Five incredible routes to experience India
A road trip is the best way to explore any destination. The roads you take, the people you meet, the food you try out from a street-side vendor — they all give you an insight into what makes the destination beautiful.
It is not just about sight-seeing, experiencing different cuisines at top-rated restaurants and cafés, or checking in at impressive hotels.
Like they say — it is not always about the destination, but about the journey.
Road trip to Ladakh
Route: Delhi – Manali – Leh – Srinagar – Delhi
In recent years, Ladakh has gained popularity for its landscape and the beautiful Pangong lake.
However, the secret lies in the route. From cityscapes and traffic jams to smooth highways, experience the change as ou drive from Delhi to Manali.
The route is about 3,000 km, and is surely not for the faint-hearted.
The drive from Manali to Leh is considered one of the most spectacular in the world, but it’s a challenging journey and you will need to cross at least four high mountain passes.
After reaching Leh and acclimatising for a day, you must drive to Khardung La, the highest motorable road in the world at 18,380 ft. Continue driving towards Kargil and visit the Kargil War Memorial. Listen to an Indian Army soldier narrate incredible stories on the war and spot Tiger Hill, where the action took place.
From Kargil, continue driving towards Srinagar, and en route, cross Zoji La, the most challenging pass on this route.
Lahaul and Spiti Valley
Route: Delhi – Narkanda – Kinnaur – Tabo – Kaza – Rohtang – Chandigarh – Delhi
This drive is a must for any road trip enthusiast. Apple orchards on either side of the road, lush green valleys, brazen and rugged peaks, and, of course, the snow-capped mountains of the Himalayas, are in view for those who dare to drive on the world’s most treacherous road.
The route from Kinnaur through Lahaul to Spiti Valley also happens to be listed as one of Asia’s best road trip routes.
Reach Hikkim — the highest inhabited village in India, from where you can send post cards to your loved ones; visit Tabo Monastery — the oldest continuously operating monastery in India; and stay in riverside camps at Sangla Valley on this drive.
Route: Delhi – Jaipur – Jodhpur – Jaisalmer – Khimsar – Delhi
You might have heard travellers often talk about Jaipur, Jodhpur and Jaisalmer.
However, take the road rarely taken to Khimsar. The highways are smooth and uncongested.
Jaipur, Jodhpur and Jaisalmer are colourful and vibrant. There is popular folk music, delicious cuisine, and palace tours offer an insight into the life of royal families.
Udaipur is dubbed ‘the most romantic spot in India’, and this could be the reason why many destination weddings take place here. However, when you step back from the chaos that has become Udaipur, there is still some magic left.
Khimsar offers the best opportunity to explore a desert, be it dune bashing or clicking pictures of beautiful mirages. It is best to stay overnight and see the many hues of the dunes.
They look like gold dust in the sunlight and gradually change to sparkling silver in the moonlight.
Route: Guwahati – Shillong – AH1 – Kohima – Kibithu
The Northeastern states of India have recently gained much-deserved popularity among road trippers. The seven States, especially Meghalaya, have now become popular tourist destinations. However, exploring them by yourself in a four-wheeler is a splendid experience.
Guwahati is known as the ‘Gateway to the Seven Sisters’. From Guwahati to Shillong, the capital city of Meghalaya, it is a scenic drive with lush green views. You can experience the beauty of the living root bridge; visit Mawphlang — one of Khasi Hills’ sacred groves, and more, all located around Shillong. You can also drive a few hours more to reach Mawsynram — the place that currently holds the record for being the wettest place in India, or spot the one-horned rhino and 14 other animal species on the endangered list, in Kaziranga National Park.
Hit the Asian Highway 1 (AH1) to reach Kohima — the highway that connects India to Myanmar, and all the way to Thailand. Explore Kohima, a hidden gem and the capital of Nagaland, nestled in the hills… Nagaland is known worldwide for the Hornbill Festival held annually in December, where you can experience the culture of all the Naga tribes.
From here, you can head to Kibithu — the eastern-most motorable point in India. The town is located on the LAC (Line of Actual Control) and the drive to this point is splendid.
Drive along rivers and creeks, lose yourself in the clouds and enjoy the untouched beauty of this hidden corner of India while driving from Tezu to Kibithu.
Rann of Kutch
Route: Ahmedabad – Little Rann – Mandvi – Kala Dungar – White Rann – Gir – Ahmedabad
This road trip will take you through a desert, wetland, salt marshes, barren land, a crystal blue beach, and more. It is one of the best experiential drives, especially if you get a chance to drive on the 7,000 sq-km Little Rann.
The seemingly unending piece of land also happens to be the only place in the world where one can spot the Indian Wild Ass. The Wild Ass Sanctuary covers 4,953 sq km of the total area of 7,000 sq km.
Mandvi has clear beaches and a shipbuilding yard. The heart of the town, near Mochi Bazaar, is lined with beautiful old buildings in pastel shades. The beaches, especially the one near Vijay Vilas Palace, is a glorious stretch that is clean and beautiful.
The drive to Kala Dungar, the highest point in Kutch, is relaxing, and the panoramic view of Kutch from atop this point, popularly known as Black Hill, is sublime.
From Kala Dungar, drive towards Hodka to experience driving on the White Rann. The walk on the White Rann on a full-moon night is an experinece you will never forget. The cherry on the top is the Gir Forest, home to the Asiatic Lion.
The Nalsarovar Lake, which also happens to be a bird sanctuary, is a beautiful place to visit.