Top 10 Road Trips in India

By Team autoX | on May 16, 2020

We may not be able to give you an immediate cure for the cabin fever you’re undoubtedly feeling, but we can help you plan your next road trip once the lockdown lifts. Here are our top-ten road trips. For the moment, #StayHome & #StaySafe, but start planning your next getaway – it’ll definitely help you #StaySane!

Road Trip Warriors

Nahan Sports Car Road Trip

What do you need for a road trip to remember? Well, a great road of course. And this quartet doesn’t hurt either!

What do you get when you pair a quartet of proper sports cars with a quartet of four excited drivers on a twisty, winding, mountain road? Well, you get an opportunity to experience an unforgettable road trip.

Now, we all have our preferences when it comes to road sections in the Himalayas, for there are so many beautiful stretches. Our favourite stretch is between the sleepy, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it town of Kumarhatti and the much larger town of Nahan – it’s a stretch of approximately 75 kilometres. What makes this road between these two nondescript towns so special, you ask? Well, first is the fact that there is virtually no traffic on this route, and the tarmac condition here is simply immaculate. Pair this with a winding, undulating road, full of sharp turns and beautiful views, and it almost starts to sound like a dream. Also, the fact that you’re mostly alone – not only on the road, but also in the region itself – and it makes it as close to driving heaven as you can imagine.

On this particular trip, while the Nissan GT-R was in a class of its own with its sharp steering, incredible engine, and all-wheel drive – something that you virtually take for granted – it was the Audi RS7 that really knocked our socks off, with its insane power, supreme comfort, and roaring soundtrack.

A road trip to remember indeed!

Check out the full road trip here - Nissan GT-R vs Audi RS7 vs Mercedes-AMG SLC 43 vs Porsche Macan R4

Gateway to Heaven

Spiti Road Trip

A road-trip to anywhere in the Himalayas is a dream that every Indian traveller dreams about. That’s precisely why Spiti should be on the list of your post lockdown travels. 

While there are a lot of places to drive or ride to in the Himalayas, Spiti Valley in Himachal Pradesh is one of our favourites – you will, at the very least, find one of our team members visiting the Spiti Valley once or twice every year. Well, the reason is simple. No matter how many times you’ve been there, every drive to these cold barren highlands will always leave you gobsmacked and awe-struck. A road trip to Spiti Valley is like going back to an evergreen song. Let’s just say that it’s the ‘Hotel California’ of road-trips in our country – it never gets dull or boring!

That said, a road trip to Spiti isn’t a cakewalk, and it certainly isn’t meant for everybody. Roads in this region are amongst the most treacherous roads in the world! However, with a little bit of planning and some precaution, a trip to the gateway of Spiti valley (Tabo / Nako) in a regular hatchback or on a motorcycle is quite possible.

From Delhi, it’ll be a 1,500km round trip. And we suggest that you take at least a week to complete this journey so that you can properly explore places like Reckong Peo, Nako and Tabo. The altitude goes up to 12,000ft, and road conditions can change from racetrack smooth to narrow and rocky in the blink of an eye. Whether you’re a first-timer or a seasoned traveller, you should, well, take it easy!

And if you’re looking for a more adventurous trip, you can always go deeper into the valley and beyond Tabo to places like Kaza and Komik. You can go even further and return via Manali, covering Kunzum Pass and Rohtang Pass on the way. However, for these roads, a 4x4 SUV or an adventure motorcycle would be the ideal choice. To know more about that, just turn the page.

Check out the full road trip here - Driving across Spiti Valley in a Nissan Kicks

Dream

Sptit Motorcycle Road Trip

Three dream vehicles on a dream road trip – it really was a ‘dream’ come true!

Every year, we celebrate our anniversary issue by looking for awesome stories full of adventure and excitement. For our 11th anniversary issue, we went on one of the most epic road trips that one can dream of on three of the dreamiest adventure vehicles.

Our plan was to embark on an epic journey, with the most special machines available on the planet. We got our hands on the Triumph Tiger Explorer and the Honda CRF1000L Africa Twin. For backup, we had the 2018 Land Rover Discovery. Would you call that a ‘dream team’ of hardcore adventure vehicles? Well, I would.

