Atal Tunnel, the gateway to the Himalayan wonderland of Lahaul is currently one of the top travel destinations in Himachal. With an exponential surge in tourist footfall, here are some do’s and dont’s of visiting Atal Tunnel, so that you have a memorable trip.
Following the do’s and dont’s will ensure that you have a safe and hassle free trip to Atal Tunnel and Lahaul valley, while making memories that you’ll cherish for the rest of your life and experience Lahaul to the fullest.
Do’s And Dont’s Of Visiting Atal Tunnel – All You Need To Know
Atal Tunnel being the newest sensation amongst people has resulted in huge tourist footfalls in Lahaul, But on the other hand these surge in tourism has led to a lot of anti-social elements trying to disrupt the sanctity of Lahaul.
So while on a trip to Atal Tunnel, one should behave responsibly and not take advantage of the incredibly humble and innocent Lahauli folks. Otherwise, they will be skeptical about hosting travelers.
So here are some Do’s and Dont’s of visiting Atal Tunnel to have a hassle free trip.
Do’s Of Visiting Atal Tunnel
So here are the list of things that you should do and follow while making a trip to Atal Tunnel, the gateway to Lahaul valley.
By the way if you have never visited Lahaul before, here is a detailed backpacking guide to Lahaul valley. I am sure this will be of a great help.
Leave early when visiting Atal Tunnel
If you are not visiting Atal Tunnel and Lahaul valley using public transport, you should start very early from Manali. You should probably leave by 7.00 AM.
The reason being, a lot of travelers take it easy and leave for the Atal Tunnel and Lahaul from Manali only at around 9 or 10 AM. This leads to a traffic Jam eventually.
Also the Tunnel is closed for traffic everyday from 11.00 AM to 12.00 PM for maintenance. So you’ll be stuck if you leave late.
Use Public Transport To Your Advantage
Well most of the tourists who visit Manali usually hire a bike or private cab to visit to Atal Tunnle. Nothing wrong with the that. But if you are on a strict budget or traveling solo or in a small group, hiring a vehicle could get expensive for your.
So instead you can visit Atal Tunnel and Lahaul valley by public transport, that is HRTC buses. Using public transport to visit Atal tunnel is quite cost effective and also reduces one’s carbon footprint.
There are buses going to Lahaul valley via Atal Tunnel almost every hour from Manali. By the way, here is a detailed blog on how to explore Himachal only using public transport like I do.
Check Weather Forecast When Traveling to Atal Tunnel During Winters
During winters the south portal of Atal Tunnel as well the North portal receive heavy snowfall. So before traveling to Atal Tunnel, please check make sure that there is no forecast of inclement weather.
Inclement weather can lead to Atal Tunnel being cutoff from Manali due to heavy snow. And there have been instances where people had to be rescued by the authorities during winters.
So make sure you check the weather forecast and not put your lives at risk.
Do Check In Manali If the Tunnel Is Open For Travelers In Winters
During the winters, especially after heavy snow spells, Atal Tunnel is closed for long periods for tourists. The reason being the road is deemed too dangerous for driving due to a lot of snow, black ice and avalanche risk.
So you should check on this if you are planning to visit Atal Tunnel and Lahaul valley during the winters.
Also note this condition will be applied only to tourists and not the locals of Lahaul. For them tunnel is accessible as soon as the snow is cleared as they are experienced enough to drive in harsh conditions.
Here is a detailed blog on Rohtang Pass Vs Atal Tunnel. I am sure this will be quite useful for travelers.
Respect the Culture of Lahaul valley
As you might know, Atal Tunnel is built to provide all-weather connectivity to the tribal valley of Lahaul. The valley and its people as a whole are quite peaceful and have an eccentric yet beautiful culture of their own.
Before the Tunnel opened up people hardly ventured to Lahaul valley. But a sudden influx of tourists in Lahaul has led to some anti-social elements masked as travelers troubling the locals folks of Lahaul.
So make sure you respect their culture and do not get into any kind of futile arguments with the locals. If you behave well, the locals of the valley are extremely hospitable and humble.
