India is rich in culture, diversity, food & offers various breathtaking destinations that you must visit at least once in a lifetime. From the snow capped Himalayan ranges in the north to lush green mountains complemented by beaches in the south and from dry and hot desert ranges in the west to areas that receive the highest rainfall in the east, there is a place for every traveler.
India offers a range of transport systems to travel these destinations - trains, buses, flights and of course the best of all - road trips as long as you have an International Driving Licence India (only required for non resident of India)
Leh Ladakh, Jammu and Kashmir - A road trip to Leh is an adventure of a lifetime. This path offers breathtaking views of the Himalayan Mountain Ranges. This place is an absolute beauty for road trippers as you see magical blue lakes, rugged terrains and high mountain passes on your way. Here is a guide to help you plan your road trip.
Route: You can either take the Manali-Leh Highway which remains commutable from June to mid-October. This is a more challenging route because of high passes. The other route, that is, Srinagar-Leh highway offers great views of the Kashmir valley. It remains open during May to November and offers a milder ascent.
Permits: If you are a foreign national, you must make sure to have all the necessary permits like a Protected Area Permit.
Vehicle Preparation: It is important to ensure that the vehicle that you are renting is in a good condition as you will be covering rugged and remote terrains. You can carry spare tools, extra tires and fuel for sure. Fuel stations can be scarce so you must refill your tank wherever possible.
Key Destinations: Some must visit places around Leh are Pangong Lake, Nubra Valley, Khardungla Pass which is the highest motorable road in the world. There are some beautiful monasteries to visit as well like Thiksey and Hemis.
Spiti Valley, Himachal Pradesh - The best time to visit Spiti Valley is during the summer months, from July to September when the weather is relatively clear and pleasant.
Route: There are two primary routes to visit Spiti. Shimla - Manali route remains accessible between June to September and takes you through high mountain passes like Rohtang Pass.
Shimla to Spiti Valley - This route remains open from May to October and is less difficult as compared to the Shimla Manali route.
Permits - If you are a foreign national, you must make sure to have all the necessary permits like a Protected Area Permit.
Vehicle Preparation - It is important to ensure that the vehicle that you are renting is in a good condition as you will be covering rugged and remote terrains. You can carry spare tools, extra tires and fuel for sure. Fuel stations can be scarce so you must refill your tank wherever possible.You must also carry a first aid kit and a tire repair kit.
Key Destinations - Must visit places in Spiti are Kaza (main town), Tabo Monastery, Key Monastery, Chandratal Lake and the ancient village of Langza.
Mumbai to Goa, Maharashtra - A road trip on this coastal route offers scenic views of multiple beaches, absolutely beautiful landscapes and vibrant cultures. The ideal time to visit Goa is between October till March.
Route: One of the most common route is NH66 from Mumbai to Goa which offers stunning coastal views. Another route to reach Goa would be through navigating through the Western Ghats after taking NH66 till Amboli Ghats.
Distance and Travel Time: The distance between the two cities is approximately 550 kilometers, hence, the travel time remains between 8 to 12 hours on the road.
Permits: Contrary to traveling on the hills in the North, you only need an International driving license India and your vehicle documents with a car insurance in place.
Accommodation - Goa offers a range of stays varying to hostels to luxury resorts. The place offers a blend of Indian and Portuguese culture which is portrayed in its food, attire and architecture.
Key Destinations - You can stop at major attractions like Alibaug, Ganpatipule, Ratnagiri and other beaches along the Konkan coast. Goa is famous for its nightlife, cultural and historic attractions and number of beaches in North and South Goa.
Leh to Kanyakumari - This trip covers a vast distance, starting from the northernmost part of India and ending at the southernmost part. One is bound to experience an absolute variety of cultures, landscapes, and weather experiences. This trip covers pretty much all the major cities in the country leaving you enriched with the diversity and culture in India.
Key Destinations - In addition to the snow covered mountains in Leh, you can indulge in some absolute treat to your taste buds by halting at Amritsar, Punjab. You can make a visit to the very popular Golden Temple and definitely enjoy Punjabi cuisine. Next you can stop at Delhi, the national capital, and explore historic monuments like the Red Fort, Qutub Minar, India Gate and more.
Next on your list can be Agra which offers the epitome of beauty, Taj Mahal. Moving towards the west, you can cover the pink city, Jaipur and savor your taste buds with Rajasthani food. This can be followed by a halt at Mumbai and Goa and finally moving towards the southernmost tip, Kanyakumari which offers lush green mountains and beautiful views to relax and indulge in the simple beauty of nature.
Permits - You must check for permits required in the Leh region and you should be sorted for the remaining list as long as you have a driving license handy.
Vehicle Preparation - You must ensure that the vehicle is in an excellent condition keeping the long distances that it has to cover. Carry spare tools and all the necessary identification documents.
Climate - The weather is going to vary as you move from snow covered mountains in the north to tropical beaches in the south, hence pack accordingly. Avoid traveling during the rainy season (June - September) to enjoy the beauty of these places. This is a long and challenging journey so you should be well prepared in terms of your travel itinerary and vehicle.
Overall, road trips in India are relaxing and full of adventures as they offer you a mix of weather, culture, food and a bag of memories to cherish.