Now, after deciding on the vehicles, it was time to figure out the destination. After much discussion, we finally decided that the best place to take these machines would be Spiti. Lahaul and Spiti is a desolate district, which is now widely considered to be the best destination for road trips in the Himalayas. It’s a challenge for anybody to drive or ride to this part of the country. But we knew that, with these machines, we would have no trouble at all.

We planned out the route and the entire trip in detail, because we only had a few days to reach Kaza and get back to Delhi to wrap up the story in office. Road conditions here are always changing – in one season they could be perfectly smooth, and, in the next, completely broken down. So, really, if you have any sense of adventure, you could say that the best part of going to Spiti is the uncertainty.

All three vehicles performed like true champs and took on the mountain roads with ease. The Land Rover Discovery was loaded to the brim with equipment, and it still gobbled up everything that came in its way. The road to Shimla was chaotic as always, but once we started towards Narkanda the going got much better. From Rampur to Tabo, the scenery was magnificent, unlike anything else you’ve ever seen.

We were fortunate to reach Spiti Valley in just 2 days. Which means that we managed to spend one day in the valley before driving back. We decided to return via the Rohtang pass to Manali. The roads between Spiti and Rohtang pass are some of the most difficult and dangerous to drive and ride on, not just in India but also in the world. However, the machines made it a cakewalk. So, if you own a dream machine like any of these, then Spiti Valley is one destination for a road trip that you must consider after the lockdown ends. 

Full road trip here  - Land Rover Discovery + Triumph Tiger + Honda Africa Twin: Travelogue

Hunt for snow

Chanshal Pass Road Trip

This road trip proved that you don’t need a dedicated 4x4 for a touch of adventure.

The Himalayas attract different people for different reasons. And they all have their preferred ways of getting there. We, however, like to drive, especially if it involves a long road trip. Well, did you expect anything else?

So, this trip, which we did just before the onset of the last winter, was all about hunting for snow. We were hoping to test not only an everyday SUV’s capabilities over different kinds of road conditions, but also our driving skill – for what better way to test your driving skill than by taking a front-wheel-drive SUV through the snowy patches of a mountain pass? Armed with the Hyundai Venue, we left Delhi for our first destination – Spiti Valley. We decided to take the scenic route via Karsog Valley. However, as fate would have it, things didn’t turn the way we’d hoped. Despite going as far up as Nako, we couldn’t find even a hint of snow in Spiti Valley.

Dejected, we turned back and camped at the old trading town of the region – Rampur Bhushahr. The next day was another beginning, full of hope and optimism. We took a route we’d taken a few years ago that leads to the town of Rohru and, then, to a lesser-known mountain pass – Chanshal. Situated at a height of over 12,000 feet, this pass throws up challenges to even the most seasoned driver – the relative lack of traffic means that infrastructure here is minimal at best, which only means that you have to be on the top of your game. Chanshal greeted us with a fair amount of snow on the summit of the pass, lifting our spirits, for we found what we were looking for.

Of course, despite only being front-wheel drive, the fantastic chassis and suspension capabilities of the Venue shone through. The SUV tackled everything that the roads, or the lack thereof, could throw at it with aplomb – proving that you don’t need a dedicated 4x4 for a dose of adventure.

Full travelogue - Driving a Venue from Delhi to Chanshal Pass

The Best Riding Road

Uttarakhan Motorcycle Road Trip

We took three motorcycles of different classes and embarked on a journey in search of the perfect riding road.

One of the biggest problems that bikers face in India is finding a perfect road on which to ride their favourite bikes. A smooth stretch of road that’s easily accessible to enjoy a weekend ride is hard to come by, given that most of our roads are not the best for motorcyclists.

As journalists, we have to travel quite a lot in the Himalayas. So, a couple of years ago, I discovered a stretch of road that I have since claimed to be the best I’ve ever ridden on in the country. Since then, I’ve been riding on this stretch every time I get a chance. Now, I usually don’t like to share the location of this road, but, for this story, I’m ready to spill the beans!

While on a solo trip to my family home in Landour, which is located above Mussoorie, I decided to go on a solo bike trip to Gangotri. To get to Gangotri, I had to ride through Dhanaulti and then head towards Chamba. The road and the views of the Himalayas it offered were breath-taking in every sense of the word. The tarmac was fresh and smooth, and traffic non-existent. This 56-kilometre stretch from Landour to Chamba is every rider’s dream.

