Atal Rohtang Tunnel soon to see glass top vistadome buses, round the year tourism activities on South, North portals
Glass top vistadome buses carrying tourists through immersive realities, a short 3D audio-visual show on the making of Atal Rohtang Tunnel, a large café on south portal and a blue-water lake at Sissu in Lahaul valley are just some of the many plans being worked-out by Himachal Pradesh government to add value to the state’s tourism sector which suffered a huge blow during the coronavirus pandemic.
The landmark 9.2 km long Tunnel, named after former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee is all set to change tourism in the state now.
“Tunnel Tourism”, as Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur calls it, will add a charm to the Himalayan tourism. The government officials expect that the tourists headed for Atal Tunnel at Rohtang on their round trip to capture a panoramic view of Sissu lake and cold deserts of Spiti and Kaza, will add at least one more day to their normal stay at Manali.
Kumud Singh, Managing Director at HP Tourism Development Corporation (HPTDC) said, “elaborate plans are afoot to create wayside amenities, huge facilitation centre, café lounge giving a 360-degree view of the mountain peaks and glaciers on the south portal and equally attractive amenities on the North portal will greet the tourists."
“Most attractive and perhaps unique feature of the plan will be running glass roof electric buses. The motorists will be compelled to leave back their private vehicles and go on a ride to take full advantage of the buses with 3D immersive reality show on board, primarily history and making of the tunnel,” Singh told Outlook.
Landscaping of the areas near the Tunnel will be done and new installations made using traditional art will be used to enhance the aesthetics.
“We presented to Prime Minister Narendra Modi the first such art piece marking the revival of Kullu Kalam, a masterpiece of the finest creative work of Padamshri Vijay Sharma, an exponent of Pahari school of miniature painting. The idea is to give a push to the vocal for the local campaign. The Language Art and Culture department will anchor this move," said Singh.
The state tourism teams are working in close collaboration with the department of youth services and sports for promotion of snow slopes for adventure sports activities and skiing.
There is also a proposal to host international winter sports in the Spiti and Lahaul valleys as the tunnel is now expected to ease mobility during the snow months, unlike earlier times when closure of the Rohtang Pass used to cut off these areas for six to seven months.
“The conditions will change drastically. The Tunnel has created a scope for innovations in tourism. The glass vistadome buses will be a first-of-its-kind perhaps in India at an altitude above 10,000 feet,” says Chief Minister.
He recalls during inauguration of the tunnel, Prime Minister Modi suggested for documentation of the Tunnel’s best engineering feature and technologies used in its making, apart from challenges. He has also suggested the HRD ministry to work-out a plan to invite students of different educational institutions, both engineering and IITs to visit the tunnel, do their studies and research on the project.
“We have prepared a Rs 18 Cr project for the development of the ski slopes near Tiling Village in Lahaul to boost tourism in the Himalayan valley. It will cost Rs 18 Crore,” informs Rakesh Pathania, Minister for youth services Sports and Forests, who also interacted with the Prime Minister at North portal on October 3.