A trip to Manali is definitely incomplete without visiting the mighty and beautiful Rohtang Pass. Almost everyone traveling to Manali will definitely go towards Rohtang; irrespective of the month they are traveling in. This high altitude pass is probably the most famous and most visited in our country. A drive from Manali to Rohtang Pass will take you some of the most beautiful landscapes and vistas you have ever seen. Lush green hills, picturesque waterfalls, steep and adventurous drive, awe-inspiring views, snow even in the months of June and July; whatever you desire you will find it in plenty at Rohtang Pass.
If you are going to be in Manali anytime in near future, mentioned below are a few details on how you can include Rohtang Pass in your trip and plan a visit here.
For a brief introduction, literal meaning of the word Rohtang is “pile of corpses”; which I believe attributes to the fact that a lot of people must have died trying to cross it; before BRO finally managed a motorable road across the pass. The Pass is about 51 kilometers from Manali at a height of 3,978 m (13,050 ft); and connects the Kullu valley to that of Lahaul and Spiti in Himachal Pradesh. It is declared open to vehicular traffic sometime in April each year and closes in November after it starts to snow.
Surprisingly, the pass has never been considered that difficult to cross on foot as compared to some other passes in Himalayas. However it earned a reputation of being dangerous due to unpredictable weather; leading to frequent snowstorms and blizzards; causing a life threatening risk to people trying to cross over. This is the reason why it got named as Rohtang.
Rohtang Pass Distances
Mentioned below are distances of Rohtang Pass from some of the major towns nearby.
Rohtang pass Distance from Manali: Total distance between Manali and Rohtang Pass top via Vashisht, Palchhan and Marhi is 51 kilometers. If started early in the morning before traffic hits, this distance can easily be covered in about 2-3 hours depending upon your speed and breaks. If you however started around 10-11 AM or by afternoon, this distance can very well take 4-5 hours to complete.
Rohtang pass Distance from Delhi: Distance between Delhi and Rohtang Pass top is a total of 588 kilometers via Chandigarh, Mandi, Kullu and Manali. It will take you about 12-14 hours to reach Manali from Delhi.
Rohtang Pass Distance from Shimla: Best way to reach Rohtang Pass from Shimla would be via Sundernagar and Manali. To get to Sundernagar, you can either travel via Namoli and Barmana; or via Tattapani. No matter which route you chose, distance would approximately be around 300 kilometers. It will take you about 6-8 hours to reach Manali from Shimla.
Rohtang Pass Distance from Chandigarh: Total distance between Chandigarh and Rohtang Top via Kullu and Manali is approximately 360 kilometers. Journey time will be about 6-8 hours from Chandigarh to Manali.
Rohtang Pass to Keylong Distance: Towards Lahaul Valley, Keylong is at a distance of about 65 kilometers from Rohtang Pass top. Travel time will be about 2-3 hours depending upon your speed and breaks.
Rohtang Pass to Kaza Distance: In Spiti valley, Kaza is about 151 kilometers from Rohtang top. However this can take an entire day to travel due to extremely bad road conditions, specially between Gramphoo and Batal.
Rohtang Pass Route from Manali
Route from Manali to Rohtang Pass would be as below.
Manali – Chadiyari – Vashisht – Bahang – Palchhan – Kothi – Gulaba – Marhi – Rani Nallah – Rohtang Pass
Rohtang Pass Route from Delhi
Route from Delhi to Rohtang Pass will be as below.
Delhi – Sonipat – Panipat – Karnal – Kurukshetra – Ambala – Chandigarh – Rupnagar – Kiratpur Sahib – Bilaspur – Sundernagar – Mandi – Kullu – Manali – Rohtang Pass
Rohtang Pass from Shimla
If you are however travelling from Shimla, route can be either of the two mentioned below.