So, I decided to go back there with my colleagues, but instead of going to Gangotri, we left Landour to head to Rishikesh. Once we crossed Chamba, the road was simply unbelievable. We crossed empty forests, rivers, and a series of twisty bends, with wide run-off areas. It was a blast to ride. We had a Harley, a Triumph, and a Ducati with us, and still, it didn’t matter which bike we were on because the joy of riding on these sections overpowers and overwhelms every other aspect of riding. 

The stretch from Chamba to Rishikesh is about 65 kilometres, offering a perfect combination of long straights and very wide, smooth flowing twisty bends. Check it out, because, for me, this is certainly one of the best riding roads in India.

Check out the full feature here - Triumph Street Twin + Honda CBR 650F + Harley-Davidson Softail: Road Trip

Desert Alpine

Mount Abu Road Trip

The journey from Udaipur to Mount Abu is a perfect blend of smooth highways and twisty mountain roads – a recipe for an unforgettable journey, with two incredible destinations at either end.

Here’s another road-trip idea to the land of kings, once the COVID-19 lockdown lifts, of course. For there can’t be a better time to put on your driving gloves, slide into the driver’s seat of your car, and hit the wide-open highways of Rajasthan.

We undertook the journey from Udaipur to Mount Abu for our 150th issue celebrations. This 150km road trip begins with arrow-straight roads from Udaipur and goes via NH27 (the second-longest National Highway in India) to the narrow winding roads leading to Mount Abu. The whole trip offers you enough time to enjoy driving on Rajasthan’s flawless tarmac and just the right amount of twisty mountain roads to add a sense of adventure. It’s also worth noting that the route has barely any traffic on it, making it splendid for a road trip.

Mount Abu – the highest point in Rajasthan – is also a great place to visit in summer, owing to its cooler climate compared to the rest of Rajasthan. While there are some great hotels in Mount Abu, be sure to check out Palace Hotel, Bikaner House – a heritage hotel that offers you a proper experience of the regal past of Rajasthan.

Mount Abu is large enough to drive around as well – you can even visit the wildlife sanctuary there. To wrap it up, you must go to the highest point of Guru Shikhar and enjoy some spectacular views from this breezy hill station.

Check out the full travel feature here - Udaipur to Mount Abu in a Honda CR-V

Hidden Paradise

Rajasthan Motorcycle Road Trip

A relaxed road-trip through some hidden, yet exquisite, destinations in Rajasthan is all you need to revel in little joys of travelling again…

Rajasthan! Perhaps it isn’t the best idea to head to the Land of Kings during summer. But, then, we still don’t have a clear idea of when this lockdown will lift – nobody knows when they’ll even be allowed to head to the nearest shopping mall, let alone drive or ride to a different state. So, let’s chalk out a route map for your post-lockdown trip regardless.

Usually, travel advisers will sell you places like Jaipur, Udaipur, Ajmer, and Jaisalmer, if you intend to go to Rajasthan. As great as all of these places are for a road-trip, we think you should head to some of the other hidden gems of Rajasthan – places like Mandawa, Bikaner, Khimser, Sambhar Lake, and Samode.

Starting from Delhi, you can visit all these places and return via Jaipur in about five to seven days, depending on your pace and interests – trust us, you’ll be pleasantly surprised with what’s in store for you! We followed this very route with Ducati India’s Dream Tour of Rajasthan last year.

Not only will you encounter some of the most amazing roads on the way, but also some of the most spectacular surroundings that you can imagine. If you want to indulge in Rajasthan’s royal culture, do check out Gajner Palace (Bikaner), Khimsar Dunes Village, and Samode Palace. Consider yourself lucky if you manage to catch a sunset over the dunes – it’s a breath-taking sight!

That said, even if you don’t manage to get all the royal luxuries of these places, the rest of Rajasthan won’t disappoint you either. Put simply, the beauty of this part of India can’t be overstated. Be it the changing landscape, Rajasthani culture, or the roads around here, you will simply struggle to find a dull moment during this road trip. And for that reason alone, we believe that you should head to these easily accessible and amazing places in Rajasthan to enjoy and appreciate the beauty of travelling once again.

Full travelogue here - Ducati Dream Tour of Rajasthan: Exploring the Land of Kings on a Multistrada

King of The Jungle

Ratapani Reserve Road Trip

Madhya Pradesh may be hard to get to from the big cities, like Delhi or Mumbai, but it’s well worth the effort. It is, after all, the heart of this beautiful country.

