We skim through the annals of our massive country and bring to you the twenty five best road trips in India that you should take at least once in your lifetime.
Is Ready, Set, Go your mantra for most weekends? Have you found a motorbike and the countryside to be your calling? Then this is your poison’d chalice!
The beauty of road trip from Manali to Leh cannot be captured in words. Remember Kareena Kapoor dancing to “Yeh Ishq Hai” from Jab We Met? Wouldn’t it be fun to cruise along that road in all its snowy glory on an open jeep or a Bullet? Ah! So Pretty!
Road Trip Condition: It spans a length of 479 km with a mean altitude in between 3 to 4 km above sea level. The road is open for about 5 months a year mostly during summers and mid-October. The journey takes about 2 days with one stopover for rest and acclimatization.
An easy weekend getaway from Pune/Mumbai, a road trip to Lonavala is something that almost all local residents will swear by. Dont forget to savor ‘chikki’ in Lonavala. The picturesque surroundings and lush green foliage are great at calming those jittery nerves. So if you are in the region and planning to take a road trip look no further. Put the medal on the pedal, and get cracking!
Road Trip Condition: The expressway is 93 km long and considered one of the best road trips in India. Two-wheelers are allowed on old Mumbai-Pune Highway (which is in really good shape) while cabs and buses ply on the Mumbai-Pune expressway. Sunny Da Dhaba and The Kinara Village Dhaba are good eating options on the Pune-Lonavala stretch.
3. Visakhapatnam to Araku Valley:
The graceful marriage of the Bay of Bengal and the Eastern Ghats in Visakhapatnam are a sight to behold. Any first time visitor to the city is taken away by the pristine beauty of this union in the city. When the same traveller takes a trip to Araku, he’s completely mystified by the beauty of the road. The curly roads, the gentle elevation and the sweet serenity of the hills makes it an amazing road trip in south India and will etch a permanent place in your heart for an eternity.
Road Trip Condition: The road spans about 116 km. There are interesting places like Borra caves and Tatipudi Reservoir on the way. The best time to visit the region is between October and March.
Clichés, when it comes to choosing a travel destination, should never be steered clear of! The Shimla-Manali road trip, with the River Beas trudging alongside, is a beautiful road trip to relax and unwind in India. Take a break from and play in the ice-cold water of the river. Nothing says Himachal vacation like playing in the water during the ride between Shimla and Manali!
Road Trip Condition: This 250 km stretch requires a little longer than usual due to hilly terrain. All the more reason to be one of the best road trips in India.
5. Chennai to Pondicherry along the East Coast Road:
This is one of the most beautiful roads for travelling on a cruiser motorbike. Chetan Bhagat wrote about it, and rightfully so. The Sea on one side of the road is a sight to behold as the day grows. The changing reflections of the Sun on the water as the day advances makes it most beautiful road around Chennai and probably India will leave you feeling thoroughly satisfied. Be prepared for a lot of Photography sessions while on the road!
Road Trip Condition: This stretch of 160 km takes about 3 hours. This route passes through Mahabalipuram (UNESCO World Heritage Site), Kalpakkam (nuclear facility), Idaikkazhinadu (Alamparai Fort aka Alambara Fort), Mudaliarkuppam (with a cool boat house and water sport facility), Marakkanam (famous for large salt pans) etc.
Two absolute essentials from Northeast and a trip just like its two ends- challenging, yet spread across an extremely beautiful terrain. A few stops in between, and you should be able to pull it off more conveniently.
Road Trip Information : The distance is about 520 km and should take you about 10 hours plus your stops.
While scenic roads in Orissa would very well put most of the Eastern states of India to shame, the Puri-Konark highway is one of those beautiful roads to do Photography that when undertaken, will force you to drain the battery on your camera. The canopy formed by the trees on either side of the road, the soft misty breeze and the obvious idyllic beauty will leave you mesmerized, now and forever!
Road Trip Condition: This short stretch of 36 km can be covered in about an hour and makes for a memorable road trip.
8. Gangtok to Lake Tsomgo and Nathu-La Pass:
The North-East, largely unexplored is home to some of the best destinations for road travel in India. This is one of those road trips of North-East that you should undertake at once without thinking much. The hilly terrain might make it a challenging ride, but the beauty of the road lies in the uncertainty of the terrain. The awesome sight along the roads on mountain ranges will totally make up for everything else! Take a road trip in winters to Lake Tsomgo (also known as Changu Lake) from Gangtok and know happiness like never before!
