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10 amazing road trips in India to take in 2017

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To truly see India, hit the road. We’ve charted routes that give you a real taste of the country

beach / heritage / family-drive

1. Kutch to Mumbai, via Bhuj, Ahmedabad and Vadodra

Optimum duration: 5-7 days

Make the most of Gujarat’s top quality roads with this itinerary. Start at Bhuj, famous for ruins from the Harappa civilisation, before driving to Ahmedabad, Gujarat’s art and culture hub. Next is Vadodra, home to the Lakshmi Vilas Palace, which is four times the size of Buckingham Palace. Enjoy the coastal vibe as you pass through Bharuch, Surat, and Valsad. Once in Maharashtra, quit the highway to explore coastal towns like Bordi and Dahanu before hitting Mumbai.

nature / family-drive / biker's dream

2. Mumbai to Goa, via Pune

Optimum duration (not counting Goa stay): 1-2 days

Take the expressway to Pune, and carry on down the NH-4 to Kolhapur, deep in the belly of the Western Ghats. At Kolhapur, cut across the stunning mountain road towards Sawantwadi, and enter Goa through Pernem. All of Goa is connected by a coastal road. That’s 130-odd km of beautiful coastline from Mandrem to Polem, with beaches like Morjim, Colva, Palolem offering several distractions. Don’t hurry through Goa; pick and choose your experiences here.

beach / family-drive / biker's dream

3. Goa to Udupi, via Gokarna

Optimum duration: 3-4 days

Start at Karwar, an ancient town renowned for its seafood. Further, on the Gokarna stretch, stop off at the beautiful Om Beach. For the night, park yourself at the Turtle Bay Resort near Kundapura. Next, drive along NH-66 that runs along Maravanthe beach and the Suparnika river, creating a spectacular visual effect. Later, near Udupi, explore the century-old Kapu light- house and the St. Mary’s Islands, where Vasco da Gama landed in 1498.

history / nature / family-drive

4. Bengaluru to Coorg, via Mysore

Optimum duration: 5 days

In Mysore, go straight to the opulent Mysore Palace before visiting the Brindavan Gardens, one of the world’s most beautiful terrace gardens. From Mysore, drive up the hills to Coorg, one of world’s richest biodiversity spots, and famed for its coffee and spices. Head up to Madikeri and gape at the Abbey Falls. Finally, pamper yourself at the Vivanta by Taj-Madikeri, a property that made it to the Conde Nast Traveller Hot List 2013.

nature / wildlife / family-drive

5. Bengaluru to Alapuzha, via Munnar

Optimum duration: 7-10 days

From Bengaluru, head out to Salem (NH-7), and from there to Coimbatore (NH-47). From there, drive to the gorgeous hill-station of Munnar in Kerala. Munnar has the country's highest tea gardens, resplendent with mountain mist, waterfalls and wildlife sanctuaries. After your fill of life-in-the-clouds, head back down the coast to Alapuzha (formerly Alleppey) to soak up the backwaters experience. Rent a houseboat and relax before driving back.

beach / heritage / family-drive

6. Chennai to Kanyakumari, via Puducherry

Optimum duration: 4 days

Hit the East Coast Road out of Chennai. Stop by at the Cholamandala Artist's Village en route to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Mahabalipuram. Experience the best of Franco-Tamil culture in Puducherry before moving to Chidambaram to gape at the giant temples of Nataraja. Next, head to Madurai, home to the gorgeous Sri Meenakshi Temple. From here, it is a straight drive to Kanyakumari, where the Arabian Sea, Indian Ocean and Bay of Bengal meet.

heritage / family-drive

7. Delhi to Jaipur, via Agra

Optimum duration: 4-7 days

Invasions, wars, politics, intrigue—anything interesting that ever happened in North India over the last six centuries occurred in this region. You can piece together the history of India through each of the monuments you will visit: the iconic Taj Mahal, Fatehpur Sikri, the forts of Delhi and Agra, the pink palaces of Jaipur. They will all connect and overlap, painting a picture more vivid than any history book can.

adventure / biker's dream / 4x4

8. Delhi to Leh, via Manali

Optimum duration: 5 days

These thousand-odd kilometres are a road-tripper’s dream. Driving via Chandigarh, your first stop will be Manali. Go through Spiti, a desert mountain valley high in the Himalayas. Go over the Baralacha La that connects Himachal Pradesh to Ladakh in Kashmir. The roads here are tough, the weather fickle. The final hurdle is the Tanglang La, the second highest mountain pass in the world. You will be guided into Leh by the mighty Indus.

culture / heritage / family-drive

9. Jaipur to Jaisalmer, via Pushkar, Udaipur, Jodhpur

Optimum duration: 3-4 days

Check out the Amber Fort before driving off to Pushkar, which comes alive with a riot of colours during the camel fair in November. Then, drive to Udaipur, where the shimmering Lake Pichola and the Aravalli Hills add up to an unmatched setting. Wind your way up the hills to the Kumbhalgarh Wildlife Sanctuary. Next, head to Jodhpur to check out the Mehrangarh Fort. Final stop: Jaisalmer. Here, try to spend at least one night out on the sand dunes.

culture / nature / family-drive / biker's dream

10. Darjeeling to Tashiding, via Gangtok

Optimum duration: 4 days

Start off in Darjeeling and drive to Gangtok in Sikkim where you can visit the beautiful Do-drul Chorten Stupa, and the Enchey and Rumtek Monasteries. From there, drive to Pelling, a little town nestled 2,200 metres above sea, and the starting point for most of the tough treks in West Sikkim. Finally, visit the Tashiding Monastery, located atop a heart-shaped hill with the Mt. Kanchenjunga providing the scenic backdrop.