Pir Panjal Range

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Kashmir valley seen from satellite. Snow capped Pir Panjal range separates the valley from plains.
Pir Panjal Range

The Pir Panjal Range is a group of mountains in the Inner Himalayan region, running from east-southeast (ESE) to west-northwest (WNW) across the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh and the disputed territories comprising Indian administered Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan administered Azad Kashmir, where the average elevation varies from 1,400 m (4,600 ft) to 4,100 m (13,500 ft).[1] The Himalayas show a gradual elevation towards the Dhauldhar and Pir Panjal ranges. Pir Panjal is the largest range of the lower Himalayas. Near the bank of the Sutlej river, it dissociates itself from the Himalayas and forms a divide between the rivers Beas and Ravi on one side and the Chenab on the other. The famous Murree and Galliat mountains are also located in this range.

Peaks[edit]

Deo Tibba (6,001 m (19,688 ft)) and Indrasan (6,221 m (20,410 ft)) are two important peaks at the eastern end of the mountain range. They can be approached from both the Parvati-Beas Valley (Kulu District) and the Chandra (Upper Chenab) Valley (Lahaul and Spiti District) in Himachal Pradesh. The hill station of Gulmarg in Kashmir lies in this range.[2]

Passes[edit]

The Pir Panjal pass lies to the west of Srinagar.

The Banihal pass (2,832 m (9,291 ft)) lies at the head of the Vitasta river at the southern end of the Kashmir valley. Banihal and Qazigund lie on either side of the pass.

The Sinthan pass connects Jammu and Kashmir with Kishtwar.

Pir ki Gali connects Kashmir valley with Rajouri and Poonch via Mughal road. Pir ki Gali is the highest point of Mughal road (11500 ft approx) and lies to the south west of the Kashmir valley. Nearest town to Pir Ki Gali is Shupian, the apple town of Kashmir valley.

Munawar pass Lies in the North of Pir ki Gali and over looks the town of Rajouri. Munawar pass witnessed some of the heaviest fighting during Operation Gibraltar and was held by a Pakistani Force commanded by Major Malik Munawar Khan Awan SJ who later seized Indian Garrison of Rajouri. The pass was named after him by the locals.

Rohtang La (altitude 3,978 m (13,051 ft)) is a mountain pass on the eastern Pir Panjal range connecting Manali in the Kullu Valley to Keylong in the Lahaul Valley.

Coordinates: 33°53′36″N 74°29′19″E / 33.89333°N 74.48861°E / 33.89333; 74.48861Haji Pir Pass (altitude 2,637 m (8,652 ft)) on the western Pir Panjal range on the road between Poonch and Uri is in the area of Kashmir administered by Pakistan. The pass, and therefore the strategically significant road, was taken from the control of Pakistani forces and others connected to that country by the Indian Army in 1947. The Pakistan Army later regained control, after the ceasefire .

A view towards the massive Pir Panjal range

Tunnels[edit]

Road tunnels[edit]

Existing Banihal road tunnel[edit]

A 2.5 km (1.6 mi) long tunnel through Pir Panjal mountain under the Banihal pass connects Banihal with Qazigund on the other side of the mountain. The tunnel named Jawahar tunnel after the first Prime Minister of India was constructed in early 1950s and commissioned in December 1956 to ensure snow-free passage throughout the year. It is at elevation of about 2,100 m (6,900 ft). It was designed for 150 vehicles per day but now used by more than 7,000 vehicles per day.[3] Therefore a new wider and longer tunnel has been planned at a lower elevation.

New Banihal road tunnel[edit]

Construction of a new 8.45 km (5.25 mi) long twin-tube Banihal-Qazigund road tunnel started in 2011. The new tunnel is at a lower elevation than the existing Jawahar tunnel and, when completed, would reduce the road distance between Banihal and Qazigund by 16 km (9.9 mi). It would also be less prone to snow avalanche as it will be at a lower elevation.[4]

Rohtang road tunnel[edit]

Rohtang tunnel is being built under the Rohtang Pass in the eastern Pir Panjal range of the Himalayas on the Leh-Manali Highway. With 8.8 km (5.5 mi) length, the tunnel will be the longest road tunnel in India and is expected to reduce the distance between Manali and Keylong by about 60 km (37 mi). The tunnel is at 3,100 metres (10,171 ft) elevation whereas the Rohtang pass is at 3,978 metres (13,051 ft) elevation. Lying on the Manali-Leh axis, this is one of the two routes to Ladakh..

Banihal railway tunnel[edit]

The Pir Panjal Railway Tunnel, an 11.215 kilometres (6.969 mi) railway tunnel, passes through the Pir Panjal Range in Jammu and Kashmir. It connects Quazigund and Banihal and is a part of the Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla railway project. The tunnel was commissioned on 26 June 2013 for regular service. It is India's longest and Asia's third longest railway tunnel.[5]

See also[edit]

References[edit]