Whether it be for their strategic importance or their contribution in making commerce a more viable proposition, for furthering touristry pursuits or for enhancing trade and ties, modes and ways of connectivity are more than just a feature of any country’s transportation mechanism. Making landscapes more surveyable and regions more accessible, these roads and road tunnels might take tons of effort to carve out specially along treacherous terrains but they indeed do serve to bring even otherwise difficult terrains within the treadable ambit. The vast expanse of diversity that the Indian mainland incorporates in its terrains, it is only expected that the country would play host to some of the longest and highest of motorable roads and road tunnels. Here’s 10 such of the longest road tunnel in India that truly serve to make India a more discoverable entity-
Zoji- la Tunnel (Jammu and Kashmir)
A 14.2 kilometer long road tunnel, the Zoji- la Tunnel under the Zoji- la Pass is being constructed as a strategic requirement by the armed forces of India as the namesake pass is close to the volatile area of Line of Control and is therefore vulnerable to hostility. Slated to be the longest bi- directional road tunnel in Asia on completion, the Zoji- la Tunnel will reduce the time taken to cross the pass from three hours to a mere fifteen minutes.
Planned as a smart tunnel that would incorporate state of the art technology, Zoji- la Tunnel would ensure year round connectivity between Srinagar and Kargil which otherwise is contentious issue during the long winter months that sees heavy snowfall and avalanches. The Zoji- La tunnel will also be advantageous for the defense forces in ensuring supplies to border posts all along the duration of the year. Also expected to boost tourism and trade due to easier accessibility of the otherwise treacherous terrain, the Zoji- la Tunnel commands importance more than just being the longest road tunnel in India currently.
Sela Tunnel (Arunachal Pradesh)
A 12.04 kilometers long tunnel that will run through the Sela Pass in Arunachal Pradesh, the namesake Sela Tunnel is a step forward in ensuring all-weather connectivity between the region of Tawang in the state to Guwahati in Assam in the north eastern region of India. Along the NH 13, the Sela Tunnel is a twin encompassment that has two tunnel of lengths 1790 and 475 meters each. Expected to be complete by 2022 year end, the Sela Tunnel will reduce the distance between Dirang and Tawang by 10 km thereby enhancing connectivity of the region.
Syama Tunnel (Jammu And Kashmir)
The Syama Tunnel or the Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee Tunnel at a length of 9.28 kilometers has been the longest highway tunnel in Asia since it was inaugurated in 2017. Formerly called the Chenani- Nashri tunnel, the road tunnel runs along the NH44 in the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir and will reduce the distance as well as the travel time between Chenani and Nashri and hence between Jammu and Srinagar. The country’s first road tunnel with transverse ventilation system, the Syama Tunnel is also called the Patnitop Tunnel and is an all weather route that boasts of an altitudinal setting of 4000 feet above sea level in the difficult Himalayan terrain. Situated under the Shivalik mountain ranges of the Himalayas, the Shyama tunnel has its twin confines serving both strategic as well as commercial purposes.
Rohtang Tunnel (Himachal Pradesh)
Slated to become the world’s longest tunnel at an altitude above 3,000 m or 10,000 ft when it opens officially in June 2020, the Rohtang Tunnel is also one among the longest road tunnel in India. A highway tunnel that is being built under the Rohtang Pass on the Leh Manali Highway, the 8.8 kilometers long tunnel is intended to create an all-weather route to the Leh and Lahaul and Spiti valleys in Himachal Pradesh.
Renamed the Atal Tunnel in 2019 after the former Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on his birthday on 25th December, the tunnel stands at an altitude slightly lower than the 3,978 metres high Rohtang Pass but sits high enough to surpass the 5 kilometers long Anzob Tunnel in Tajikistan with an altitude of 3,372 metres as the world’s highest among the longest tunnels.
As the Rohtang Tunnel is set to rout one of the only two routes to Ladakh, namely the Leh- Manali Highway, it is expected to reduce the distance between Himachal Pradesh’s Manali and Keylong regions by about 46 kilometers that would further the ease of accessibility. Furthermore, traffic time would also be reduced considerably from about five to six hours to a mere half an hour, sans traffic snarls. Notably, being one of the regions of India that experience heavy snowfall during the winter months, the Rohtang Pass remains closed for majority of the years. The completion of the Rohtang Pass will thereby ensure that the highway remains open all throughout and transportation become a lesser hassle characterising the region. As an all weather road route to ensure year round connectivity, the Atal tunnel indeed harbours much more importance that the mere claim of being one of the world’s highests.
