Come June 15, the standard fourteen-hour journey from Delhi to Manali will shorten by at least four hours, courtesy, the Kiratpur-Manali four-laning which is in its final stages.
Similarly, the time taken from Chandigarh to Manali will also reduce by 40 km and it will take roughly about five-six hours to reach Manali instead of the standard nine-10 hours. Apart from providing ease in one’s journey, the new road will also be a big booster for tourism.
The Regional Officer, the National Highways Authority of India, Abdul Basit said that “this Four-Lane National Highway will be completely ready by June 15-20.”
At present, the distance between Kiratpur and Ner Chowk, which is the most crucial connection and circuitous and slow due to the daunting terrain, is 115 km. And within this, the Swarghat-Bilaspur stretch which is 38 km takes more than one hour. After the new road starts functioning, this distance will reduce from 115 km to 77 km. Crucial to this project are five tunnels, 22 big and 14 small bridges that made the construction of this new road stretch a possibility.
Apart from it, the other stretch of road which was in its final stages and is now complete is the 35-km road stretch from the Pandoh bypass to Takoli. Experts say this was the most difficult part of the four-laning project on the Kiratpur-Manali national highway (NH-3). The Takoli-Kullu road which is ahead of it while on one’s way to Manali is already functional. Similarly, the Pandoh bypass-Takoli project which includes building 10 tunnels, one elevated viaduct, three big and 10 small bridges, and double-laning of about 13.5-km highway stretch with slope protection, culverts, retaining walls, and other such features has also been completed. The construction work from Mandi to Aut which entailed cutting the hills all along the Beas river is also over. Also, the flyover near Aut is complete, as is the 30-km four-lane road from Aut to Kullu.
The highway will have arrangements for ambulances, recovery vehicles, etc.
Also, emergency call boxes along with high-tech CCTV cameras, automatic traffic counter-cum-classifiers, Vehicle Actuated Speed Displays and Overhead Driver Feedback Systems, variable message signs, video incident detection system, and Met device are also being installed, besides a command and control centre at the toll plaza and connectivity through optic fibre along NH. Director General of Police, Sanjay Kundu said that a study is being carried out to make all arrangements from the point of view of security at T and Y junction. He said that crash barriers on the valley side, footpaths, and over bridges have been constructed for the safety of commuters and passers-by.
Will be a big booster for tourism
Sanjay Thakur, a local from Kullu and a homestay owner says, “It will draw people in hordes to Kullu and Manali.” President of Kullu Manali Prayatan Vikas Mandal, Anup Thakur says, “Manali hoteliers are choc-c-bloc May 20 onwards. Children have summer holidays in schools and families want to escape to the hills. We have 3,000 registered and unregistered hotels and homestays in Manali, and 80 per cent of the future hotel bookings have been committed to us.”
Ram Singh Thakur, who owns a homestay in Lahaul adds, “I have a four-room homestay. And all four rooms for the first 15 days of June are booked.”
He adds the shortened road between Delhi- Manali will really benefit tourism.
From Delhi to Manali
One can reach Manali from Delhi by air or by road. While the air journey is a costly affair and one has to shell out close to Rs 25,000 rupees per ticket and takes just three hours, one-hour air journey, and the remaining two hours the journey via road, miscellaneous halt time included. By road, while earlier it used to take anything between 13 to 14 hours – four-hour to Chandigarh and another nine to 10 hours, a halt of one hour included, from Chandigarh to Manali, now after the Kiratpur-Ner Chowk four-lane completion, the total time taken will not be more than 9-10 hours.
Now, after having crossed Ropar, one will not have to take the earlier route of Swarghat, Bilaspur, Barmana, and Sundernagar. All these stations will be bypassed after this four-lane completion. One can straightaway drive from Kiratput and reach Ner Chowk which is just 10 km short of Mandi, another important town that falls on the wayside as one travels to Manali.