Shimla – Gyana – Namoli – Barmana – Sundernagar – Mandi – Kullu – Manali – Rohtang Pass
Shimla – Mashobra – Naldehra – Tattapani – Pangna – Kamru Nag – Sundernagar – Mandi – Kullu – Manali – Rohtang Pass
How to Plan a Trip to Rohtang Pass
Before traveling to Rohtang Pass, there are a few things that you must know. Most important is that Rohtang Pass remains closed for tourists on Tuesdays so you will have to plan your trip accordingly. Second is that in order to reach Rohtang, you must obtain a permit. This rule was implemented a few years ago in order to limit the number of vehicles traveling to Rohtang Pass and keep the pollution level under check. The permit needs to be acquired irrespective of whether you are traveling by your own car, motorcycle or renting a taxi from Manali.
The only way you can bypass this is to travel to Rohtang by HPTDC or HRTC Bus. Another important thing to know is that tourists are not allowed till Rohtang top; but to a certain area known as snow point. No matter if you are by your own vehicle or taxi, you will not be able to take it any beyond than Snow Point.
Best Time to Visit Rohtang Pass
The pass is declared open for vehicular traffic sometime in April and then closes towards late October. During these 7 months, the best time depends on what your preference is. If it is snow that you are after, then traveling early in the season would be best. Go in late April or early May and you will find plenty of snow at Rohtang. If snow is not your motive, then the best time to visit would either be in June, early July or September. It takes a few weeks for BRO to restore the roads after the pass opens so visiting in late April or May means that you will be traveling on some really terrible roads. There will also be a lot of slush at this time due to melting snow which you will have to handle.
Monsoon arrives towards Mid July and remains throughout August. This again is not an ideal time to go because rain just will make things way too difficult with a high chance of landslides. In June, early July and September however, the roads will be in better condition with a low chance of rain.
How to Reach Rohtang Pass
In order to get to Rohtang Pass, you will first have to reach Manali. The way this trip can be planned is that you reach Manali from your hometown on Day 1, go to Rohtang Pass on Day 2 and return back to Manali. If you are traveling by your own vehicle, you can easily make it a day trip after obtaining a permit from SDM office in Manali or online. If you are however traveling by public transport, then you should have no trouble finding a bus going towards Manali from your hometown; considering that it is one of the most visited hill stations of our country.
From Manali you can either book a taxi to go to Rohtang Pass or travel by Bus. Details on permits and public transport are provided further in the article.
Rohtang Pass vehicle permit
In order to visit Rohtang Pass, a permit has to be acquired from SDM office Manali or online. This permit limits the number of vehicles travelling to the pass on each day basis. This was done in order to keep the pollution under check and maintain the delicate ecological system of Rohtang. Without the permit, you will be turned back from Gulaba check post and will not be allowed to go any further. It is mandatory for both Car and motorcycles and a certain amount has to be paid in order to get it.
I have covered all the details related to the permits and how to obtain it in details in a different article. Read Rohtang Permits : Details, Charges & How to Apply and How to Get Rohtang Permit Online.
Rohtang Pass Fees
There are two different charges that are applicable when you visit Rohtang Pass. First will be the charges of Rohtang Permits which I have detailed in articles linked above. Second is the green tax that is payable at the time when you enter Manali. For two wheeler, this fee is Rs. 100. For LMVs, the amount is Rs. 200, for passenger vehicles it is Rs. 300 and Rs. 500 for good vehicles.
Rohtang Pass by your own vehicle
This is probably the best and most cost effective way of traveling to Rohtang Pass. Taxi charges in Manali are way too high during peak tourist season and going by Bus is not really much of convenience or fun. It can be either by your own car or a motorcycle but leaving early from Manali is highly advised. If you truly want to enjoy the journey, leave by first light of the day. As the sun rises, it presents some really magnificent vistas. If you are into photography, you would already know there is no other light like morning light for some good captures.
The biggest advantage of this however is avoiding the usual tourist traffic towards the pass. If you left early in the morning, you can easily make it to Rohtang within 2-3 hours and be back by noon.
