Does your wanderlust prompt you to go somewhere, but the safety concerns in the current COVID situation hold you back? You might not be able to travel internationally right now, but yes, there are myriad ways to break free of the monotony and satiate the desire for a thrilling experience. How about a road trip in India? With the road trips becoming the travel trend following the slackening of restrictions on domestic travel, adventure enthusiasts and avid bikers have found in the road trips the much-needed respite from routine.
“Roads were made for journeys not destinations.” Let’s take the meaning of this sentence in its literal sense for now and embark on a road trip in India, a country blessed with diverse landscapes. The added advantage of any road trip in India is that the destination is as scenic as the journey. So, fasten your helmet/ seat belt, (kick) start the engine, hit the road, and get going!
Manali to Leh:
Manali-Leh is among the most celebrated road trips in India. Get ready for the trip of a lifetime! The route from Manali to Leh is all things dramatic — it bewitches you with beautifully changing landscapes, tests you with treacherously winding roads and high altitude passes, soothes you with the cool mountain breeze and slightly suffocates you at some high-altitude points! In the end, you’ll surely be pleased and proud of taking this road trip!
Note: Take due care to beat the Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS)
Length of the road trip: 479 km
Best time to go: June to mid-September
Visakhapatnam to Araku Valley:
A road trip from the charming coastal city of Vizag to the picture-postcard Araku valley takes you past the forested hillsides, quaint tribal villages, green pastures, gentle streams, and coffee plantations! With greenery everywhere, Visakhapatnam to Araku Valley is one of the most picturesque road trips in India. The verdant mountains overcast with misty clouds on either side of the curvy roads keep you company throughout your journey! Don’t fail to stop by the Borra caves, Galikondalu viewpoint, Chaparai waterfalls, and Tatipudi Reservoir near Araku.
Length of the road trip: 114 km
Best time to go: October to March
Guwahati to Tawang:
This extremely popular road trip in India is recommended for every adventure enthusiast seeking the thrill of the road. Also, you’ll get to witness the rich natural and cultural heritage of Northeast India. Get behind the wheel and drive through the dense forests, gorgeous Eastern Himalayan ranges, and snow-covered passes. Maneuver your way along a series of hairpin turns uphill as you approach Tawang. Appreciate the views of gushing rivers, waterfalls, monasteries, frozen Se La Lake, etc. en route! Dirang and Tezpur are perfect stopovers to unwind during this long road trip.
Note: Inner Line Permit (ILP) is required to enter Arunachal Pradesh.
Length of the road trip: 510 km
Best time to go: March to May; September to Mid-December
Gangtok to Nathu La Pass via Lake Tsomgo:
At an altitude of 14,140 feet, Nathu La is a mountain pass in the Himalayas, near the Indo-China border. The road trip from Gangtok to Nathu La Pass is definitely not easy, but also not the one to be missed. The steep roads full of twists and turns surprise you with the striking change in terrain (from forested environs to rocky terrain to carpet of white snow). Tsomgo lake, a glacial lake surrounded by snow-clad peaks, and the stunning Mandakini Waterfalls are must-visit places along the way.
Note: Only Indian nationals can visit Nathu La Pass upon acquiring the permit from government-authorized tour operators in Sikkim.
Length of the road trip: 53 km
Best time to go: April to mid-June; October to November
Ahmedabad to Kutch:
The ride from Ahmedabad to the white salt stretch of the Rann of Kutch is a surreal experience, to say the least! This popular road trip in India introduces you to the ecological diversity of the country as well as the vibrant culture and impressive handicraft tradition of Kutch’s villages. As you whizz along an endless expanse of the sparkling white salt desert, you’ll feel as though you have entered a different world. Lucky are the ones beholding the enchanting beauty of the white desert soaked in the magical hues of sunset/rise or the moonlight!
Length of the road trip: 410 km
Best time to go: October to March
Mumbai to Goa
Goa remains one of the most preferred places to go on a road trip from Mumbai with friends, all thanks to the 2001 Bollywood flick ‘Dil Chahta Hai’, which left everyone who watched it dreaming about a carefree vacation with closest buddies. There is more than one way to do the Mumbai-Goa road trip; you can opt for a smooth drive along the Pune-Kolhapur route or take the adventurous Chiplun-Ratnagiri route for the thrill of chasing the tricky roads and maneuvering through the narrow curves. Whichever route you take, gorgeous views of the Western Ghats will leave you mesmerized.
Length of the road trip: 590 km
Best time to go: December to February
How to plan a road trip in India?
Here’s an easy way to plan your road trip in India:
- Choose your route.
- Get information about road conditions and tolls.
- Decide on your road trip itinerary, i.e., which places you would like to visit en route, etc.
- Take breaks every few hours
- Book accommodation in advance if you are planning a long trip.
- Research if there are any safety concerns along the route.
- Get all necessary permits.
How to prepare for a road trip in India?
- Get your vehicle serviced right before the trip.
- Check if the weather conditions are suitable for a road trip.
- Carry spare parts of vehicles along with a first aid kit and vehicle repair kit.
- Keep the vehicle roadside assistance number handy.
- Assemble all the legal documents of your vehicle.
- Download offline maps and route information.
- Get a good night’s sleep before your road trip.
- Pack all essentials such as umbrellas/sweaters, extra pairs of clothes, mosquito repellant, sanitizers, tissues, medicines, etc.
- Carry enough water and snacks.
- Keep your duplicate vehicle key with you.
Is a road trip in India safe?
Yes, a road trip in India is considerably safe when you take all the necessary precautions.
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