Taking a road trip has its charm. Well, granted that travelling by road isn’t as fast and efficient as the airlines. However, unlike that of air travel, the objective of a road trip is to enjoy the journey as well as the destination.
India has plenty of quiet nooks and unexplored places with untouched beauty, which you can visit with family and friends to create memories that last a lifetime. All this, away from the maddening tourist crowd. Here are ten places you must visit.
1. Mumbai to Lonar Lake, Maharashtra:-
A notified National Geo-heritage monument, this saline soda lake is located in Lonar, in the Buldhana district of Maharashtra. Created by a meteor impact during the Pleistocene Epoch, this lake lies in a basalt impact structure and is both saline and alkaline in nature. The district itself was once part of Ashoka’s empire.
Visit this beautiful lake to witness species like blue jays, parakeet hoopoes, herons, chinkara, gazelles and monitor lizards. The roads leading to the lake, especially NH222, and the State Highway, are smooth and offer beautiful views while you drive/ride to your destination. From Mumbai, Lonar is 480.5 kilometers, a comfortable distance through some great roads.
2. Guwahati, Assam, to Ziro, Arunachal Pradesh:-
Ziro is a peace-seeker’s paradise, a quaint old town in Arunachal Pradesh, home to the Apatani tribe, and well-known for its bamboo and pine-tree-covered hills surrounded by picturesque rice fields. Perched at 1,500 m above sea level, this place is ideal during summer.
If you are feeling adventurous, visit during September for the Ziro Music Festival. Reaching Ziro is relatively easy. From Guwahati, take the NH 27 and NH 15, both brilliant roads, if you are travelling from Guwahati. While it is true, that the roads in the region aren’t great, especially during monsoons, but then, you get the experience of driving or riding through clouds to reach Ziro. Nothing good comes easy!
3. Bengaluru to Bandipur, Karnataka:-
This beautiful national park, in Karnataka, is one of the premier tiger reserves in the country. The park spans 847 square kilometers and is home to several species of India’s endangered wildlife. Located just 80 m from Mysore, Bandipur is flanked by the Kabini river in the north, and the Moyar river in the south, with the Nugu river running through the park. If you are departing from Bengaluru, head to Channapatna, on to Mandya then Mysore, and finally to Bandipur.
Since driving through the reserve is disallowed during the night, make sure you plan accordingly. The best time to drive/ride through the reserve would be early morning, from 6 am to 8 am, when animals and birds are active.
4. Guwahati to Kaziranga, Assam:-
This is a short 4.5 hours road trip, covering 225 kilometers. Driving from Guwahati will take you through Sonapur, Khetri, Jagiroad, Nelli, Dharamtul, the Nagaon bypass, Puranigodam, Samaguri, Kaliabor-Tiniali Junction, Bagori, and Kohora. You will be driving on a 4-lane highway throughout, and if you get hungry, you will find plenty of local food joints serving up delicacies like Khar, Laksa, and Tenga. The national park itself hosts 2/3rds of the world’s great one-horned rhinoceroses and is home to the highest density of tigers among protected areas in the world. The park is also home to elephants, wild water buffaloes, and swamp deer.
5. New Delhi to Auli, Uttarakhand:-
Auli happens to be one of the less-explored hill stations in India, standing at a height of 2,500 meters above sea level. The distance you will travel is 487 kilometers. From Delhi, go to Rishikesh. On the way to Rishikesh, you will cross Noida, Ghaziabad, Modinagar, Muzaffarnagar, Roorkee, and Haridwar. From Rishikesh travel to Joshimath.
Now, you must remember not to travel in winter, as Auli sees heavy snowfall during winter, closing all vehicular access. Then, you will have to travel by cable car from Joshimath to Auli. The region is a true paradise, covered in lush green vegetation and the road trip is the best way to experience the natural beauty of this place.
6. New Delhi to Kutch, Gujarat:-
This scenic road trip from New Delhi will take you through Neemrana, Ajmer, Pali, Mount Abu, and Bhuj before you arrive at the Great Rann of Kutch. There is an alternate route from Delhi to Jodhpur, on to Pachpadra, then on to Sanchore and then to Bhuj. Once at Bhuj, look out for the old Bhuj Railway Station, and then take the next turn for the White Desert of the Rann of Kutch. There will be signposts that will welcome you to the Rann and a 70 km passage that will take you to the Dhordho White Desert. This is a long road trip, through three states, Delhi, Rajasthan, and Gujarat, so prepare accordingly and be on your way!
7. Vishakapatnam, Andhra Pradesh to Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala:-
This road trip is not for the easily-tired. 25 hours will see you cover around 1,568 kilometers, along the picturesque South Eastern coast of India. The AH 45 takes you into Tamil Nadu, along the Andhra Pradesh coastline, which is dotted with intricate temple architecture, at Tirupati, Mahabalipuram, Kumbakonam, and Madurai. As you approach Thiruvananthapuram, you are treated to the gorgeous sight of the Ponmudi hills. Close to Thiruvananthapuram is located the picturesque beach towns of Kovalam and Varkala. With its lush greenery, it is little wonder that Thiruvananthapuram is known as the “Evergreen City of India”.
8. Kolkata to Sandakphu, West Bengal:-
This Himalayan abode is picturesque and travelling from Kolkata will treat you to some amazing sights. From Kolkata, drive to New Jalpaiguri, from where you can proceed to Manebhanjan, via Mirik. From Manebhanjan, Sandakphu is just 32 kms, yet it will take around 4.5 hours, thanks to the difficult route.
Once you reach Sandakphu, behold the magnificent views of the snow peaks. From Sandakphu, you can see Mt Everest, Makalu, Kanchenjunga, and Lhotse, as well as other spectacular peaks of Sikkim, Nepal, Tibet, and Bhutan.
9. Udaipur to Kumbalgarh, Rajasthan:-
This can be done in a day. The single-lane highway that connects Udaipur to Kumbhalgarh offers beautiful views of lush vegetation all around. Be ready to be surprised, as even though Kumbalgarh is in Rajasthan, a region famous for its deserts, it has dense vegetation and green forests, as well as beautiful streams of water running through verdant meadows.
Kumbalgarh has a uniquely-built and robust fort, the walls of which are fondly known as the “Great Walls of India”. On this road trip, carry food and water, as there are few outlets to eat along the way. There is even a Kumbalgarh Wildlife Sanctuary, home to species like the Indian Leopard, striped hyena, jungle cat, nilgai, and sambhar.
10. Gwalior to Orchha, Madhya Pradesh:-
This is a highly-exciting road trip which takes you through interesting regions with amazing sights and sounds. From Gwalior, set off for Jhansi, and from there, go on to Khajuraho, the Panna National Park, and then Orchha. The trip will take you through some pretty spectacular roads, like the NH 76, after Chhatarpur, and the NH75, that takes you to the Panna National Park.
Orchha is an ancient 500-year old citadel that has a picturesque setting on the River Betwa. Orchha combines the architectural beauty of an old town, with the charm of a village.
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The above list is not conclusive, and there are other offbeat road trips that you can take, to dodge the urban bustle and have a memorable time with your loved ones.
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)