Road Trip Guide: This stretch is about 55 km long, with the Lake Tsomgo falling on the route at around 39 km from Gangtok. It leaves you with an unmatched road trip experience
One cannot put forward a list of awesome road trips without accounting for one that is taken along a forest. The Bandipur Forest route to Bangalore is one of the most beautiful trips through forests in India, that you’ll ever take. One can take the same road to Ooty from Mysore passing though Bandipur National Park. Have a road trip with friends in a car with a sunroof, singing all the way. You might spot deer nonchalantly crossing the road. There’s no better manner of paying your respects to this charming highway!
Road Trip Guide: Taking around 5 hours, this stretch is 235 km long. There are various places for stopover and eating options along the route including McDonalds and Cafe Coffee Day.
A more recommended route to Shimla than the Mandi one above, this is the road trip you should take instead if you are looking forward to the road trip being the highlight of your trip. Cover Kalpa, Sangla valley and even higher bits of the valley like Nako, Chango, Ropa if you wish
Road trip Guide : The stretch is longish and you can cover it in 3-4 days time (unlike shown in Google Maps). You can stopover at Rampur as the first stop. Shimla to Rampur is around 130 km and the roads are decent till this point. Rampur to Nako is around 180km and it almost takes an entire day to cover this part. The road is very bad, but equally scenic. Nako to Kaza is another 110 km and it is really beautiful as it is completely in Spiti region, but the roads are still bad. The stretch from Nako to Kaza could take more than half a day and you can stopover at Kaza. The last part of the trip is from Kaza to Manali via Kunzum La and Rohtang La and this stretch is better than the previous two parts, but still quite bad. This will also take an entire day easily.
11. Pamban Bridge (Rameshwaram):
Ever pictured driving on a road with vast expanses of water everywhere you look? Precisely why Pamban made it to our list! Sometimes, the infinite ocean under your feet and the moist breeze in your hair is all the therapy you need. Makes for a memorable road trip.
Road Trip Guide: The stretch is 13.5 km long and can be easily covered in about 20 minutes.
If you’ve got a weekend and Chennai’s weather just doesn’t cut it, Munnar is your escape. Even better, is that it can come with a though longish but refreshing road trip that might just be what you need to kick start your stay at Munnar.
Road Trip Information : The 600 km between you and your holiday would take about 10 hours plus the stops you make.
The Yamuna expressway is probably the best road in the country at present, and an absolute must-do for all road trip enthusiasts in Delhi. If you have enough driving stamina, you can visit the Taj Mahal and Agra Fort and come back to Delhi by late night.
Road Trip Guide and driving directions : You can cover the 165 kms stretch of Yamuna Expressway in less than 2 hours – the road is just amazing. However, getting to Yamuna Expressway from Delhi itself is around 60km, so add another hour to the total journey. Take care of the air pressure in your tires – too much heat driving at a fast speed have caused tires of some vehicles to burst, so remember to maintain a lower than normal air pressure.
Dhabas : Unfortunately, the expressway has no dhabas at the side, so if you want to stop and eat on the drive, you might prefer the old highway (via Palwal), although the driving wouldn’t be as much fun or fast. There are a few eateries on the side of expressway right after each toll. These eateries are good enough to quench your hunger and thirst, but don’t expect delicious dhabas here.
Road Trip Guide: The roads are in top notch condition and a pleasure to drive on! Go along the RJ SH 19 which is the best option as far as routes are concerned. Make a refuel stop at Jodhpur, both for your car and your tummy. However, if you’re looking for authentic Rajasthani cuisine, you may find it anywhere along this route in India.
15. Shillong to Cherrapunjee
For a 53 km stretch, this one has a lot to offer from drizzles, waterfalls, caves, villages and a beautiful view from your window. You will find stops for food along the way.
Road trip information : The trip will take you about 1-2 hours without any traffic or stops. This is a popular stretch, often covered by car only.
This can probably be called the Father of Indian road trips. Drive towards the sun, the sea and the sand on a gorgeous road that will inspire and gear you up for the upcoming fun.
Road Trip Guide: The road from Mumbai to Goa along the NH 17 is as smooth as creamed butter and utilizes about 10 hours of travel time. Leave Mumbai early in the morning and reach Goa before the parties begin! There are several food joints along the drive to keep your heart and stomach full.
Watch the Aravallis bounce off as you drive along one of the most well-maintained highways of India into one of the most colourful cultures of our land.
Road Trip Information: The roads were in excellent condition until the last few years, but it has deteriorated in the recent past and the course is marked by many restaurants along the way. Take a pit stop at any one of them, refuel and move!
