If you haven’t already, earmark this year for the wind-in-your-hair experiences, meandering on the iconic roads in India. After all, it is the hook of the ‘open road’ that leaves many in a wistful state of mind, hoping that wanderlust could be a full time job.
So circle those calendar dates for the long weekends and spruce up that car or bike for a taste of the tar.
Manali to Leh: considered a rite of passage for bikers who want to fine-tune their ‘throttle-balance-control’ abilities on treacherous roads, this is an essential on the list. Flanked by jaw-droppingly gorgeous views, the Manali-Leh route is decidedly one of the best road journeys in the country. Keep two days for Manali, with a stopover at Sarchu or Jispa and then head to the base, Leh, from where day trips can take you to stunning versatile landscapes.
Suggested pit stops: Manali, Rohtang, Keylong, Jispa, Darcha, Zingzingbar, Baralacha La, Sarchu, Gata Loops, Nakee La, Lachulung La, Pang, Tanglang La, Upshi
Bangalore to Goa: a scenic loop of roads that skirt the coast, swing around rainforests and wend through sunny countryside, this route is rich in landscapes and experiences. You can also detour to Sakleshpur’s coffee plantations and then cut across to the west coast. With ample pit stops on the way, reserve some time for ancient temples, Agumbe’s rainforests and Gokarna’s chilled out vibe.
Suggested pit stops: Sakleshpur, Mangalore, Udupi, Maravanthe, Agumbe, Murudeshwar, Karwar, Gokarna
Rajasthan on a crawl: some may disagree, but we think it is well worth the schlep it takes to get to the far reaches of Rajasthan – away from the expected Jaipur-Jodhpur-Udaipur circuit. If not for the impregnable forts or the promise of glorious legends, let this trip be filled with local wonders and lesser known delights. Instead, veer towards Barmer from Bundi, touching the outskirts of Jodhpur on silken grey highways of the state.
Suggested pit stops: Shahpura, Beawar, Pali, Luni, Jodhpur
Chennai to Munnar: beat the heat this summer, and present yourself the gift of great weather. The drive from Chennai to Munnar will have you cut across the Deccan and down to the heart of everything green. The moss-like carpet of tea bushes when approaching Munnar is a respite after the pale brown shades of Tamil Nadu.
Suggested pit stops: Kanchipuram, Mahabalipuram, Pondicherry, Tiruchirappalli, Periyar
Kolkata to Puri: the relatively unexplored east coast promises a new perspective for road travellers. When out of the heady chaos of the city, gradually find yourself getting lost in idyllic views. The perfect route to soothe the soul, catch a glimpse of Bengal and Orissa’s calming countryside. Once in Puri, fiery sunrise views should not be missed.
Suggested pit stops: Kharagpur, Balasore, Pipli, Cuttack, Bhadrak