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Joie de Vivre: Best Roads in India for the Wanderlust

Take the wheel and hit the roads as you discover new places in the Arcadian settings of the Western Ghats or in the timeless beauty of the Northeast

For the inveterate travel addict, travelling is an obsession that is demanding and time consuming, but eminently satisfying. Road trips could be joyful, eloquent and life affirming – depending on where you go. Complete the pages of your wanderlust diaries as you saunter through these amazing landscapes of India.

NH4, Mumbai-Pune Expressway

Nestled in the picturesque surroundings of the Western Ghats, amidst the captivating background of high mountain ranges, lush green fields, waterfalls streaming down from great heights and railway cars chugging on the other side of the higher peaks, the Mumbai-Pune Expressway provides for a thrilling driving experience to unwind in nature’s lap. It is a 93-km-long six-lane highway, passing through the idyllic towns of Lonavala, Khandala and Kamshet, before ending up in the suburbs of Navi Mumbai. After starting your journey from Pune, stop at Lonavala for some photo-worthy moments, savour delicious “chikki,” but if hunger pangs gnaw at you, then try some delectable food options at Sunny Da Dhaba or The Kinara Village Dhaba. Lastly, zoom your way to Mumbai through the four ultra long tunnels to make your ride an unforgettable experience. So, what are you waiting for?? Hit the pedal to the metal and go, go, go!

Bengaluru to Bandipur Forest

Escape the humdrum of city life as you sojourn on this route, which passes through Bandipur National Park – recognised as one of the well-preserved national parks of India. As you pass through the forest ranges, enjoy the coolness in air, the windswept roads, the mild chorus of birds and a sublime quietness that’s invigorating and necessary for a healthy body and soul. Here, the journey itself becomes the destination, where you would want to stop for a while and lie down under the cool shades of trees, enjoying the faint cuckooing of birds amidst sun-dappled forests. What can be more enriching than this sort of a blissful experience?

Old Silk Route, Kalimpong to Zuluk

Visiting the Northeast is always on the Bucket List of every travel fanatic. The lush valleys, white snowy mountain tops and the rich tea gardens seem so inviting that it never fails to catch the fancy of a globetrotter. One such fantasy is the Old Silk Route, connecting Kalimpong, West Bengal, to Zuluk, Sikkim, which once connected India to Tibet. Travel to this Far East corner of India to witness mesmerising sunrise views over the Kanchenjunga range, zigzagging your way through 32 hairpin bends to reach the top. There are many vantage points on the way up from where you can see the valley in its iridescent hues. Thambi Viewpoint, at an altitude of 11,200ft, is considered as the best sunrise viewpoint along the Silk Route, where sun, nature and mountain peaks play a kaleidoscopic game of hide and seek. Engage the hodophile in you and take to the roads to experience the vagaries of life.

Guwahati to Tawang

It is said that the spirituality and peace one experiences at a monastery is an incomparable feeling. Explore the pristine beauty of the Northeast as you embark on this route to Tawang – home to stunning monasteries of India. The snow-clad mountains, mist-laden roads, clear skies make for an ultimate, unhurried adventure, where you can just drive without worrying to reach anywhere. It’s advisable to be careful while driving on this route, as it’s a high altitude zone. It’s extremely beautiful and, yes, the ride is challenging. Interested? Then set off for the trip and engage yourself in the Arcadian beauty of this monastery town.

Chalakudy to Valparai, Western Ghats

Looking for a nascent route to do a trip, then travel along the border route of Chalakudy in Kerala and Valparai in Tamil Nadu. Situated amidst the green belt cover of the border areas of both the states, the route passes through beautiful rain forests of the Western Ghats, waterfalls, umpteen curves, verdant tea estates, wildlife and oodles of greenery. Swathes of green-carpeted expanse will leave you contented and in sync with nature. Since this route comes under forest reserves, it is only open from sunrise to sunset. It has the highest populations of elephants and tigers. The scenic spots include Sholayar dam, the Vazhachal falls and the ‘Niagara of Kerala – the Athirapally Falls’ are icing on the cake. Driving on these meandering roads, with only greenery in sight, one experiences an overwhelming sense of gratification that is hard to jot down in words. Won’t you want to experience this gratification, where your eyes and mind are met with a tranquilising effect? Seriously, if you’re a nemophilist then this is where you belong.

Srinagar to Leh

The Srinagar – Leh Highway is one of the most revered driving destinations in India and even the world. Driving on this highway is like a dream come true. It’s said that one should definitely drive through the treacherous terrains of this route for an experience of a lifetime. It’s also called the “Indian Grand Canyon.” The highway runs alongside Indus River and passes through three high mountain passes. It is situated at an extremely high altitude of more than 12,000 ft. Experience the ethereal landscape of this region, in its snow-dabbed mountains, bright green oasis of rivers surrounding villages, century-old monasteries perched atop rocky cliffs, as you swerve your way through narrow steep ascents, badly broken stretches, water streams, and handle slush and pass through the high passes, finally arriving in Leh. Think you can brave up this challenge? Well go ahead and plan a trip, who knows it might become one of your most cherished memories of life.

Chennai to Pondicherry, East Coast Road

If you’re a thalassophile then you should cruise through the East Coast Road connecting Chennai to Pondicherry, overlooking the Bay of Bengal for the entire stretch of your journey. Sounds interesting? Yes, indeed it is. Imagine your entire journey would pass coasting along the beautiful azure waters, with rugged brown mountains surmounting you from the other side of the road. Experience this colour contrast and the panoramic views, as you drive with your car’s engine at full throttle. The unending vastness of ocean spreads throughout the horizon, with nothing but only clear waters in sight, reflecting the crisp blueness of skies. The numinous beauty of the landscape will make you feel heady with excitement. Truly beautiful, isn’t it? Well, for a thrilling driving experience, a 3-hour night ride on this route is highly recommended to experience the serene sight of moonglade, but beware of those treacherous curvaceous bends.

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