Is the metropolitan life sucking the life force out of you? Do you want some peace and quiet, if even for a day? Perhaps, my dear Mumbaikars, its time to seek that solace in Mount Abu. Unwind!
Road Trip Information: Take the NH 8 from Mumbai to Mount Abu via Vadodara and Ahmedabad. Its stretches on for 745 kilometers and requires 12 hours to cover. If you’re in for a longer holiday, explore the two towns for their authentic culture and Gandhian history respectively. The road is kissed all over with plenty of dhabas, so eat away!
Kolkata to Digha- Bellisimo! Any Kolkatan will swear by this road journey, Most of them have taken it atleast 4 times during their lifetime. There’s reason to, too! The road is basic and pleasing, great for revving up your vehicles, lined with green patches all throughout. Digha is a favorite weekend trip option for many East Indians for its short and sweet appeal. Walk along the beach or ride a pony in the shallow waters, two days here will take your mind off things and let you relax.
Road Trip Information: This route in India is dotted with plenty of Dhabas, so eating along the route isn’t a problem. The road stretches for 180 kilometres and travel time is almost 3 hours. Enjoy the delightful drive, clicking snaps all the way!
20. Jaipur to Ranthambore
Take State Highway 24 to check off 3 essentials of your list – Jaipur, Ranthambore and the beautiful stretch in between. There is also a certain Bassi Wildlife sanctuary in between you can make a stop at.
Road Trip Guide : The distance is about 145 km and should take you about 3 hours of an afternoon well spent.
The road from Bangalore to Ooty, nestled in the lap of the Nilgiri hills, is one of those journeys every road fanatic should undertake once in his lifetime. The roads are the perfect combination of green leafy and asphalt, and the drive is a great idea to soothe your jittery nerves!
Road Trip Guide: The road stretches for 266 kilometres along the SH 17, which is in great condition and dotted with plenty of eateries on the route. For a sumptuous dining experience, try Kamath’s near Channapatna. However, if you’re one who doesn’t like too many surprises for your belly, you can find a McDonald’s and Cafe Coffee Day along the way. Stop over at Mysore and enjoy the history of the ancient city before gearing to sit in the lap of the nature.
Somewhere in my heart, behind all the vertigo and nausea, there is a train of thoughts that feel that nothing beats the beauty of a road trip on the hills. The great expanse of the Himalayas and the soft cottony clouds blend in the most endearing route and the chilly winds in your hair make for the most sublime of experiences. A bike ride may be even better, sometimes.
Road Trip Information: Take the Grand Trunk Road from Delhi and trudge along 358 kilometers for a long weekend away from the cacophony of the city. The journey takes about 6 hours and 40 minutes. Eating on the drive is not a problem on this route. Give your stomach a treat at Sukhdev ka Dhaba at Murthal for their sumptuous paranthas!
Ask students and IT professionals in this part of India about their mantra of chilling in the weekend, and they will swear by the bike road trip between Bangalore and Goa. The road is alluring, calm and serene, with several Punjabi dhabas lining the course serving delicious food. Food for your stomach and for your soul, isn’t it?
Road Trip Information: The road stretches for 566 kilometres, and is in good condition. Many would say that a car is the better option to hit the road between Bangalore and Goa, but you can trust your preferences while deciding. Rent-a-cab facilities are available from Bangalore ranging from Rs. 9 to Rs. 48, in addition to toll taxes. Pack a pair of flip flops, dribble sunscreen all over and have fun!
The drive between Kolkata and Puri is full of surprises. The green drive and the pretty roads will leave you awed, while the idyllic beauty of both the journey and the destination will calm your soul.
Road Trip Gist: The best way is to go to Kharagpur and march along to Balasore from there, followed by Pipli, Cuttack and Bhadrak. The distance is close to 580 kilometers and can be completed in about 10 hours of travel time. Hit the road before dawn from Kolkata and you’ll reach in time for Puri’s lovely beach-side sunset and succulent crab fries from local vendors!
Go away for a short weekend holiday to Kutch and enjoy it thoroughly. Soak up the culture and the white beauty of the Rann, enjoying yourself completely.
Road Trip Gist: The stretch is 400 kilometers long and takes 11 hours to cover. Some parts of the road are a little untamed, so make sure you start very early in the day from Ahmedabad.
India is a country of many facets, attitudes and varying definitions of beauty. The best idea is always to explore as much as you can, yourself. After all, nothing can beat the thrill of being on the road, right?
Got more ideas for us to share? Let us know in comments and we’d be glad to hear
If you were looking for best train routes in India, have a look at Most Scenic Train Journeys in India