India has made great strides in the realm of construction and connectivity over the years. Civil work is happening at an incredible pace to keep up with the needs of the increasing population, and also to streamline the process of traveling to new places. Passes and tunnels in India play a major role in increasing connectivity and efficiency. But let us talk about two of the significant and longest tunnels in India.
There are many tunnels in India, and many more being constructed, but the longest rail tunnel in India is the Pir Panjal tunnel. However, the longest road tunnel is the Chenani Nashri tunnel. Yes, both these tunnels are great in terms of connectivity. So, let’s find out more!
The Longest Tunnel (by road) – Chenani Nashri tunnel
The longest tunnel in India (by road) is the Chenani Nashri tunnel, also called the Patnitop tunnel. This is a road tunnel that measures 9.28 km in length, that equates to around 5.8 miles. It is located on NH 44 (National Highway 44) in Jammu and Kashmir, India. NH 44 is the longest running highway in India, running from Srinagar in the North to Kanyakumari in the South. This two-lane tunnel was opened on 2 April 2017.
The Chenani Nashri tunnel is 13 m wide. It is located at an altitude of nearly 4000 ft in arduous Himalayan conditions. It has an operating speed of upto 50 kmph. Apart from being the longest road tunnel in India, it is also one of the longest in Asia.
The Longest Tunnel (by rail)– Pir Panjal tunnel
The longest tunnel via rail is the Pir Panjal tunnel. This is a railway tunnel that measures 11.215 km in length, equates to around 7 miles. It is located in the Pir Panjal Range of the mid Himalayas, in Jammu and Kashmir, India. This railway tunnel is part of the Jammu-Baramulla railway line and was open commercially from 27 June 2013.
It takes 9 minutes and 30 seconds, on an average, for a train to cross through the tunnel. Pir Panjal tunnel is 8.4 m wide and 7.39 m high. It is a single track railway line with operating speed up to 75 kmph, or 47 mph.
Apart from being the longest tunnel in India, it is also the 4th longest in Asia via rail.
Other tunnels in the vicinity
Apart from the Pir Panjal tunnel and the Chenani Nashri tunnel, there are a few other tunnels in the vicinity.
The Jawahar tunnel is a 2.5 km long road tunnel through the mountain range, under the Banihal pass. It was commissioned in December 1956 to accommodate travel through the mountain ranges without being hindered by snow, for approximately 150 vehicles a day. However, it is now used by more than 7000 vehicles per day.
There is construction happening on the Banihal Qazigund road tunnel. This one will be longer than the Jawahar tunnel and also at a lower elevation. The Rohtang tunnel is also being planned under the Rohtang pass and will have connectivity to Ladakh.
A plan is also to build a tunnel under Zoji La, connecting Sonamarg to Drass. Zoji La tunnel will be the longest bi-directional road tunnel in Asia with a length of 14.2 km.
Places of interest nearby
The Kashmiri hill station of Gulmarg is in the Pir Panjal range. Two well-known peaks – Deo Tibba (19, 688 ft.) and Indrasan (20,410 ft.) are also located at the eastern end of the Pir Panjal range. These peaks often feature on the lists of mountain climbing enthusiasts.
Also nearby is the Pir Panjal Pass. Locally known as Peer ki Gali, it connects the Kashmir Valley to Rajouri and Poonch through ‘Mughal Road, both of which are districts in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. The closest town to the Pir Panjal pass is called Shopian, and it is a beautiful and quaint place that is worth a visit for its unspoiled beauty.
Rohtang La is a mountain pass on the eastern part of the Pir Panjal mountain range, which connects Manali to Keylong. Manali is, of course, a well-known beauty, and definitely worth a visit.
Dalhousie is a beautiful hill station nearby. It is a great place to see the beautiful mountain ranges of Pir Panjal in all their glory. Dalhousie is known for its wonderful weather and tourist attractions. You will also find a huge wildlife sanctuary, called Kalatop Wildlife sanctuary.
Near Dalhousie, in the district of Chamba, you can find the beautiful Chamera lake and dam, which is ideal for water sports for tourists, due to lack of aquatic life. There are many provisions for water sports near the lake.
A trip worth taking
The Pir Panjal tunnel is much more than just a railway tunnel. It is also a testament to India’s growing civil strength and construction abilities. The increase in efficiency and connectivity alone is worth lauding. It is located in such a wondrous place with pockets that have been untouched and unspoiled for years.
A trip through Pir Panjal gives you the opportunity to see so many other wondrous things. Beautiful lakes, mountains, hill stations and wildlife sanctuaries abound. And you’ll be able to say you traveled through India’s longest tunnel, too! Have you been here? Let us know in the comments below. If you want us to help create a wonderful journey for you, feel free to reach out to us on Twitter/Facebook/Instagram.