So, I am a sucker for road trips. Train trips are fun too, but frankly, I am losing the patience to travel for hours, locked in unhygienic compartments with strangers. This is not my idea of an ideal mode of travelling. And airplane travel is just plain boring; something I do only when I absolutely need to, which is unfortunately a lot more than I like. Road trips, on the other hand, are relaxed and enjoyable. To reach from destination A to B, one crosses multiple cities, villages, lifestyles, cultures and even states. There is so much more that one experiences even before reaching the destination – imagine not seeing them just because you are travelling by air or rail?
Of course, one has to look at the feasibility of it all, but hey, I love road trips and thankfully, so does the husband. Not only do you get to enjoy and soak in the atmosphere through the journey, if you are travelling with your partner, it does wonders to your relationship. Yes, road trips also double as relationship builder.
Having said that, how can I be an advocate for road trips, if I don’t suggest few kick-ass destinations for the same? So here is a list of what I think are the best roads to travel on, with in India. Go on, take a break. Fuel your car, pack your bags, grab your music and get the wheels rolling!
Manali to Leh
Leh-Manali Road Trip (c) Wikicommons
The best time to make this trip is between June to September. The snow melts and rains begin. The small rivers start taking shape with the melted snow. You will have a distance of about 480 kms to cover and it will take about two days, with ample rests. If your vehicle is not from Himachal Pradesh, you’ll need a permit from SDM office, Manali. This doesn’t apply to bikes, of course. Be careful while driving as the texture of the roads are different from what we are used to in rest of India.
The route you’ll take would look something like this: Manali – Rohtang – Gramphu – Kokhsar – Keylong – Jispa – Darcha – Zingzingbar – Baralacha La – Bharatpur – Sarchu – Gata Loops – Nakee La – Lachulung La – Pang – Tanglang La – Gya – Upshi – Karu – Leh.
I must add, that the drive back from Leh to Manali is more enjoyable as there is no rush, no bothering about pit-stops & GPS, and since you will be driving downhill, all the more fun, minus the nausea.
Below is a video of the road trip from Manali to Leh by Kartazon Dream:
Bengaluru to Nandi Hills
View From Nandi Hills (c) WikiCommons
The distance of 61 kms can be covered in an hour and half, to two hours, depending on the infamous traffic. Situated at a height of about 4800 ft above sea level, the experience of being on a road trip becomes exceedingly breathtaking once you start driving up the hill. There are sharp turns, so be careful. Anytime of the year is a good time to make this trip as the climate is fairly moderate in this section of the country. You have the option to drive back before it’s dark, or you can put up in the farm stays or guest houses in the outskirts.
Below is a video taken by Joshu Samson, of a bike ride down Nandi Hills:
Guwahati to Tawang
Tawang City (c) WikiCommons
Covering a distance of almost 500 kms, the journey from Guwahati to Tawang is made through the world’s second highest motorable road. You have the choice to stop over and spend the night, at Bhalukpong and/or at Dhirang. The condition of the roads deteriorate as you move beyond Dhirang, so be careful when you drive, and be patient. It will take a while. The road is an excellent six-lane upto Tezpur, so you will get to enjoy the drive as well. Arunachal Pradesh is a paradise and any traveller would love to experience such natural beauty.
Below is a video of Tawang road trip uploaded by Sandipan Borthakur:
The largest district of India, Kutch is pretty well-connected with Ahmedabad via other means of transport as well. However, the roads and the scenic beauty on both sides of the roads, demand that a road trip is made. About 400 kms far, when on a road trip, you pass through desert and even get to witness changing cultures as you pass. The entire road is a delight to drive on. On the way, you can stop at Dholavira which happens to be the only city of Harappan Indus Civilization in India, and go back to 5000 years. Here, you can also see the Kutch Fossil Park and enjoy an amazing view of the White Rann. Moving ahead, you can halt at Bhuj and spend the evening with the captivating white desert, while you head off to Kutch the next morning.
Sharing a very interesting documentary on Kutch, below:
Puri to Konark
Konark Sun Temple built by the Eastern Ganga
dynasty is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
A very short road trip, but definitely worth the attempt, the distance between Puri and Konark is 35 kms and takes barely as much time. Drive through lush green locales and drive by the sea too. If this isn’t cool, I don’t know what else is. You can hear the waves splashing on the shores as you drive through the distance. The roads are great, making the drive absolutely worth the effort.
Below is a video of the beautiful road trip from Puri to Konark, uploaded by Jai Prakash Singh:
To travel from Jaipur to Ranthambore by road, you will need to take the Jaipur-Kota road highway and go via Basi, Lalsot, and Justana until you reach Ranthambore. A distance of about 150 kms, it can be covered in roughly 4 hours, approximately. The road is well-peppered with eating and resting joints, and petrol pumps at regular distances. While pink city Jaipur is famous for forts, palaces and monuments, Ranthambore is one of the largest national parks in northern India. You stand a chance to spot wild animals here, if you are cautious. The best time to make this trip is from October to June as in the rest of the year, the park is closed for visitors.
Catch this video of the Ranthambore National Park:
The distance from Shillong to Cherrapunji is about 54 kms and makes for a perfect road trip. The climate is amazing and the beauty on both sides of the road, mesmerizing. Meghalaya is beautiful; the roads are wide and good. Women entrepreneurs are everywhere and the people are very warm. Hills, forests, pastures – greenery everywhere. There is not a single reason why you should not be doing this road trip if you are planning a trip to the north-east part of India.
Here is a video of the road trip from Shillong to Cherrapunji:
Gangtok to Lake Tsomgo
Tsomgo Lake, Sikkim (c) Sankalp Sharma
Sikkim is geographically placed between West Bengal and the seven sister states of north east India. A picturesque state, it is pollution free. Vehicle usage is restricted to the outside areas in the capital city of Gangtok while smoking in public, littering and usage of plastic bags are banned throughout the city. So, you can just imagine how beautiful every corner of the state is. The drive takes longer than what the distance would take on the plains, but that is because the route is zig-zag swirling around the mountains. Keep your medication near if you get motion sickness, and your cameras ready. The views are spectacular and need to be captured. The distance of about 56 kms takes you to Tsomgo Lake which is at the altitude of 3753 mtrs/12,310 ft. The lake is on the Gangtok-Lhasa trade route which falls between Sikkim and Tibet.
Here is a video showing the Tsomgo Lake and nearby:
The distance between Vishakhapatnam and Araku Valley is about 115 kms and takes around 2 hours and 45 minutes. If Vishakhapatnam is quaint and beautiful, wait till you reach Araku valley. The entire route has beautiful sights on both sides and while a journey on the train is also enjoyable, a road trip makes the journey worth all the trouble. If you are travelling to Vishakhapatnam, while it is understandable that the beaches will keep you occupied, you simply need to take at least a day off and drive down to Araku valley.
Digha is probably one of Kolkata’s favourite weekend getaway. An ultimate destination to relax and rewind in the lap of nature, Digha is about 180 kms from the capital city. One can reach there about 3-4 hours. July to March is the ideal time to visit Digha.