November 23, 2023 – Attention all road trippers and adventure enthusiasts! The Manali-Leh national highway, a popular route known for its breathtaking landscapes, has officially closed for the year. The closure, effective from November 20 onwards, comes as a precautionary measure due to the increasingly cold weather conditions and potential hazards associated with winter driving.
Administrators from Lahaul-Spiti and Ladakh have issued directives to close key roads, including Gramphu-Kaza, Darcha-Sarchu, and Darcha-Shinku La. This strategic decision, prioritizing the safety of travelers, is expected to be in effect for approximately six months, until around May of the following year. During this period, the natural thawing of snow on the highway will be allowed.
Officials from the Lahaul administration have emphasized the strict enforcement of closure orders, stating that strict action will be taken against those attempting to violate the directive and traverse the route during this winter closure. Despite the highway’s closure, officials have clarified that vehicle movement from Manali to Darcha will be permitted, contingent upon favorable weather conditions.
The decision to close the Leh-Manali road stems from the challenges posed by icy roads, particularly at elevated mountain passes, leading to vehicles getting stranded in the harsh winter conditions. The Ladakh administration’s order, effective November 20, prohibits vehicular movement from Upshi police check post, Leh, towards Darcha. Authorities are urging local police to rigorously enforce these orders and advising tourists to refrain from traveling during this period to avoid inconvenience.
The Manali-Leh route has a history of numerous rescues each year, as travelers often find themselves stranded. Lahaul-Spiti police and the Border Roads Organization (BRO) play a crucial role in these rescue operations. With two instances of snowfall already reported in October and November, the closure is a proactive step aimed at prioritizing public safety in the face of challenging weather conditions.