The "running" traveler. 5 beautiful journeys in '"running shoes"


The Runner's Dab ft the Arabian Sea

Photo of The "running" traveler. 5 beautiful journeys in '"running shoes" by Ganga Shinghal

Social media is today abuzz with pictures, blogs, schedules, videos and inspirational stories as the fitness bug seems to have caught up with the Indian youth rapidly.

From sweating it out in the gym, to ultra-running, Ironman training, calisthenics, the Indian youth today are torch-bearers in spreading the message of the importance of fitness and healthy eating.

Personally, I have been a long-distance ruuner since the age of 10. Coming from a boarding school in the Himalayas, where running formed an integral part of the day's schedule. This stuck with me as started enjoying the scenic routes and trails that it took me on and since then have run many half-marathons, 10k, 30k and so on.

It was only when the traveling bug caught up with me as I joined college, that I found a way to couple my love for the two and make my travels productive, enjoyable and cost-friendly.

There are probably a thousand such stunning running routes all over India, but I limit myself to a few that I have been fortunate to run.

Happy reading!! Happy running!!

Of boulders, lost tales and rocky ruins

Hampi is the backpacker's paradise, with its unique architectural style, the relics and tales of yesteryear's that each boulder resonates with and the scenic beauty of running along the Tungabhadra.

Most backpackers prefer walking or renting mopeds or cycles to tour the vast landscape. But if you want to take in the breathtaking landscape at a faster pace than walking, why not set out on a run from Vitthala to Virupaksha temple and if possible, try the ultimate test of running up the Anjaneya and Matang Parvat.

A morning run with the Virupaksha temple in the background

Photo of Hampi, Karnataka, India by Ganga Shinghal

The Beas Kund Trail to Bakarthatch

Beas Kund, a picture-perfect holy lake set amidst the snow-capped Dhauladhar ranges is a relatively challenging trek with trekkers being entrusted with the task of traversing the huge boulders, climbing a few vertical walls, jumping over stream-lets and overall, maintaining their balance and grip.

The route from Dhundi to Bakarthatch with the scenic Himalayan view

Photo of Solang Valley, Siyal, Manali, Himachal Pradesh, India by Ganga Shinghal

Footsteps on sand - The Beach Run

The Arabian Sea route along the West Coast of India is a highly picturesque route among swaying palm trees, mighty waves crashing the shoreline and pristine backwaters lapping the other side.

A morning run by Manipal Runner's Club at Kodi Bengre Beach

Photo of Udupi, Karnataka, India by Ganga Shinghal

Through deodar forests and rocky trails

As much as it is known for being a popular hill station, summer retreat or a weekend escape, Mussoorie is a runner's paradise and is now an important town on the India running calendar with different running events such as the Mussoorie Urban Trail, Mussoorie Jungle Trail, the Garhwal runs and Winterline Marathon organised at different times in the year.

The forested trails beyond Clouds End in the Benog wildlife sanctuary leading to the Jwalaji temple

Photo of Mussoorie, Uttarakhand, India by Ganga Shinghal

If you go up north from the Mangalorean shores towards Udupi, you come across a vast stretch of interconnected beaches. Starting from the Kodi Bengre or Delta Beach, heading down south to Hoode and finally, the popular Malpe Beach with the sea breeze gently caressing you, pushing you forward. Yes, beach running isn't easy because sand provides minimal friction but it is good on the knees. Tip: Run barefoot. Avoids the circumstance of a sand-filled heavy shoe or getting drenched in the occasional streams of water that make their way to the shore.

This is an ideal way to spend a Sunday and this is how we enjoyed our weekends as college students. Don't miss out on surfing at Kodi Bengre Beach, post completing the distance. Rough distance- 16km (two-way)

A heavenly combination of a sunrise with the view of the backwaters at Kodi Bengre Beach

Photo of The "running" traveler. 5 beautiful journeys in '"running shoes" by Ganga Shinghal

The Manipal Marathon organised annually can give you glimpses of running the scenic coastline dotted with palm trees and the refreshing sea breeze.

The drive from Manali to Solang Valley and further up to the first base camp point of Dhundi is surely unmatchable with the pine trees dotting the landscape, the sun rising over the white serene mountain ranges, the stream gently rolling down pushing through spaces between boulders, the mountain air breezing past leaving behind a comforting solace.

One can infact, run from Solang Valley to Bakarthatch, advisable if you are a familiarized with trail running with have some high altitude experience.

The Solang SkyUltra is organised annually on the rugged rocky terrain up to Bakarthatch and is one of the most challenging ultra-routes in India.

Popular among trekkers and runners alike, the Beas Kund route

Photo of The "running" traveler. 5 beautiful journeys in '"running shoes" by Ganga Shinghal

Just an advice, if you set out running, prefer the winter months and an early morning run since the barren landscape provides minimum shelter in the sweltering hear. You can in fact, try running up the parvat early morning to catch the sunrise.

For those who want to compete, the Go Heritage 5/10/21 km is organised annually and it is something you can try out.

Up the hill - Close to the entrance of the route to the top of Matang Parvat

Photo of The "running" traveler. 5 beautiful journeys in '"running shoes" by Ganga Shinghal

Of tea-estates, Nilgiris and heritage tracks

Ooty and Coonoor form popular hill-stations in southern India, famous for the rolling hills draped in the lush green tea gardens, a treasure of the Nilgiris. Away from the hustle-bustle of the crowded market, run the less traveled routes around Conoor. You could also choose to run alongside the picturesque heritage route that connects the town of Ooty and Coonoor via the toy train. The Nilgiris Ultra is a popular ultra-marathon that even takes you to Kotagiri.

A view of the tea gardens of Ooty while running the "tea route"

Photo of Coonoor, Tamil Nadu, India by Ganga Shinghal

Running along the lush green hillsides and tea plantations of the Nilgiris in Conoor.

Photo of Coonoor, Tamil Nadu, India by Ganga Shinghal

Mussoorie is not only blessed with dense deodar and pine forests but also gives you glimpses of the snow-capped peaks such as Bandarpunch in the backdrop. A morning run around Lal Tibba gives you a glimpse of the sunrise while a post-run chai with the snow-capped peaks overlooking in the backdrop is a perfect treat.

For those who prefer off-roading, there are trails to Pari Tibba or from Clouds End to Bhadraj Temple or up the Benog Wildlife Sanctuary to the Jwalaji temple. The trails offer a mixture of paved path and rocky jungle trail and takes you to an elevation of 7000 feet.

The forested roads near Lal Tibba, Mussoorie.

Photo of The "running" traveler. 5 beautiful journeys in '"running shoes" by Ganga Shinghal

Nonethless, India is a beautiful country offering diverse landscapes, picturesque routes, scenic trails and the running graph has only seen an exponential increase in the part few years. Running events, groups, competitions offer a large community for runners to meet, greet and stay fit. These were 5 of the places that I have been fortunate to run at and have truly been one of the most memorable experiences. There are tonnes more and it would be lovely to hear from fellow-runners/travelers about the routes they have tried.

Let us share and be fit together.

The spread of Covid-19 has halted life around this world, with gyms, social gatherings, fitness centers, offices, schools, malls, libraries, cinema halls shutting down. Since travel and fitness options have been limited, the best way to stay fresh and stress-free in this period of social isolation is to enjoy a run in your neighborhood, around a lake, in a park or whatever suits your bill.

Run miles. Spread Smiles.

Stay safe. Stay fit. Stay happy!!!!!!!

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