Rohtang Pass is the high altitude pass on the eastern side of Pir Panjal Ranges in the Himalayas. The word Rohtang which means ‘the land of dead bodies’ was bestowed upon it simply because the number of people who died while crossing the pass. The Rohtang pass is at an elevation of 3100 meters (13000 feet) and is the natural pass connecting Lahaul and Spiti from the rest of Himachal Pradesh. The Rohtang pass is also the second gateway to the beautiful cold desert of Leh and Ladakh, after the Drass-Kargil route.
Overview and history of Rohtang Pass;
The Rohtang Pass is a natural dividing border between the lower Kullu valley predominately of Hindu population and the northern Spiti valley where majority are Buddhist. The pass is popular not only for its scenic beauty but also for the strategic importance it holds. The Pass is situated between the basins of two rivers, The Beas and Chenab. While the Beas originates from the southern side of the pass from a small glacier lake known as Beas Kund, the northern side is the source of Chandra river, which flows westwards forming the headstream of river Chenab. The glacier peaks of several mountains is are visible from the high altitude natural pass.
The pass is a historical pass because it was a busy trade route for the Pir Panjal people from the ancient times till the contemporary period. The pass is also an important Military route to Ladakh and further Siachen and Kargil and played a crucial role during the 1999 Kargil war. The pass is the leading tourist attraction during the summers for the tourist who visit Manali, which is just about 50kms towards the south of it. The Rohtang pass is only opened for vehicular traffic during four to five months of the summer weather. The trekking routes which pass via Rohtang are dangerous and tricky but are a hit amongst the tourist and are often used throughout the year.
Significance of Rohtang pass for Manali;
The tourism sector of Manali is moreover dependent on the Rohtang pass. During the peak season of tourism, that is from April to July, the road towards the pass or we can say the snow point is jam packed and one can see millions of tourists on any given day. The other passes and important places on this route are; Baralachala, Kun Zum, Sarchu, Penzu, Keylong, etc. The scenic beauty of the drive from Manali to Rohtang is breathtaking and once a lifetime experience. The breathtaking natural views are unforgettable. There are numerous small snow points and waterfalls in summers while going towards Rohtang pass.
Environmental Hazards and concerns;
The growing number of tourist at a an uncontrollable rate is causing a great environmental distress on Manali. The growing number construction and increasing inflow of people is also impacting the natural treasures of Manali. The most devastating impact is on Rohtang pass. The peak season of summers witnesses large traffic jams because of growing number of tourists in Manali. Millions of cars plied on the route, resulting in great environment distress for years.
In 2016, the N.G.T(National Green Tribunal), imposed a ban limiting the number of vehicles, towards Rohtang pass. The outstation vehicles were banned from plying on the route and all the Himachal taxis were only allowed to go there. The move saw a huge improvement in the scenario.
Rohtang pass is the most important tourist destination of Manali, and an important part of Himachal Pradesh, and also strategically important part of India. The Pass also adds to the beauty of the town and and remains one of the most beautiful place in India.