There is no better way to experience the colorful local lifestyle, spectacular vistas and weathered cliffs that dote India’s varied landscape than driving or riding there yourself. Roadtripping across the country allows us to experience first hand the best that this beautiful country has to offer. Yes, you have to get onto the real – off-the-beaten-path destinations that gives you goosebumps on every turn and have you exclaiming in excitement, “Wow, I can’t believe this place actually exists!”, this is the definitive way of discovering the real India.
From lonely and secluded Himalayan roads to peaceful and tranquil coastal roads, picking which routes you want to explore might be tough because there are so many good ones, which is why this article will make sure that you are headed in the right direction.
MANALI TO LEH (aka to Heaven on Earth)
The route: Manali – Rohtang Pass – Tandi – Keylong – Jispa – Zing Zing Bar – Baralacha La – Sarchu – Ghata loops – Pang – More Plains – Tanglang La – Upshi – Karu – Leh Ladakh
Leh-Ladak is also known as the land of high passes, is at the extreme northern end of India. It consists of three dominant mountain ranges which are Zanskar, Ladakh & the Stok ranges which marks the boundary between the western Himalayas & the vast Tibetan plateau. The easiest way to get here is by taking a direct flight to Leh from Delhi over the massive Himalayan range. But if want to take in the lung full of fresh air which will recharge your soul, then hit the road as this leads to a whole new unseen world.
The colorful monasteries, steep curves, majestic snow-topped peaks, double humped camels, the blazing sun, freezing winds and a destination that comes straight out of the world of fantasies - roadtripping to Ladakh is on every adventurers to do list. Every year, tons of travelers earnestly wait for the Rohtang pass to open up its jaws so that this epic roadtrip can begin, a roadtrip that takes you through the steep curves, riverside camps and beautiful routes that leaves you spell bound by its beauty.
Once you get to Leh, relax and let your body acclimatize to this sudden change of altitude. Head through the highest motorable roads of the world, chat up with the military men en route, visit the White sand dunes and double humped camels of Nubra and definitely drive to the color changing beautiful Pangong Tso. Also, during your stay in Ladakh, visit the monasteries of Thiksey, Hemis, Alchi, Diskit, Lamayuru, Shanti Stupa, etc. These places of spirituality are a must visit for the amount of peace and tranquility they offer.
THE GOLDEN TRIANGLE
The route: Delhi- Jaipur- Agra – Delhi
The Golden Triangle is one of India's most well known roadtripping circuits. Delhi, Agra and Jaipur form this circuit and are located roughly at an equal distance of around 200-250 kilometers from each other.
This road trip is perfect if you just have a short time to wander but want to visit some really famous places in Northern India. Starting from the nation’s capital Delhi, with its lively streets, beautiful monuments and colonial past, you can head to Agra to see the Agra Fort and the magnificent Taj Mahal, described by Rabindranath Tagore as a 'teardrop on the face of eternity'. From there you have to continue on to Jaipur aka the Pink City, the capital of Rajasthan and explore all the amazing forts there.
- Red Fort, Raj Ghat, Humayun's Tomb and Qutab Minar in Delhi
- Sunrise at the Taj Mahal
- Red Fort in Agra
- Splendor of the deserted city of Fatehpur Sikri
- Amber Fort, Hawa Mahal, Jantar Mantar and City Palace in Jaipur
THE MIGHTY KANCHENJUNGA
The route: Gangtok - Darjeeling – Kanchenjunga
Sikkim is said to possess an air of magic and mythology quite unlike any other place in India. It also plays host to the great pretender aka Kanchenjunga, the third-highest mountain in the world and Sikkim’s most sacred landmark.
Famed to be a magical mountain mainly due its disappearing act as clouds can hide this snow-capped (8,586m) peak for weeks at a time, this temperamental monolith has outwitted travelers for centuries. “If only we could see the range—just a glimpse—everything would be perfect,” says Indranath Chowdhury, one of the frustrated tourists in Satyajit Ray’s film, Kanchanjangha.
To catch a glimpse of Kanchenjunga, travelers need to start their journey either from the Sikkimese capital, Gangtok or from the famous hill station Darjeeling. Distance between Darjeeling and Kanchenjunga is about 73 kilometers and can take about 2 hours to get there.
The Darjeeling War Memorial is one of the most frequented places from where Kangchenjunga can be viewed. On a clear day it presents an image not so much of a mountain but of a white wall hanging from the sky. The people of Sikkim revere Kangchenjunga as a sacred mountain and permission to climb the mountain from the Indian side is rarely given to anyone.
The other places that you can visit while you are there are the trekking routes of Goecha La Pass which is located right in front of the huge southeast face of Kangchenjunga and the trekking routes of Green Lake Basin which is along the famous Zemu Glacier.
By - Ryan Rozario
Ryan is a writer & photographer who loves his bikes and has traveled to the all corners of the country on his beloved bike! You can follow him on twitter here: RRozario
Images credit - Images 1, 2 and 3 - Ryan Rozario | Image 4 - johncuthbert43 on flickr