Road Trips are the best way to explore the unknown with in you and outside. Not only it allows you to customize your itinerary the way you want but also it gives you complete freedom to visit places where no one else goes. India is a big beautiful country and to travel by road on one go you will need to spend a lot of days and of course huge fortune. To keep it less hectic and more fun for a middle class traveler. Let me put 10 road trips on the plate which will help one to know this country from all directions. Even after a lot of cuts and shortenings, these trips are very long road trips but you can always select one segment of one trip and cover remaining other segment in your next trip but you can trust one one thing that it will feed your hunger to travel for quite a long time as you can plan these trips with family friends or your special one and then again repeat it.
1. Leh & Srinagar:
12-18 Days, 2500Km, May - Nov
Delhi – Jammu (1Nt) – Srinagar (3Nt) – Kargil (1Nt) – Ladakh (3Nt) – Manali (2Nt) – Delhi
This route does not need any introduction. Leh is a dream destination for all road lovers. Traveling in between snowy peaks of himalaya on the highest motorable road is an experience in itself. This does exist in bucket list of each and every road trip enthusiast. You can always clip this circuit to Leh-Manali-Leh or Srinagar-Leh-Manali as most of the group bike tours are planned in this region only. Knowledge to keep in hand is outsiders rented vehicles are not allowed to travel with in Leh so plan your expenses and itinerary accordingly.
You can find tonnes of information available on internet for itinerary planning. Group bike tours are also available through tourist agencies which are safer and a good way to mingle with like minded people. A general notion is that this circuit is for adventure enthusiast only but if you are planning it with a family or child it is equally beautiful. However it is advised to have thorough knowledge of AMS and prefer to travel by SUV.
2. East Coast:
10 - 15 Days, 2000 Km, Nov - Feb
Chennai – Mahabalipuram (1Nt) – Pondicherry (2Nt) – Pichavaram -Rameshwaram (2Nt) – Kanyakumari (2Nt) – Munnar (2Nt) – Yelagiri (1Nt) - Chennai
While watching Chennai Express, you must be secretly desiring to experience the journey of Shahrukh and Deepika. Here is your chance to drive on glorious Pamban Bridge over the sea. Road conditions are pretty good and all the en-route destinations are well known for its scenic beauty and traditional culture. Food is scrumptious if you chose to eat at right places.
You will experience unaltered ancient dravid culture as you go south. This trip will start with serene views of east coast road along with one of a kind ancient coastal town of Mahabalipuram and it will conclude at jaw dropping tea states of nilgiri hills in Munnar.
3. West Coast:
10 – 15 Days, 2500 Km, Nov-Feb
Agonda– Karwar - Gokarna(1Nt) – Udupi(1Nt) – Coorg(1Nt) – Wayanad(1Nt) – Alleppey(1Nt) – Kovalam(1Nt) – Kodaikanal(1Nt) - Ooty(2N) – Mysore – Chikmagalur (1Nt) - Agonda
It includes everything a traveler wishes for; Serene beaches of Gokarna and Kovalam, breathtaking ghats at Wayanad, heavenly food at Coorg, backwaters of Alleppey, glorious stories of Mysore and hill towns of Kodaikanal and Ooty.
Goa or Bangalore is a perfect place to start the journey. Monsoon is a good season to experience the best of the northern region of the circuit while southern region is best explored in winters.All and all October to December is the perfect to treasure the spellbinding beauty of the region.
5. Road to Bhutan:
7 - 10 Days, 1000 Km, Oct–Apr
Siliguri – Phuentsholing(1Nt) – Paro(2Nt) - Punakha(1Nt) – Gangtey - Thimphu(1Nt) – Gorumara(1Nt) – Siliguri
Indian passport holders do not need visa to visit Bhutan and it is easily accessible by road too. You can hire car or bike from Siliguri and ride it in Bhutan for a week, only country to rank Gyalyong Gakid Palzom, or Gross National Happiness (GNH), above GDP.
For more enthusiastic traveller, continue forward from Punakha and exit to Guwahati on the other side of the map. Tiger Nest at Paro is one of the most beautiful treks in the world and visited by thousands of travelers.
6. Western Ghats:
7 Day, 1000 Km, Jun - Nov
Mumbai – Lonavala(Della)(1Nt) – Satara - Ratnagiri(1Nt)– Chiplun - Mahabaleshwar(2Nt) – Tamhini – Kolad(Rafting)– Khopoli(Imagica)(1Nt) – Mumbai
It is a list of weekend getaways for Mumbaikars which you can keep in your bucket list for each weekend of Monsoon. For others, you may have to do it in one go. Follow me on one thing, that is to visit western ghats in rainy season strictly and I can guarantee that you will return here every year. Mumbai or Pune is ideal base camp to explore the region. These are the places where journey is more beautiful than destinations.
