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Travel: The best road trips in India

Last updated on: August 16, 2013 08:23 IST

Travel: The best road trips in India

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India with its vast road network gives you various destinations to choose from for a road trip. You have the mountains where you ride through clouds, coastal getaways with the sea for company, and retreats into forests where nature silences the sound of your engine. Nathaniel D’Costa picks out four varied and revered road trips across the country.

Road trips in India were once exclusively for those longhaired, Bullet-riding men.

And truck drivers. 

The lack of comfortable long haul bikes or cars, coupled with roads that rivalled the moon’s surface and highway hotels that would make a visit to your in-laws seem exciting, meant that you took a road trip only if you were fed up with society or had to get away from a really annoying girl/boyfriend.

But now we have four and six-lane highways, street cattle are at an all time low, and GPS and smart phones give you directions to the nearest McDonald’s.

This means the time is ripe to pack your bags, fill up your tanks and laugh at the ridiculous road signs that the Highway Authority of India puts up.

Courtesy:YouthIncMag.com


Photographs: Vir Nakai/Creative Commons

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Mumbai-Goa

Distance: 677 km

Weapon of choice: Any car or bike that keeps you comfortable. A vehicle with strong torque is recommended to overtake heavy vehicles on the highway.

Why you should do this: Goa is one spot where the destination could potentially outshine the journey. That’s not to say that the journey will be difficult – far from it, actually.

Boasting one of the smoothest highways in the country, the Mumbai to Goa road trip is the ideal way to get to those beautiful beaches. The highway passes through long stretches through Maharashtra’s hinterland, interloped with a moderate ghat section that a driver will enjoy.

Pit stops: Besides the ghats, you also pass the famous Karnala Bird Sanctuary and the scenic beauty of river Vashisti. If you’re the type who likes to make the most of the trip then you could take a slight detour and visit the unspoilt beaches of Ganpatipule and explore the village of Malvan, which has the historic Sindhudurg fort built by Shivaji.

If you’re travelling in summer aka mango season, make sure you pick up the famous Ratnagiri Alphonso mangoes along the way.


Photographs: Rajesh Karkera/Rediff.com

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Delhi-Manali-Leh

Distance: 1018 km

Weapon of choice: An SUV (preferably with 4-wheel drive) or a Royal Enfield.

Why you should do this: This route is the big daddy of Indian road trips. This route has gained fame with the challenges it throws and the rewards it offers upon successfully accomplishing them.

While the Delhi to Manali ride is relatively easy and affords you great views, the Manali to Leh trip is undoubtedly the toughest.

Manali-Leh has the highest roads to navigate in the world and only opens in June. Though it can be exhausting and unpredictable, you will return with an experience of a life time.

Pit stops: This route is known for its breathtaking and spectacular views of the Himalayan hills, valleys and glaciers. Stop at any chai shop and the view should make your day.

There also a number of Buddhist monasteries along the way that serve as a good resting point for a breather.


Image: On the way to Khardung La, a high mountain pass in Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir.
Photographs: Deepak Sharma/Creative Commons

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Jaisalmer-Jodhpur-Jaipur-Ranthambore

Distance: 780 km

Weapon of choice: An SUV is your best bet so you can get off the tarmac sometimes and go exploring.

Why you should do this: This journey will take you through the heart of India. If you are a photography enthusiast, this trip will provide the most varied subjects.

The drive starts at the Golden City of Jaisalmer which houses palaces and ornate Jain temples, and ends at the forests of Ranthambore where you might just spot a tiger in the wild.

Pit stops: Make sure you visit the old city of Jodhpur where you are taken back in time to the era of Rajputs.

Next on the agenda is the capital of Rajasthan, Jaipur. This city is known for its fine architecture and is included in the list of World Heritage Sites.

The final leg of the trip will take you to the green fertile hunting grounds of the kings, Ranthambore. One of the largest natural reserves in India, the Ranthambore reserve is home to tigers, leopards, deer, snakebird, peacocks and a variety of plants and reptiles.


Image: The entrance of Mehrangarh Fort, Jodhpur
Photographs: Rajesh Karkera/Rediff.com

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Guwahati-Tawang

Distance: 481 km

Weapon of choice: This route does not have the greatest of roads and some stretches are prone to landslides. Make sure your vehicle is sturdy and not too fussy.

Why you should do this: The east of India is not very well represented as a tourist destination. Not many people know about the natural beauty or the land’s rich cultural heritage that make this region a fabulous tourist spot.

Pack in your rain gear if you plan to take a detour to visit the wettest spot on the planet at Cherrapunji (about 150 km from Guwahati).

Pit stops: In Cherrapunji, marvel at the slightly creepy looking ‘living bridges’ built out of the growing roots of trees by the local tribes.

Visit the World War Two cemeteries at Imphal.

Complete the trip by stalking the endangered one-horned Indian rhino at Kaziranga National Park and visiting the Tawang monastery in Arunachal Pradesh.


Image: Sela Pass, Tawang
Photographs: Rajkumar1220/Creative Commons

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What to carry with you

Maps: While smartphones do the job, our country doesn’t really have network all over, contrary to some telecom company claims.

iPod/Mp3 player: Make sure you pack it up with peppy tunes that you can sing along to while driving.

Cash: Because you won’t always be near an ATM and you’ll need money for tolls and bites enroute.

Mobile charger: While being cut off from the world is tempting, you don’t want to be stranded in the middle of nowhere.

First aid kit: Keep it simple with antiseptic, bandages and tablets for headaches and stomach upsets.

Snacks and drinking water: Always keep them around because you have to stay refreshed


Photographs: Rajesh Karkera/Rediff.com
Tags: ATM , India

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