“Is our life worth one photo?” were the words of the couple who fell to their deaths while taking a selfie in California’s Yosemite Park
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It features heavily on adventure-packed bucket lists. It inspires puns that border on impropriety, and are stamped on tourist tee shirts. And it has the jewel of the lakes: the Pangong-Tso to its credit, not to mention many Buddhist monasteries to boot. We’re talking of Leh-Ladakh.
Planning a trip to Leh from Delhi involves either a rugged 24-hour journey by road or close to an hour by flight, all adept with masks and pills to combat motion sickness, of course. But travelling by train? That wasn't a feasible option--at least, until now.
Construction of a new railway project, the Bilaspur-Manali-Leh line is expected to cut travel time down to just 10 hours from the capital to Leh. The 465-km-long line will be the highest railway one in the world at a height of 5360m above mean sea level. Presently, the highest railway line is the Qinghai–Tibet Railway in China, which is elevated 2000m above sea level.
According to reports, the train will have 30 stations en route to Leh, including but not limited to Sundernagar, Mandi, Manali, Keylong, Darcha, Karu, and other towns in Himachal Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir. It will also pass 74 tunnels along the way, with Keylong being the first station in India to be built underground.
The train will also provide stunning views of the Shivalik and Himalayan ranges, while passing through Rohtang La and Lachung La passes, among others.
Concerned about the air pressure and the altitude? The Indian Railway is studying the make of the coaches on the Qinghai-Tibet line before constructing the ones for Bilaspur-Leh train. The proposed project, however, will be designed for high altitude. There would also be oxygen masks available for passengers as well as doctors on call to cope with possible emergencies.
The project, which has completed its first phase, will take 30 more months for completion—and we simply can’t wait.
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