Visit Imagica and Della Adventures for some fun activities on the way. While exploring these unimaginably beautiful ghats you may find breathtaking small towns. Do not hesitate to spend a night or two in such innate places.
6. Royal Rajasthan:
10–12 Days, 2400 Km, Nov–Feb
Delhi – Jaipur(2Nt) – Pushkar – Ajmer(1Nt) – Jodhpur(2Nt) – Jaisalmer(1Nt) – Mt Abu(1Nt) - Udaipur(2Nt) – Ranthambore(1Nt) – Delhi
Royalty of Rajasthan is not only popular among local tourists, most of the foreign tourists visit India to experience the rich culture of this Rajputana State. Winters are ideal season to enjoy the traditional hospitality.
This circuit can be completed either way, starting from Ranthambore or starting from Jaipur. Udaipur and Jaisalmer are the highlights of the trip, concluding it with a jungle camp and safari is a perfect way to end the long journey.
7. Road to Himalayas:
7 - 10 Days, 1400 Km, Mar – Sep
Delhi – Rishikesh(1Nt) – Dehradun – Mussoorie(2Nt) – Chakrata – Auli(1Nt) – Kinnaur*(2Nt) - Spiti(1Nt) - Kufri – Shimla(2Nt) – Solan – Delhi
This is quite an impractical circuit and it is highly recommended to gather all the information which you can for the Kinnaur to Spiti leg because most of the time roads are closed and even when it is open conditions are not very good. Hill towns along the way are insanely raw and disconnected with outer world.
Tick your bucket list for river rafting and bungee jumping at Rishikesh at the start of the circuit and enjoy the journey along the small towns of sacred Uttarakhand. A shortcut is moving directly from Auli to Kufri.
8. Valley of Flowers:
7 – 10 Days, 1200 Km, May – Sep
Delhi – Lansdowne(1Nt) – Chopta – Valley Of Flowers(2Nt) – Kausani(1Nt) – Almora – Ranikhet(1Nt) – Nainital(1Nt) – Delhi
Valley of Flowers is a lifetime experience in itself. It is a complete package of road trip, trekking and camping in wild. You will need to do medium level trekking to reach to the valley. It remains open for a very short period of year.
While returning spend a day or two along the beautiful naini lake relaxing your legs after a the hard time of trekking.
9. Sikkim – Old Silk Route:
10 – 15 Days, 800 KM, May – Nov
Siliguri – Darjeeling(2Nt) – Pelling(1Nt) – Ravangla - Gangtok(3Nt) – Lachung(2Nt) – Nathula – Zuluk(1Nt) – Kalimpong(1Nt) – Siliguri
My personal favorite is silk route which was used for trading from china to western and middle eastern countries. It is one of the most scenic routes on himalayas with a lot of hairpin bends. Sikkim is a cocktail of north eastern mix with other indian culture.
Restricted Area Permit will be required to travel to Lachung, Nathula and Zuluk (Silk Route) which can be obtained at Gangtok. Keep a day spare in Gangtok for arranging same.
10. North East Road Trip:
10 – 15 Days, 2000 KM, Mar – Oct
Guwahati – Tawang(2N) – Kaziranga(1N) – Majuli(1N) – Kohima(2N) – Haflong(1N) – Dawki – Cherrapunji(1N) – Shillong(2) – Guwahati
To explore all the hidden gems in one go, a road trip of 2000 km passing through all major states of north east india is perfect. It will definitely take a long of time as traveling after sunset is not advisable except near Shillong.
A trip from Guwahati to Tawang is a challenge in itself as weather conditions are extreme and you will find very few resources on the way. This region is volatile so better have a good knowledge of current affairs in the region and do not be too dependent on internet.
All above trips are designed with a proper research and analysis. However each circuit needs a detailed preparation of your own. Road trips always need some advance preparation for your vehicle, family and your own self (driver). You can also plan partial circuits and remaining destinations can be covered in during next trip as life is long and we have to keep traveling no matter what. Some areas of Gujarat, MP, UP, West Bengal & Orissa are not included in any of the trips because it consists of individual tourist spots which are difficult to link with each other but small trips of Araku Valley, Rann of Kutch, Golden Triangle of Agra, Puri and Kolkata and cultural circuit of Kashi, Khajuraho & Sanchi can also be planned with very little amount of research.
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