Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday inaugurated the Atal Tunnel - the world's longest motorable tunnel at over 3,000 metres above sea level.
The 9.02km horseshoe-shaped single-tube, two-lane tunnel has been built under the 3,978metre Rohtang Pass in the Pir Panjal range in Himachal Pradesh.
The all-weather tunnel that connects Manali with Leh has been completed after a decade of missed deadlines and obstacles.
For the people of Lahaul and surrounding areas, who were earlier cut off from October to April due to cold weather, the tunnel will be a lifeline, reducing the distance between Manali and Lahaul by about 45km.
Border Road Organisation tunnel project chief engineer K.P. Purushothaman said travel time will be cut by five hours.
The tunnel has already become a tourist attraction for locals and others. But the authorities are worried that many of them are often seen gathered inside the tunnel.
Speeding and unnecessary stoppages of vehicles have also been reported.