Banihal Qazigund Road Tunnel (Jammu and Kashmir)
A proposed 8.5 kilometers road tunnel in the region of Jammu and Kashmir is another of the contender for being the longest in India. Seeking to connect the regions of Banihal and Qazigund in the Union Territory, this double tube tunnel at an elevation of 1790 meters would be a crucial strategic construction because it comes without the bottlenecks that a much elevated Jawahar Tunnel is susceptible to. Expected to open sometime in 2021 after a decade of its inception, the dual road featuring two interconnected parallel tunnels would reduce the connecting road distance by some 16 kilometers along the NH44.
Z-Morh Tunnel (Jammu and Kashmir)
A 6.5 kilometers long road tunnel that owes its presence also in Jammu and Kashmir, the Z- Morh tunnel seeks to ensure all weather accessibility between the cities of Srinagar and Kargil in the Ladakh region of the union territory. A strategic construction that will reduce also travel time time between the regions apart from fostering all year round connectivity, the Z- Morh tunnel is also expected to boost tourism in the Sonamarg region thereby boding well for its economic and social development. Coming up near the Gangir region in Ganderbal district of Jammu and Kashmir, the tunnel gets its name from the Z formation between Sonamarg and Gagangir and will significantly reduce travel time between Srinagar and Leh. At an elevation of 2637 meters above sea level, the tunnel is slated to near completion towards the middle of this decade.
Aut Tunnel (Himachal Pradesh)
One of the longest road tunnel in India, the Aut Tunnel is also one of the world’s most dangerous roads. Located on the Chandigarh- Manali NH 21, the almost three kilometers long tunnel serves as the only getaway to Kullu- Manali. The doubled laned traffic tunnel located near the Larji Dam Reservoir in Himachal Pradesh was one of the longest of its kind in Asia when it opened in 2006 and makes for a fifteen minute journey along its risky confines.
Ghat Ki Guni Tunnel (Rajasthan)
A 2.8 kilometers long tunnel on the Jaipur- Agra Highway, Rajasthan’s Ghat ki Guni Tunnel is an alternative route that connects the capital of the state to the city of Agra. Running through the Jhalana Hills and flanked by heritage buildings on either side, the tunnel is also the only entry and exit point in Jaipur from the eastern side and is easily one of the most picturesque road tunnel in India. A twin tunnel that has been operational since 2013, the Ghat ki Guni is known for its beautiful lighting inside the tunnel while an equally mesmerising expanse of view beckons from the outside. A driving experience through this route on the National Highway 11 makes for a trip to cherish along one of the most beautiful roads in India.
Jawahar Tunnel (Jammu And Kashmir)
Another of the longest road tunnel in India named after an Indian Prime Minister, Jawahar Tunnel or the Banihal Tunnel runs 2.5 kilometers long beneath the Banihal Pass. Nestled in the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir, the Banihal Tunnel is not just strategically important; in its locational advantage that renders it to run through the paradise on earth, the tunnel is also one of the most scenic in terms of the stupendous view it offers all throughout.
Operation for more than half a century now since 1956, the Jawahar Tunnel runs from the town of Banihal to that of Qazigund in Jammu and Kashmir. Standing at an elevation of 2194 meters above sea level, the tunnel facilitates round-the-year road connectivity between Srinagar and Jammu. A two laned tunnel that was constructed for round-the-year surface transport, the Jawahar Tunnel has undergone considerable renovation and now sports a two-way ventilation system, pollution & temperature sensors, lighting system while being constantly under CCTV surveillance.
Bhatan Tunnel (Maharashtra)
Regarded as one of the more advanced tunnels in India, the Bhatan Tunnel in Maharashtra is a six lane tunnel that runs for some distance over one kilometer along the Mumbai- Pune Expressway. Operational for two decades now since 2000, the Bhatan Tunnel is one of the six tunnels that make up for more than five kilometers of the Expressway. With the scenic beauty of the Sahyadri range in tow, the tunnel is also as much of a picturesque route as it is a technological masterpiece.