For a myriad of reasons, Madhya Pradesh – literally the central province of India – has remained relatively unexplored over the decades. And it’s something that we haven’t been able to understand, given that MP offers a combination of some amazing tourist attractions, full of royal palaces and rich history, exciting wildlife Parks and tiger reserves, and a variety of driving roads that are a delight to experience. Of course, the journey from New Delhi to Bhopal, or other areas deep inside the state, can be a challenge – not because the roads are bad, but because they’re so good.

Given the rather flat topography of the route, roads here are almost America-like straight, which means that in the scorching summer heat that we were driving in, dozing off due to boredom was a real hazard. Perhaps it’s also the reason behind the many crashed trucks that we encountered en route.

But we did find a stretch near Kolar dam that we really enjoyed driving on. A very important dam for the state, Kolar dam supplies drinking water to the city of Bhopal. The area around the dam is mostly empty, which means that the twisty, winding road leading to the dam is a driving paradise. Full of tight corners, sharp dips, steep climbs, and seemingly never-ending radius curves, the stretch is a real challenge even for the keenest driver.

After this road-trip, our advice would wholeheartedly be to explore the very heart of our beautiful country.

Check out the full road trip here - Kitya to Kolar Dam in a Volkswagen Tiguan

Of sand, sun and sea!

Goa Gokarna Road Trip

Experience the serene beaches of Gokarna and Murudeshwar once you regain your freedom.

Having just switched off the television after watching Lord of the Rings for the nth time, I can’t help but reflect upon Samwise Gamgee’s words and just how relevant they are in a time like this. Allow me to quote, ‘How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad has happened. But, in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass.’ The coronavirus pandemic may have confined us to our homes and the future may seem uncertain, but hope remains that it, too, like every other dark episode in human history, shall pass, restoring our lost sense of freedom.

For those living along the west coast, the road to freedom more often than not leads to Goa. But, for someone seeking a new experience, we would strongly recommend going a little further, to Gokarna and Murudeshwar. If you find breath-taking landscapes and untouched beaches alluring, rest assured that Gokarna will not disappoint you. Its unique charm lies in the way religious folk and those with a secular temperament live in perfect harmony. 

Murudeshwar, on the other hand, is nothing like Goa or Gokarna. The sheer scale of the Murudeshwara Temple overpowers pretty much everything in the town. That doesn’t mean that there isn’t much around. You can also spend a quiet evening near the charming watchtower in Bhatkal and enjoy spectacular sunsets.

If you’re starting from Mumbai, you can even do a full loop by driving to Gokarna via Nipani and take the twisty NH66 back home, concluding a road trip that has everything a driving and travel enthusiast seeks. So, when the lockdown lifts and a semblance of normalcy is restored, celebrate your freedom by taking a trip to the sea!

Full road trip here - Goa to Murdeshwar in a Jeep Compass

Coasting Along

Kochi Kanyakumari Road Trip

This beautiful drive along the western coast of India has everything, from beautiful beaches to a touch of history.

Driving on the western coastline of India can be an absolutely delightful experience. It’s not really a route favoured by regular travellers, which means that traffic is rather sparse – expect for urban parts of Kerala. Add to that great views of the several beaches that you encounter en route, and suddenly you realise what they mean when they say, ‘it’s the journey that matters, not the destination.’

We began this trip rather early in the morning, as the first rays of the sun greeted us, from the southern-most point of the Indian peninsula in Kanyakumari, where the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal meet the Indian Ocean. The beautiful view of the fiery sky was punctuated by the statue of Tamil poet Thiruvalluvar and the Vivekanand Rock Memorial – both of which are situated just off the tip of the coastline.

Our next stop was the Mundakkal Beach in Kollam, where a particular spectacle is the dredger ship Hansitha, which was washed ashore a few years ago and has now become a big tourist attraction. After Kollam, as we neared Kochi, traffic became a bit of a problem. Kochi, of course, is a beautiful city known for unique, visually stunning Kerala architecture. Our favourite parts of Kochi including the spice market of Mattancherry and the stunning Fort Kochi area, which are best visited early in the morning for they are free of traffic during the early hours. With the beautiful coastline in the background and heritage properties all around us, the sublime city of Kochi was a fitting end to a lovely drive along the western coast.

Read the complete travelogue here - Kanyakumari to Kochi in a Maruti Suzuki Dzire

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