Due to the recent traffic restrictions imposed by NGT for Rohtang, there is a currently a lot of confusion among people planning to visit Ladakh, Lahaul & Spiti or even just Rohtang Pass. New laws like restrictions of Diesel engine vehicles, restricting total number of vehicles plying on the route resulted in a lot of dissatisfaction among the taxi unions and even the tourist crowd. More than dissatisfaction, there is confusion due to lack of knowledge and clarification on how people will be affected with these laws. I have received tons of emails from people asking for advice on how to visit or cross Rohtang or what the vehicle restrictions for Rohtang Pass are. Based on the queries I received, here is a little summary of what the restrictions are and how they apply.
- Let me first of all clarify that all of the restrictions that I am going to summarize below do not apply to any vehicle travelling beyond Rohtang. So if you are planning to visit Ladakh, Lahaul or Spiti, you will not be impacted by any of these rules. These rules are only for vehicles going to Rohtang Pass and returning back. So in short, people who are visiting Manali and also want to visit Rohtang Pass before heading home.
- All of the below mentioned rules only apply to vehicles travelling from Manali to Rohtang. If you are coming to Manali from the other side of Rohtang, you will not be affected by these laws in any way.
- The only rule that applies to vehicles travelling beyond Rohtang is that they should not be older than 10 years.
- Even if you are taking a Taxi to visit Ladakh, Lahaul or Spiti valley, following restrictions will not apply.
- As of now, you are however required to obtain an affidavit from SDM office Manali as a proof of your travel beyond Rohtang. Proof can be in form of booking confirmations in Ladakh or Spiti and the affidavit may cost you Rs. 150. This affidavit will be used to issue the permits to travel to Rohtang one day in advance. You can obtain your permit at Tourist information center at Mall road Manali which is open from 10 AM to 8 PM, all seven days a week.
- Now let us take a look at the rules. Even though taxi union took steps like strikes and appealing in Supreme Court, NGT’s decision of allowing only 1000 vehicles to Rohtang still stands. This law was passed in order to preserve the ecology of Rohtang and in my opinion, is somehow justified as well. People who have been to Rohtang before will remember the snow turning black due to fuel emissions, littering, waste, increasing pollution levels which is what NGT is trying to prevent. Final verdict for now is that only 1000 vehicles per day will be allowed to visit Rohtang Pass.
- Out of the 1000 vehicles, 725 vehicles will be Himachal registered and remaining 275 from other states.
- This number has been further broken into 60% petrol and 40% diesel vehicles, applying on both Himachal and non-Himachal vehicles.
- Public transport buses are also a part of the 1000 vehicles allowed.
- Effective July 3rd 2015, Congestion charges of Rs. 1000 for petrol operation vehicles and Rs. 2500 for Diesel will also apply. If the vehicle is carrying a total of 6 or more people, then the congestion charges would be Rs. 5000.
- All vehicles are required to register themselves and obtain permits, which for personal vehicles are given at Manali Tourism Office and at Taxi Union office for taxi or commercial vehicles.
- Motorcycles as of now are exempted from all of the above restrictions. This however is highly prone to change.
- Up until now, the regular congestion charge of Rs. 50 can be paid and passes can be obtained at Gulaba check post. After July 3rd, the permits will only be given at Tourism office or Taxi Union office. This also applies to vehicles travelling to beyond Rohtang.
- If you attempt to escape all these rules by going to Rohtang really early, in the dark, you may get fined at Gulaba check post. Without the permits, vehicles are only allowed to go as far as Palchhan.
- As of now, Motorcycles are only required to pay Rs. 50 for congestion charges are exempted from all of the above mentioned restrictions.
- Tourist vehicles are only allowed to go to Rohtang from 6 AM to 12 noon and will not be allowed to stay after 4 PM.
So the final verdict is that if you want to only visit Rohtang, it has now become quite a hassle. Good news however is that if your plan is to just cross Rohtang to go towards Ladakh or Spiti valley, you do not need to concern yourself with any of these restrictions. You will however have to carry some sort of proof of your travel plans in order to obtain the verdict. Up until now, People used to prefer going to Ladakh from Manali and return via Srinagar but I guess it is about to change now. If you want to avoid all the hassles, I strongly recommend that you take the Srinagar highway to reach Ladakh and return via Manali. People planning to visit Spiti should reach there from Shimla and return via Manali.
I hope this information is useful and clarifies the current situation at Rohtang. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask.