More than 2,000 taxis remained off the roads to protest the local administration's decision restricting the entry of tourist vehicles bound for the Rohtang Pass beyond Gulaba, Raj Kumar Dogra, president of the Him-aanchal Taxi Operators Union, told IANS.
Gulaba is on the way to the Rohtang Pass and is 26 km from Manali. He said the BRO (Border Roads Organisation) had cleared the snow leading to the Rohtang Pass in the last week of April and the administration assured that the tourist vehicles bound for the pass would be allowed in the first week of May.
"Till date tourists are not allowed to go beyond Gulaba," Dogra said.
It is the snow that is only attracting the tourists to Manali this season, he added.
"At Gulaba the snow has melted. We are requesting the administration to allow the tourist vehicles to reach up to Marhi, which is just eight km ahead of Gulaba, so that the tourists can enjoy the snow there," Mr Dogra added.
Auto and private mini bus operators of Manali have also joined the protest.
The picturesque Rohtang Pass, located in the Pir Panjal range of the Himalayas and 52 km from here, is a major attraction for both domestic and foreign tourists. Till mid-June, it is covered with snow.
"We have come all the way from Kolkata to enjoy the snowy landscape. On reaching here we were told that the tourists are not allowed to go there. This is very unprofessional of the local authorities," Abhijit Chatterji said.
Official sources said currently vehicles carrying locals and government officials, who are bound for Lahaul-Spiti district are allowed to ply across the Rohtang Pass, located at an altitude of 13,050 feet in Kullu district.