27 January, 2021

Rohtang Diary: Story of a Tunnel

The real story of how the stunning passage to Lahaul was conceived, planned and engineered. Roerich’s landscapes and Manali’s cafes beckoned, but a Union minister has work to do.

Illustration by Saahil
Rohtang Diary: Story of a Tunnel
Country Road….

A bumpy drive along a winding road with treacherous blind turns. Breathtaking panoramic views of snow-capped mountains. Gushing waters of a meandering Beas in the valley below. Long stretches with no human habitation in sight, interrupted intermittently by tiny hamlets with signs of chaotic civilisation—dhabas and tourists.

This could have passed off as an ideal vacation—away from the daily grind of political life and ministerial responsibilities. But then, as luck would have it, this was a journey I would make several times during my stint as the minister of state for defence (2006-2012). I would return invigorated each time despite the arduous travel. And each visit would make me more conscious of the many challenges that these serene yet gruelling parts of Manali, Leh and Lahaul presented our soldiers and civilians alike.

My responsibilities as the minister of state for defence included those as the chairman of...



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