Rohtang pass by bus
There are two different buses that you can board in order to reach Rohtang Pass. Both are government run, one by HRTC and other one by HPTDC. The HPTDC bus is more of a luxury tourist bus however the one provided by HRTC is an ordinary one; that runs from Manali to Keylong via Rohtang Pass. For further details like timings, schedule and fare of these buses, please read Manali to Rohtang Bus Service
Rohtang Pass road condition
All thanks to BRO, the road from Manali to Rohtang Pass is mostly a pleasant drive except for the last few kilometers around Rohtang Top and Rani Nallah where the road usually remains badly damaged. There are a few bad stretches at several other areas as well but the road is mostly good.
Activities at Rohtang Pass
Skiing and Paragliding are the two most fun activities at Rohtang Pass. You can also indulge in a ride on snow scooter. While most of the snow related activates happen at snow point (where there is plenty of snow), you will find the option of paragliding at several places during the drive. You can either book your ride on the spot after you reach there or you can also do that after speaking with any tourist agency in Manali.
Sightseeing at Rohtang
I sometimes get asked that what is there to see at Rohtang Pass. The answer to this question is only the natural beauty of the place. The drive on a narrow road which can get quite adventurous as well sometimes; will take you some really stammeringly beautiful vistas. Lush green hills, snow capped peaks around, several waterfalls, deep blue skies, plenty of snow to play around in; this is what Rohtang Pass has to offer you. Some noted places however that you can see en route are Nehru Kund, Rahla Falls and Rani Nallah.
AMS at Rohtang
As I mentioned previously as well in this article, Manali is at a height of around 2000 meters whereas Rohtang top is almost 4000. The increase in altitude happens within a matter of hours which means there is a high chance that you may start to feel symptoms of acute mountain sickness. There is really no cure for AMS and the only way around is to get down again to a lower altitude at Manali. If your conditions starts to worsen, then do not take the risk and come back. If however the symptoms are light, then you may as well continue all the way to snow point but do not spend a lot of time there.
Rohtang Pass Snow Point
This is not really a specific location but more of a stretch of snow where most of the tourist activity happens. In summer, snow point shifts closer to Rohtang top (near Marhi) while in Winter; when Rohtang gets closed; this spot shifts closer to Manali.
Rohtang Pass Hotels
There are no hotels or camping sites at Rohtang Pass. It is neither allowed or advised to spend a night at Rohtang because of extreme cold weather and strong winds. Nearest hotels are either at Manali or you may find a few guest houses en route; near Gulaba and Kothi.
Mobile Connectivity at and around Rohtang Pass
No matter which network you are on, your phone will remain within network and will work fine all the way till Rohtang. If you however descend on the other side towards Lahaul or Spiti, your phone will be off network unless you are on a postpaid MTNL / BSNL connection which may work till Keylong.
Minimum Time Needed for Rohtang Pass Trip
3 days is the minimum time you need to plan a trip to Rohtang Pass. However this time frame is keeping in mind that you will take one day to reach Manali and another to reach back home. If you are however staying at a place farther, than it will entirely depend on how much time it took for you to reach Manali. A trip to Rohtang Pass however can easily be done from Manali in a single day.
Preferred Vehicle for Rohtang Pass Trip
I have seen people visiting Rohtang in Maruti 800 as well so you do not really need a higher CC engine or 4×4 SUV. However a vehicle with higher ground clearance is better. If traveling in a hatchback or Sedan, you should know how to manage your car at steep ascents, sharp turns and most importantly, how to take it across slush without the belly of your car hitting the ground.
Rohtang Pass Height
Rohtang Pass is at an altitude of 3,978 meters (13,050 ft) above sea level. Manali is at an altitude of 2,050 meters so a trip to Rohtang top means what within 4-5 hours and 50 kilometers of journey, you will reach almost double the altitude that you were at in Manali.
