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