that time I had all sought of doubts on how BRO will be able to manage the extreme weather conditions, the latest reports are just complimenting to the risks of traveling on Manali – Leh Highway late in the season and few of them I already mentioned in my earlier article on 5 Reasons to Avoid Manali – Leh Highway in Late September or October. Hence, it was quite a suprise when I first read the news about Manali – Leh being open for another month :shock:.
Late October and November for me is just too too late and with latest reports it is clear that many sections of Manali – Leh Highway have already frozen. There is black ice on roads especially when traveling early mornings and evenings poses a great risk of driving over it as chances of skidding are very much likely and is too dangerous for newbie to attempt such sections of roads. It is quoted that three stretches between Darcha and Sarchu in Lahaul-Spiti, including a stream at Bharatpur have frozen completely as temperatures are running below freezing points in-around them.
The route can experience heavy snowfall at anytime now thereby may get closed for several months. An advisory for tourists not to ply on Manali – Leh has already been issued by General Reserve Engineering Force (GREF) considering similar risks. GREF, a wing of the Border Roads Organization, maintains the highway that passes through rugged Himalayan ranges, including the 475-km Manali-Leh highway that passes through Rohtang Pass (13,050 ft), Baralacha Pass (16,020 ft), Lachlungla Pass (16,620 ft) and Tanglangla Pass (17,480 ft). Read more here and below.
MANALI, October 17, 2011: Following risks associated with driving on many frozen stretches of Manali-Leh highway, the movement of tourists along this route has almost stopped. It has hit the tourism industry in Manali.
Less than a dozen cabs from Manali are plying Manali-Ladakh highway these days as driving on frozen road is dangerous. Most of the tourists are preferring direct flights from Delhi to Leh, which has left hundreds of taxi operators unemployed. Tourists while leaving for Ladakh, use Manali as their halt for a day and hire cab for their onward journey. October and November being off season here, taxi operators are waiting for passengers. Now, most of the drivers have parked their cabs sans passengers.
With more than 1,700 cabs and 80 mini buses, the Him-Anchal taxi operators union here is the largest in the state. The vice-president of the union Beas Dev said, driving on Manali-Leh highway is dangerous both for driver and tourists. He adds, “Only some experienced drivers are daring to drive on frost. Most of the tourists are opting for airways. Now, we are hoping for good business during Christmas weekend in December.”
The temperature being below freezing point, three stretches between Darcha and Sarchu in Lahaul-Spiti, including a stream at Bharatpur have frozen completely. The route may experience snowfall any time. And it would be blocked for traffic. To avoid dangers, travel agents are advising tourists to take alternate means of transport.
Padam Singh, owner of two mini buses and a SUV here is upset as he has no work to do. “I had purchased cabs to earn from tourism in Ladakh. The rough Manali-Leh highway is suitable only for SUVs and buses which are not in demand now. Tourism in Manali is already dull. Now we will have to face the recession period till May 2012,” he said.
Similar is the condition of most of the taxi operators in Kullu and Manali. The Manali-Gramphu-Spiti highway too is reported frozen at many stretches near Kunzum pass.
External Link: Frozen Manali-Leh highway freezes tourism