Rohtang Pass Temperature
Cold winds at Rohtang Top always keep the temperature on the lower side. While you can comfortably walk around in Manali in cottons during summer, you really need a heavy windproof jacket while visiting Rohtang. Presence of snow at Rohtang top remains throughout the year, even in the months of June and July; so the temperature here never really goes above single digits in Celsius.
Rohtang Pass By Bike
A bike trip is in fact better to visit Rohtang rather than going in a car; because on a bike, you can get through traffic jams if encountered. However, ensure that you are properly covered with a thick windproof jacket and a good pair of gloves. You should also have decent enough riding experience; if you have none that its better to be a pillion rider. Manali has several motorcycles rental shops so in case you are visiting there by bus or other means of transport; but would rather go to Rohtang on a bike; then you can rent one from Manali.
Rohtang Pass Bus Booking
There is no online booking system available for this Bus. However you must book your ticket a day in advance at Himachal Tourism office on Mall Road. It is located near Hotel HPTDC Kunzum.
Rohtang Pass Dress
I do not really think you need any special kind of clothing for Rohtang Pass. Just carry a thick windproof jacket and that should do it. Manali is pleasant during day and you can easily walk around in cottons during summers; it is just the cold winds near Rohtang top that you need to protect yourself from. I have seen several people also rent those special dresses with huge snow boots that are available at both Manali and on the road towards Rohtang. Quite honestly, I do not believe you do not need those unless you want to go walking around in snow.
Rohtang Pass Opening Date
The opening and closing date of the pass are not set. It completely depends on the weather, snow at the pass; and how fast BRO can clear it. However, usually the Pass is declared open by sometime around late April or Mid May. Closing time can be sometime in October or early November at most.
Snow at Rohtang Pass
If you are eager to see snow then you will find plenty of it at Rohtang. As the pass opens, in late April or May, there may even be huge walls of snow on both side of the roads. This is the best time to go to Rohtang Pass if you want to catch some snow. After June, it starts to reduce and limit itself only towards the top of the Pass. As the time progresses, snow gets even lesser and by August, there may not even be any snow at all except for some left at Rohtang Top. August will be the worst time to go to Rohtang in terms of snow viewing. After September, as weather starts to get cold again, the amount of snow again increases.
Is it better to rent a taxi for Rohtang or go by Bus?
It depends really. If budget is not a problem, then of course; renting a taxi to visit the Pass will be the best choice. It will be more fun and comfortable. As per the taxi union rates, no taxi driver can charge you more than around Rs. 3k – 5k per day; depending on which car you chose for taxi. Reality however is different. This year, their daily rates went up to Rs. 15000 for a SUV. A friend of mine was quoted Rs. 10,000 for an Alto. I know, this is how crazy it can get. So unless you are OK spending this amount, your best bet would be to catch the morning HPTDC bus from Manali to Rohtang.
Another option is to board the daily Manali to Keylong bus from Manali which is even cheaper. Your fare would hardly be Rs. 100 per person. The only problem with this bus however is that it will drop you at Rohtang Top and continue to Keylong. You will have to either wait for a bus, or a shared taxi or hitch-hike from Rohtang to Manali. Finding a vehicle to hitchhike isn’t that tough in tourist season though.
Do you need to Book a Hotel in Manali?
It again depends. If you are traveling with family, want to avoid the hassle of hotel hunting, are looking for a good classy hotel then yes, you can book it. However, hotels in Manali are in plenty, way too many and finding one isn’t a big deal at all. If you book, you will just end up paying more. Better would be to reach there, find a hotel per your taste and budget, strike a deal and check in. I once reached Manali at 3 in the night and still I found a hotel for Rs. 400 per day, imagine that.
I think this pretty much covers every aspect of planning a trip to Rohtang Pass. If you however have any further questions, please feel free to ask in comments section below or at our Community Forum and I will be glad to answer. If you have recently been to Rohtang and have information that is missing from article but can be of help to other, I would request you to please mention it in the comments below