Transportation In Himachal Pradesh

Himachal Pradesh and Its land have snow dressed mountains and tranquil, scenic valleys, smoothly flowing rivers and orchards of fruits and flowers. The tourists here experience adventurous and religious tourism and explore eco-tourism also. This state also has Buddhist monasteries.

Himachal Pradesh is bounded by Uttaranchal, UP, Haryana, Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir and Tibet. The magnificent valleys and famous locations like Kullu valley, Pangi valley, Chamba, Kangra, Manali, Kinnaur, Dharamshala, Dalhousie and Shimla etc are there in Himachal Pradesh to explore. The state and its different destinations can be reached easily by road, air or rail.

Tourist will feel in heaven while visiting the Kangra valley of the lower range Himalayas having background of magnificent Dhauladhar hill range. This great valley extends also the spirituality and significant ancient Hindu temples for religious tourists. Dharamshala, a town of valley, and a renowned Buddhist center fill the environment with tranquility and rituals. Buddhist Dharam Guru Dalai Lama has his holy house here. Desert Mountains frozen with snow, landscape of other snow clad peaks with lush green fields are some highlights of Kinnaur valley. This valley is a must visit for nature lovers.

History and Development

The National Highway of Tibet-Hindustan was completed in early 1960s Kinnaur was then opened for tourists. Road constructions over Rohtangpass were completed in late 1960s to open lahaul for visitors. High passes like Kunjum(4600m), Rohtang(4000m) and Baralarcha (4300m) are the only ways to connect Lahaul. Spiti, an underdeveloped area, is practically a desert of cold.

The first Indian plan for five years emphasized top and main concern for building up the competent transport system. Himachal Pradesh has airports at Jubbarhatti nearby Shimla and Bhitar in the district of Kullu. The broad gauge railway line link in 1991 extended the Delhi-Nagal rail line to Una town of Himachal Pradesh. The road transport is rich in Himachal and caters most of the transportation needs of people of this state more than that of airways and railways.


Himachal Pradesh has the highest density of roads among other Indian hill states. The natural features of Himachal through substantial challenges for the development of the infrastructures of roads. However, Himachal Pradesh has obtained noteworthy progress in road developments in gone by decades. Himachal even though has two famous rail tracks of narrow gauge and three airports but the main thrust of people and tourists is always on better and cheap road transport facilities.


By Road

National Highways (NH) is of 1234 in road length and eight in numbers pass through this State. Shahpur is touched with NH-1A. NH-20 connects Pathankot, Nurpur, and Mandi. NH-21 passes through Chandigarh to Manali via Mandi. Ambala and kaurik is connected through Shimla, Kalka and Wangtoo with NH-22. Mubarakpur, Ambala and Hamirpur are connected by NH-70. NH-21A, starting from Pinjore, Haryana, reaches Swarghat via Nalagarh and then merged to NH-21. Shimla to Kangra through Hamirpur is connected with NH-88. Starting from Ambala, NH-72 goes via Paonta Sahib in Himachal and terminated at Haridwar, Uttarakhand.

Himachal Pradesh has also a huge network of village roads and highways along with National Highways. Large numbers of tourist places such as Manali, Dharamshala and Shimla etc. have good road connectivity. Snowfall, Washouts and landslides block the village roads during monsoon and winter seasons and are called seasonal roads. For example the road from Manali to Leh is almost closed during winter season. Moreover, the World Bank has sanctioned 220 million Dollar loan to Himachal Government for important sectors road network development. The Himachal Road Transport Corporation (HRTC), a Government under taking, operates buses network not even to all routes of the state but to other states also. Himachal Pradesh is a chief tourist destination in India so there is not any shortage of taxis and private buses. District Hamirpur of Himachal has highest density of roads among all hilly states of India.
 Deluxe buses, high tech. buses, Luxury coach buses and ordinary buses are four types of bus services which are being operated by HRTC. Manali and Shimla cities have large bus agencies for private bus services.

By Railway

There exist two rail tracks of narrow-gauge. The railway track from Shimla to Kalka has a span of 96km. This famous railway track crosses 864 bridges and passes from side to side 102 tunnels. This railway track is over a century old now. This engineering wonder of colonial India from Kalka to Shimla is of panoramic view. The difficulties in laying this narrow gauge track could be judged and felt by travelling on this route. The proposed and longest railway track of Bilaspur to Leh via Mandi in Himachal Pradesh is expected to be the utmost elevated railway track world over.

The length of Jogindernagar-Pathankot railway track is around 113kms. Though these two tracks are not commercially viable, but they are being operated owing to their legacy.

Nangal Dam in Punjab to Una in Himachal is a broad gauge existing line. This line is further being extended with operational track till churu takarla. Himachal Express and Jan Shatabdi connect Delhi to Una.

By Air

There are three airports in the state of Himachal namely Gaggal airport at Kangara, Shimla airport at Shimla and Bhuntar airport at Kullu. Severe weather situations in winter force flights to be operated in seasons only. The runways of these airports are shorter so the smaller aircrafts are allowed to operate. ATR, a 42-seater aircraft, is a common airplane for these runways.

Inland Water Transport

The Transport department of Himachal Pradesh also bears the responsibilities of managing the transport in inland water. The tiny artificial lakes made out of hydroelectric projects are the only places for water transports in this state, in absence of large water bodies. The activities of water transport are operational only at four chief water bodies in the state. They are Pandoh lake of district Mandi, Gobind Sagar lake of Bilaspur district, Chamera lake of Chamba district and Kangra district’s Pong lake. Since the state did not have any major water body so great attention has not yet been paid to develop comfortable, safe and sound modes of water transport in the state.

Feeling the importance of water transport in tourism, Government is now firm to develop water transport in a big way. For this purpose, two separate strategies have been postulated. They are

  • To amend suitably, the existing Ferries Act for the improvements in passengers safety.
  • To develop facilities for passengers and in the region of Lakes.

For this purpose in 2004, the state Government dispatched a team of officials for related studies to Goa and Kerala. The current problems of State in water transport and observations of official studies summed up to redraft the new Ferries Act. A copy of this draft has been uploaded on internet for suggestions and comments about probable and better improvements in provisions proposed in this draft. Another copy was sent to Deputy Commissioners for their independent comments.

A project on Gobind Sagar Lake was formulated first time for the development of facilities to passengers and sent to shipping Ministry of central Govt. through Indian inland water Ways Authority. The Government has endorsed INR 1.17 crore in the financial year 2004-05 for the project and work is in progress.


Himachal Pradesh has also got other hired modes of transport. The travelling agencies and car rental services provide taxis, cabs, cars and jeeps to hire at/ from the cities of New-Delhi, Manali and Shimla etc. The interested tourists can also enjoy commuting options like trekking and walking on haughty hills in Himachal.

The transport options in Himachal Pradesh are immense for the visitors and in every form for reaching to desired destination.

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