Pining for the open road? The wind in your hair and the thrill of the journey? Road trips are one of the best ways to explore and enjoy travel. And having been deeply inspired by the evergreen movies of the Indian subcontinent like Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, it is hard not to dust ourselves and embark on the journey of a lifetime with an Indian road trip.
If you’re either planning your own Rikshaw Run, or you simply want to enjoy an Indian road trip with friends, we’ve got you covered.
How to plan an Indian road trip
If you’re going to plan an Indian road trip, you need to first start with your route. And then you need to choose the best vehicle for the journey. If you’ve always wanted to enjoy the open road in India, one of the most fun ways to do a road trip across the subcontinent is with a motorbike such as a Royal Enfield. A classic Indian ride!
Bikes Booking offers the best choice of motorbike rentals across the world, including in India, for your motorbike road trip.
Check rentals on their site (or use our widget here).
Remember that Indian roads are some of the most dangerous in the road so be sure to take out travel insurance that covers you. Especially if you’re not used to riding on Indian roads, you need to be extra cautious and vigilant for driving styles that you might not experience anywhere else in the world.
But with that in mind, which are the best Indian road trip routes for you to follow?
Indian West Coast Road Trip Ideas
1. Mumbai to Goa
The dream route of every Bollywood fan and possibly every Indian, the best time to embark on this 12 hours road trip is between December and January.
During this timeframe, you can either enjoy the scenic beauty that the Pune-Kolhapur Route promises along with its safer and smoother roads, or take the Chiplun-Ratnagiri Route, which is more adventurous, per se.
With lesser tolls and several rocky and unkempt stretches of roads, the Chiplun-Ratnagiri Route is ideal if you (and your friends) are a bit of an adrenaline junkie, but don’t want to put yourselves at immediate risk.
On this route you will experience the beauty of the Western Ghats and while on it, you can also check out the Karnala Bird Sanctuary which houses more than 180 species of resident and migratory birds.
Through the NH4 or the NH66, the estimated length of this trip would be in the ballpark of 570 to 600 kilometres.
2. Mumbai to Pune
Pune, known also as ‘The Oxford of The East’ is no doubt a great destination on its own, but the route towards this great city offers even more unforgettable experiences.
With 87 kilometres of enchanting road that serves as a quick escape for the weekends, the Mumbai-Pune Highway leading to the Mumbai-Pune Expressway (which is also India’s first six-lane expressway) offers dazzling views of the neighbouring greenery and cityscapes. The journey usually clocks at around 3 hours, and it is most advisable to embark on it between the months of March and August for the best experience.
3. Bangalore to Ooty
Famous for its 36 hairpin bends, verdurous hillscapes and serene pathways in the lap of the Nilgiri Hills, the road trip from Bangalore to Ooty is eye candy for every nature lover and is one of the most favourable routes if you want to embark on a motorbike road trip due to its conventional nature.
On this route you will come across the Mudumalai National Park which is a great site to experience the alluring flora of the place, and taking a detour you can also experience the ancient history of Mysore before hitting the road again.
A soothing experience for about 6-7 hours down the SH17 to the renowned hills with chilly winds of Ooty is a journey one should tread to escape into freedom, even if it lasts for just a while.
The East Coast Rides:
1. Chennai to Pondicherry
The Bay of Bengal running parallel with this road renders a sight that’s going to remain in your mental album (and your phone’s one as well, perhaps) for years to come.
The Chennai-Pondicherry highway, more famously known as the East Coast Road not only offers a constant wide canvas of the ocean, but also passes through several tourist attractions such as: Mahabalipuram (UNESCO World Heritage Site), Edaikazhinadu (Alamparai Fort, aka Alamparai Fort), Mudaliarkuppam and Marakkanam among others.
2. Kolkata to Puri
The ride from Kolkata to Puri consists of multiple sceneries to savour along the way, with the final destination of the picturesque Puri and its beaches itself. You would ideally want to start from Kharagpur in Kolkata and go along to Balasore and then to Pipli, Cuttack and Bhadrak.
The roads are lined with greenery and beautiful villages and can be covered in 10 hours of journey, give or take, to reach the beachlines of Puri. All in all, a journey worth making for the adventurous youth as well as for religious devotees going on a pilgrimage to the famous Jagannath Temple.
The Northern Highlands and Plains:
1. Shimla to Manali
Want to get rid of the sultry heat and pollution of the city? Here’s one of the best ways you can do so – hit the Shimla-Manali route and make your way toward the most highly acclaimed destinations of the Northern Highlands.
With River Beas running alongside with elegant hills, this road will give you all you want as an adventurer and promises a soulful experience above all. 5-6 hours of hilly terrain awaits you on this trip through Mandi, but if you have the courage to be a bit more adventurous, the road via Kinnaur and Spiti will take you along to the 4-5 days of one of the prettiest sceneries of India that your eyes will bear witness to.
2. Delhi to Shimla
Get on the Grand Trunk Road from Delhi and ride along a 7 hour journey towards the idyllic hilly roads in the Himalayan ranges of Shimla. Witness astonishing cloud blends and meandering roads and capture snapshots to be remembered forever. Thus, with all the beauty of the North, the Delhi to Shimla road trip down NH1 will surely be a memorable one and is undoubtedly one of the most advisable trips to go on from this list.
Make your preparations accordingly, however, as temperatures in Shimla can drop down to as low as -2.1°C during the winter.
3. Bagdogra to Darjeeling
Darjeeling, aptly known as ‘The Queen of the Hills’ is blessed by Mother Nature with some of the most unique ecology and habitat of graceful flora and fauna. Experience the vast green expanses of tea gardens along the road starting from the small hill-town of Bagdogra, and along the bends and curves feel the awe-inspiring pines, secluded waterfalls and the misty sky.
It usually takes not more than 2 hours and 30 minutes to reach your destination in a car, so if you’re one for a short (and yet) picturesque ride, this one’s for you. Go down NH110 towards the pleasures of Darjeeling with Butawa, Dumplings and the infamous Tiger Hills, into the pavilion of some of the sweetest people in the whole.
4. Manali to Leh
Probably some of the most breathtaking scenery in the world lies between Manali and Leh. Ladakh is surely a dream Indian road trip destination for anyone who truly wants to explore the otherworldly and often under populated lands in the far north.
Follow the NH3 north from Manali for around 480 kms and enjoy stunning mountain passes, deep blue lakes and snow capped peaks. The drive will take you around 7 hours and is best attempted during the summer months up until early October. After this you might find harsh weather and bitter cold makes the journey less pleasant.
Enjoy the open road!
Pack your bags if you haven’t already and enjoy exploring India.
All the routes mentioned above are not only suitable for cars, but even the biker’s wanderlust nature is favoured equally.
Find your dream Indian road trip motorbike at BikesBooking.
Remember to get that travel insurance before you go exploring and stay safe out there!
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