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Top 5 most romantic drives in India

By Anita Rao Kashi
Last updated on: February 02, 2015 12:19 IST
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What better way to rekindle your passion than a road trip right?

Anita Rao Kashi suggests these five routes:

1. Darjeeling to Gangtok

Darjeeling might be the queen of the hills but it is so run over by the hordes that it is a pleasure to just head out.

But don't head out just anywhere.

Choose to head to Sikkim and its capital Gangtok.

On the way you are likely to encounter lush green tea plantations, verdant valleys and towering mountains, some even tinged with snow.

At this time of the year, with the winter receding and giving way to spring, the weather is bound to be lovely and nippy and should be ideal for a romantic drive, aided by spectacular scenery.

Distance: 95 km

Image used for representational purposes only.

Photograph: Daniel Peckham/Creative Commons

2. Jodhpur to Jaisalmer

Nothing can bring home the stark natural beauty, the incredible colour and culture of Rajasthan than the long drive from Jodhpur to Jaisalmer.

Weaving in and out of difficult terrain is an experience in itself.

But it is made more romantic and surreal by the presence of the vast Thar Desert and shifting sand dunes.

If the urge overcomes you, do stop by the side and do climb sand dunes for a memorable experience and even more memorable panoramic views of the harsh desert.

Don't miss wandering around the two iconic towns on either end -- Jaisalmer, known as the golden city for its sandstone structures and Jodhpur, the blue city and the stunning Mehrangarh fort.

Distance: 305 km

Image used for representational purposes only.

Photograph: Anurag Agnihotri/Creative Commons

3. Mumbai-Pune Expressway

This is 95 km of sheer bliss connecting two iconic cities.

It heralded the arrival of high speed Western style freeways in India and triggered a gamut of such roads across the country.

Needless to say, it is a delight to motorists.

The journey takes just two hours, cutting down journey time between the two cities by at least 50 per cent.

The road is smooth and seamless, with well designed and regulated exchanges .It passes through the Sahyadri mountain range -- along the Lonavla and Khandala Ghats -- providing some of the most stunning views of hills and vales.

The road also passes along beautiful lakes, streams and waterfalls.

It has five illuminated tunnels, mimicking to a small extent the railway route between the two cities.

If you want to prolong the experience, head on towards Panaji in Goa (580km).

Distance: 95 km

Photograph: Nagesh Kamath/Creative Commons

4. Mangalore to Karwar

This one is possibly Karnataka's best kept secret.

The road is not smooth all the way but the scenery and flavours unravelling at every kilometre makes up for it.

There are many hidden beaches behind hamlets and thick fringes of swaying coconut farms.

Explore the peaceful Malpe and rather fascinatingly rough St Mary's Isles, kitcshy Gokarna and Murudeshwar, and the spectacularly sublime Devbagh outside Karwar.

Stop at Maravanthe for the most surreal sight: the road flanked by the sea on one side and a river on the other.

Then there are the stunning vistas of the Western Ghats, considered to be among the most diverse and ecologically rich habitats in the world.

Along much of the way, the ghats are a constant companion on one side of the road.

Interspersed along the road are famous temple towns -- Udupi, Murudeshwar, Gokarna.

Tiny deviations will take you to some lesser known spiritual abodes – Karkala, Kateel, Moodabidri and Idagunji.

And then there's the famous coastal cuisine of Karnataka -- Udupi dosas, kori gassi, fish and prawn curries, sannas, neer dosa....the list can go on.

Distance: 320 km

Photograph: Anita Rao Kashi

5. Kochi to Kumarakom

Narrow but neats this route is a pleasure to drive.

The weather could be a bit of a dampener but shaded backwaters and thick forests offer such grand views that it is easy to forget the discomfort.

At Kochi, be sure to absorb the many flavours of this city: the quaint Fort Kochi area with its narrow streets, Chinese fishing nets and ancient churches; the Jewish quarter and melting pot of cultures at Mattancherry and the hustle-bustle of Kochi proper and Ernakulam.

Along the way, there are plenty of places to stop, either to take in the views, to indulge in lotus eating or check out the fauna, including the avian variety, of which there's plenty, especially at the Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary.

At Kumarakom on the Vembanad Lake which is a collection of tiny islets, are places tucked away from the eyes of the tourists, which offer the real Kerala experience.

Don't forget to enjoy the karimeen (pearl spot), which is abundant in the Vembanad lake, cooked in traditional Kerala style.

Distance: 85 km

Photograph: Anita Rao Kashi

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