With the global pandemic nearly shutting down the travel and tourism industry, the joy of heading off to a vacation, flying down to your favorite destination, and doing things that you would usually do on a holiday, is not the same anymore. Over the last year, we have learned to revisit our lifestyle choices, things we do and see, including travel.
Like everything else in our life right now, traveling is also seeing a new norm. Global research reveals that with increased concern about crowded places like airports, bus and train stations, road trips in India are making a huge comeback (not that they were ever out of trend) and driving appears to be safer than flying.
Why road trips?
Like always, road trips in India are a great way to make your travel more experiential. Unless you are traveling internationally (which is yet very limited), you can easily go anywhere within the country by road. Even travelers who would usually fly out, are now preferring to take the road than regular modes of transport. Whether you drive yourself or rent a hygienic and sanitized car, people now feel safer on the road. Many travelers also find road travel at this time more practical and economical.
Also, nothing quite beats the fulfilment you get from being on the open road. We have every reason to believe that after months of lockdown and being restricted to your home office, it is more rejuvenating and refreshing to get out there and see the endless horizon.
The ones who love to blaze the trails will agree that there’s nothing quite like a wholesome road trip. It’s a whole different thrill to hit the highways, cut through quaint towns and villages, watch the landscape changing, and maybe have some unexpected adventures on the way.
The roads to hit this year – Best road trips in India
If this year, you are considering hitting the road and finally have some quality travel experiences, here are some of our favorite and best routes for an ultimate road trip.
Mumbai – Pune Expressway
This is the fastest and longest intrastate highway in Maharashtra that connects the metro city of Mumbai to Pune and then leads to Goa. The route goes via some of the best towns and nature spots on the Western Ghats in Maharashtra. You can even take a slight detour from the highway to visit other popular destinations en route. For the best experience on this road, visit during or after the monsoon.
Stop by places like Lonavala, Khandala, Amby Valley, Rajmachi Fort, for their scenic views, a short trek, or visit centuries-old forts. Take the road further down to Pune, then to the historical town of Satara, the floral Kaas Plateau, or drive through the Koyna Wildlife Sanctuary. Head further on the highway to reach the beautiful hill towns of Panchgani, Mahabaleshwar, the sleepy village of Wai, or stop at the local strawberry farms.
East Coast Road or SH49/ NH32/ SH176
This two-lane road, running along the coast of the Bay of Bengal, connects Chennai to Kanyakumari. Regarded as the most scenic highway on the eastern coast of India, this road goes through some very prominent and popular tourist locales, historical and geographical landmarks of Tamil Nadu. With old resort towns, colonial structures, temples, and monuments, on one side and the breathtaking views of the bay on the other, this drive is sure to make the most of your road travel.
Stop at the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Mahabalipuram, or the old resort town of Tranquebar. Drive through the old French colony of Pondicherry or the ruins of Fort St. David in Cuddalore, or the beaches of Karaikal. Take a detour from the pilgrim town of Rameshwaram to cross the Pamban Bridge and head to Dhanushkodi, the easternmost end of mainland India.
One of the best and longest driving routes in Northern India, this road is as thrilling as it can get. It cuts through the capital and NCR region, the small towns of Uttar Pradesh and Uttaranchal. Though a tough and long drive, the scenic beauty of the lower Himalayas makes every minute of it worthwhile.
On this highway, you will pass historic towns like Panipat and Ambala. Stop by the most planned city of Chandigarh, or the famous Bhakra-Nangal Dam in Bilaspur, or explore the lush valleys of Kully. You could also make a detour to the charming hill capital of Shimla for the views and the old-world vibes or enjoy snow sports in Kufri. You could also head to the Great Himalayan National Park for a drive through the mountain flora and fauna.
So, where would you go on a road trip this year?