Rohtang Pass located in Kullu district, Himachal Pradesh is probably the most popular mountain pass in India. While Atal Tunnel built right under Rohtang La is the newest hit amongst tourists and travelers. So what better time for a detailed comparison on Rohtang Pass Vs Atal Tunnel.

Based on my travels to both Rohtang and Atal Tunnel multiple times, I am curating this useful comparison blog. The comparison will be based on several aspects like Altitude, Accessibility, permits, public transport etc. So lets get started.

Rohtang Pass Vs Atal Tunnel

Rohtang Pass Vs Atal Tunnel – All You Need To Know

Located in Kullu district of Himachal, both are home to some of the most scenic landscapes in the world. Rohtang La was the only gateway to Lahaul before Atal Tunnel became operational.

But thanks to heavy snowfall during the winters, Rohtang remained closed for a good 6 months. Therefore, Atal Tunnel was built to provide all year round accessibility to Lahaul valley. And for strategic purposes to help out Indian Army.

Now that Atal Tunnel is functional, a lot of things have changed. So here I am comparing Rohtang Pass and Atal Tunnel to help out first time travelers.

Rohtang Pass Vs Atal Tunnel – Altitude

Rohtang Pass or Rohtang La is a mountain pass perched at around 13,000 ft which earlier used to act as a gateway to Lahaul valley before Atal Tunnel opened up.

Atal Tunnel on the other hand is the newest and the shortest route to Lahaul valley perched at 10,000 ft right below Rohtang Pass in Kullu district.

So Rohtang La is on a relatively higher altitude then Atal Tunnel. By the way, if you have never been to Lahaul, here is a detailed guide on the same.

Rohtang Pass Vs Atal Tunnel – Accessibility 

Rohtang La is only open for 5-6 months as it closes for around 6 months during winters thanks to the extremely heavy snowfall the pass receives during the winters.

As a result, Lahaul valley used to be cutoff from the outside world for a good six months before the Atal tunnel become operational. Rohtang La closes after heavy snow spells around November and only opens next year in May.

Atal Tunnel on the other hand is accessible even during winters barring a few days after a heavy snow spell as the BRO clears out the snow from South and North portal to make it accessible again.

Providing all year round connectivity to the residents of the Lahaul valley was one of the paramount reasons why Atal tunnel was built in the first place.

Rohtang Pass Vs Atal Tunnel – Which is Better for Lahaul/Ladakh/Spiti

If you want to visit Lahaul, Ladakh or Spiti from Manali Atal tunnel is the best and the shortest way.

Earlier before Atal Tunnel opened up, Rohtang La was the only route you could take for visiting Lahaul, Ladakh and Spiti. But thanks to Atal Tunnel, now the overall distance is reduced by around 40 km.

Nowadays due to the Atal Tunnel, one is not allowed to descend to Lahaul side from Rohtang La. Nor is one allowed to ascend to Rohtang La from Lahaul side.

So do keep this in mind. And use only Atal Tunnel for commute to Lahaul, Spiti and Ladakh. By the way, here is a detailed blog on best routes for Spiti. I am sure this will be quite helpful for first time travelers.

Rohtang Pass Vs Atal Tunnel – Permits

To visit Rohtang you require a permit. On any given day only 800 Petrol and 400 diesel vehicles are allowed. Here is where you can apply for the permit online. You need this permit only for going to Rohtang La from Manali.

You can go personally go to SDM’s office in Manali and get the offline permit for Rohtang La as well. Also, note that Rohtang La is closed for traffic on Tuesdays.

For Atal Tunnel, no such permit is required.

Rohtang Pass Vs Atal Tunnel – Public Transport

Before the Atal tunnel opened up, all the public Transport to Lahaul, Spiti, Ladakh had to go via Rohtang La. Special buses used to run for Rohtang for tourism purposes as well.

But after the tunnel opened up the public transport to Lahaul, Spiti and Ladakh now goes only via Atal tunnel due to the reduced distance as compared to Rohtang La route.

Here is a detailed guide how you can explore the remotest corners of Himachal using public transport like I do.

Rohtang Pass Vs Atal Tunnel – Distance from Manali

Rohtang pass is located at a distance of around 51 km from Manali. It takes about hours to reach the Pass while passing through the beautiful settlements of Gulaba and Marhi

Atal Tunnel on the other hand is at distance of around 30 km Manali and the road to Atal passes through the beautiful Solang valley.

To reach Sissu village in Lahaul valley it takes around 40 km by the Atal Tunnel and 85 km by Rohtang La from Manali. So you can clearly see that Atal Tunnel is the shorter route.

By the way, here is a detailed comparison post between Parvati valley and Tirthan valley, Kullu districts prominent tourist places.

Rohtang Pass Vs Atal Tunnel – Landscapes

Both Rohtang La and Atal Tunnel has incredible scenic landscapes with snow-capped peaks all around.  Rohtang La was already famous for its otherworldly view of high mountain peaks of CB range and Pir Panjal.

Atal tunnel also quickly become a tourist hotspot thanks to incredible setting. The view of mighty Hanuman Tibba one one side and seven sisters on the other side is really a sight behold.

So in my opinion its a tie. You get chance to witness otherworldly landscapes from both Rohtang La and Atal Tunnel.

To conclude, Rohtang pass is now exclusively a place to visit on Manali trip. While the Atal tunnel is  now the fastest way to reach Lahaul, Ladakh and Spiti apart from it being the latest addition to tourist places in Manali.

In case you have any queries relating to Atal Tunnel, please reach out to me in the comments.