Respect the Women of Lahaul valley
Its quite said that I have to write such an obvious thing, but thanks to some disgusting incidents after the Tunnel opened I have to.
Lahauli women are the backbone of the valley and its culture. And are some of the hardest working people I have seen in my life. But thanks to some anti-social elements in our society Lahauli women were eve-teased when the tunnel just opened for traffic in 2020.
As a responsible human being. please respect the women of Lahaul and don’t do things which can or will make them uncomfortable.
Dont’s Of Visiting Atal Tunnel
Here are some things that you should never do, when visiting Atal Tunnel and Lahaul. Failing to do so will result in unpleasant situations and can even attract strict action from the authorities.
So do make sure to read them carefully for a hassle free trip to Lahaul. By the way, here is a detailed blog on how safe valley is for travelers.
Don’t stop Your Vehicle in the Atal tunnel
So as per the rules, you are not supposed to stop your car or bike purposely. You have to keep driving inside the tunnel and not stop.
People have stopped inside the Tunnel to casually dance and have ended up getting arrested. So this should be a good enough warning for the people to not stop their vehicles inside.
By the way, here is a detailed blog on how to plan a trip to the incredible scenic Tso Kamtsi or Suraj Tal of Lahaul valley
Don’t Break the Speed limit in the Atal tunnel
There are certain speed limits that you have to follow inside tunnel. Different parts of the tunnel have different speed limits to follow. So do make sure you follow the speeds.
Adhering to rules is one of the paramount things you should be following when visiting Atal Tunnel. Not following them may result in strict action by the authorities.
By the way, here is a detailed comparison blog on Suraj Tal and Chandra Tal two extremely scenic high altitude glacial lakes of Lahaul.
Don’t litter On Your Trip To Atal Tunnel
Of course, this quite an obvious thing. But a lot of people do not seem to understand. They tend throw away plastic bottles, wrappers and other garbage anywhere as per their will.
I would say if possible just avoid plastic eatables and water bottles and go for sustainable alternatives or if you cannot avoid just please don’t litter. Carry all the garbage back with you.
When the tunnel opened in 2020, there were several instances where people had just littered Lahaul valley with plastic items thanks to a sudden surge of people wanting to witness the engineering marvel.
Here is a detailed blog on how to travel responsibly in Himachal. This is the least we can do to save our environment and the planet.
Don’t Get Intoxicated On Your Trip To Atal Tunnel
Well again this a no brainer. But people get too intoxicated on their trip, lose their senses and behave unruly and create ruckus.
As soon the as the Atal tunnel opened, people where caught drinking and partying on the road to the tunnel. Some went a step further, stopped their cars inside tunnel and started dancing and got arrested. Most probably they were in an inebriated state.
So its my humble request to remain sober during your trip to Atal Tunnel. Failing to do so can or will surely lead to unpleasant circumstances.
Don’t Venture Too close To the Rivers
Venturing too close to the rivers especially during monsoons can be a perilous affair and can even lead to death. Himalayan rivers and rivulets which are fed by the glaciers always pose risk of getting flooded in case of cloudburst like situation.
So do not venture too close to the rivers of Lahaul like Chandra, Bhaga, Chandrabhaga especially during summers and monsoon when they flow furiously across the valley.
The recent cloudburst event which lead to flooding of all the rivulets in Pattan valley should serve as a stark warning to travelers of the risks that monsoon poses. I was personally stuck here for a week with roads broken due to the cloudburst.
Don’t Just Come back from Sissu On Your Trip To Atal Tunnel
After having spent a month in Lahaul in the summers, One thing I noticed was people hardly ventured to the other villages of Lahaul. I agree that Sissu is quite picturesque but so is the rest of Lahaul valley
Most of them just go to Sissu, and depending on the season, the either play in the snow fields or just spend some time near Sissu and return back to Manali.
To make the trip to Atal tunnel and Lahaul valley memorable one should venture beyond Sissu, maybe go to some celestial monasteries or visit some rustic villages and then return to Manali.
To conclude, I hope you are now well aware with “what are some rules to follow while visiting Atal Tunnel”. In case you have any queries regarding the Do’s and Dont’s of visiting Atal Tunnel, do reach me out in the comments.