Looking to plan a long drive for the summer? Strap in and head down these eight stunning forest roads across the length and breath of India for a travel experience you won’t forget.
Road trips are a common answer to the many woes of city life — the unbearable heat, the concrete jungles, the sea of people, and the noises of busy roads. And as the summer arrives in all its glory, now is the time to hop into your car and escape down the winding roads near your cities to majestic destinations, heavenly views, and respite from the city life.
We picked eight of India’s most scenic and stunning forest roads, with views you won’t be able to turn away from during your long drives. Take your pick!
1. Visakhapatnam to Araku Valley
Araku is a heavenly destination located around 100 km from Vizag, and makes for an ideal weekend trip. While passengers can also opt for several rail coaches, we highly recommend a road trip to immerse yourself in the nature around.
If you start early enough, enjoy the breathtaking sunrise against the hills of the Eastern Ghat and a hearty South Indian breakfast on the way. And how will you know when you’re nearing your destination? When the decadent aroma of coffee from the numerous plantations of Araku wafts in to greet you!
At Araku, don’t miss out on the Tribal Museum, which showcases handicrafts by indigenous tribes of Andhra Pradesh.
2. Shillong to Cherrapunjee
Hailed as the ‘Scotland of Modern India’, Shillong has never failed to capture people’s hearts with its perfect weather, delicious food like momos and tungrymbai (a fermented dish made by frying soybeans in mustard oil, onion-ginger-garlic paste, black sesame seed paste, aromatics and pork) and, of course, its roads. Meanwhile, Cherrapunjee, regarded as one of the wettest places on Earth, is a haven for many adventure sports — boating, kayaking, canoeing, and ziplining, to name a few.
While the two regions have little in common when it comes to weather, what they do share are majestic sceneries. A drive from Shillong to Cherrapunjee lets you get a glimpse of Ward’s Lake, a horseshoe-shaped artificial pool, Shillong Peak, the Wah Kaba Waterfalls, and the Dainthlen Falls.
3. Bengaluru to Ooty
If you tend to get nauseous on winding roads, this road trip may not be for you. With its 36 hairpin bends, this trip can certainly be a rollercoaster, but the views might make up for it. The transition from Bengaluru’s Victorian architecture and palatial views to the serene greenery of Ooty — Queen of the Hills — is a drive for the books.
More fascinating aspects of this trip is that Ooty provides views of both the Western and Eastern ghats, as well as breathtaking views of the Nilgiris.
4. Chandigarh to Kasol
One Quora user summarises his experience of taking the trip to Kasol in one line — “ghar nahi jaunga mein ab (Now I won’t go home).”
That’s exactly the feeling this road trip invokes, he says in his post. Driving past Chandigarh’s vast fields to Kasol’s hills, not only are you in for a movie-like road trip, but also a day of adventure and thrill — Kasol is known for its stunning treks and delicious Israeli food.
In fact, a favourite for many North Indians around Delhi and Chandigarh is to drive to Kasol and rest at a stream near the rope bridge in Chalal village. It’s a quiet spot and you’ll almost always find solace here.
5. Delhi to Parwanoo
Parwanoo is a hill station in Himachal Pradesh, and a six-hour enchanting drive from Delhi. Ask any Delhiite what’s so special about this place that they keep frequenting it any chance they get, and they’ll tell you about the orchards that transport you to a different world altogether.
The place is also home to Himachal’s biggest wholesale market, in case you have plans to stop and buy your grocery stock. If not, Parwanoo offers a scenic view of hills and vales that seem almost out of a postcard.
6. Delhi to Morni Hills
A five-hour drive from Delhi, Morni Hills is the only hill station in Haryana.
Besides the drive, there’s many other wonders to explore here, like the Thakur Dwar temple, close to which carvings dating back to the 7th century have been found.
Birdwatchers, you’re in for a field day at Morni Hills, which attract birds of several species — Wallcreepers, Crested Kingfishers, Bar-tailed Treecreepers, Blue Peafowls, Kalij Pheasants, Red Junglefowls, or even the Grey Francolin.
7. Mumbai-Pune Expressway
Certainly among India’s busiest roads, the Mumbai-Pune Expressway is a relief for Mumbaikars who can travel from Kalamboli to Kiwale in Pune in just two hours. But what’s also so alluring about this road is the picturesque drive, and the highways, tunnels and passes, which cut through the glorious Sahyadri mountain ranges.
The six-lane concrete road also has multiple dhabas (roadside food outlets) and tapris (shacks that serve tea) along the way, so you can stop for a wholesome tea break while soaking in the views.
8. Old Silk Route
The route is known to have fostered trade between Lhasa in Tibet and India, and winds through the Jelep La Pass in Sikkim. However, while there are other modern routes for trade today, the Old Silk Route remains one of the most scenic in the country, as it offers views of the majestic mountain ranges of the North.
In fact, Nathang Valley, one of the spots you’ll pass by on your drive, is a hub of waterfalls. Stop by and click some stunning pictures!