India is a popular travel destination as there are many amazing places to visit in this country. While you can take train rides or fly in some parts of the country, you can also choose to enjoy India by car.
This article presents you the best road trips in India. You’ll discover 10 scenic drives in India that you’ll love!
These road trips through India allow you to better understand the country and its culture, but also to enjoy mesmerizing landscapes – from palms to desert, from the sea to the forest and to one of the deadliest roads in the world!
Best Road Trips in India: 10 Unmissable Scenic Drives in India
No amount of air travel or rail travel can be as fulfilling and adventurous as a land journey. Road trips provide an excellent opportunity to cherish the journey more than the destination.
Road trips also contribute to travelling responsibly and travelling slow. It gives a chance to explore the small offbeat and less visited places during the journey.
If you have come across such unforeseen surprises on your way, you would love this article. We have put together some most scenic road trip routes across India that one must not miss out on driving.
The Best Road Trips in India: 10 Unmissable Scenic Drives in India
- Konark to Puri in Odisha
- Mandapam to Dhanushkodi in Tamil Nadu
- Goa to Gokarna on Konkan coast
- Mumbai to Pune in Maharashtra
- Chennai to Pondicherry in Tamil Nadu
- Shimla to Manali in Himachal Pradesh
- Jodhpur to Jaisalmer in Rajasthan
- Ambala to Khab in Himachal Pradesh
- Guwahati to Tawang in North East India
- Manali to Leh across Himachal and J&K
1. Konark to Puri in Odisha
With flawless and empty roads, the ride from the Sun temple town of Konark to the sacred city of Puri is highly picturesque and one of the best road trips in India.
One can witness two different landscapes while on this road with the sea on one side and the forest on the other. While passing through the forest area on the way, the sunshade formed by the trees on either side of the road is a sight to behold.
This road trip is best done on a motorbike.
Distance – 35 kilometres; Travel Time – 1 hour
2. Mandapam to Dhanushkodi in Tamil Nadu
Driving on the Pamban Bridge for 2.5 kilometres is the highlight of this road trip. While entering the bridge, the sea seems to swallow the road making it more adventurous and scary.
The road runs parallel to the rail bridge and gives a wonderful view of the mighty sea. The vehicles often sway with the forceful push of the wind. So be careful while riding on this road.
Also, keep a check on the weather conditions when you plan to ride/ drive on this stretch of road. The authorities often close it down in windy, stormy and heavy-rain situations.
The road trip from Mandapam to Dhanushkodi in Tamil Nadu is one of the top scenic drives in India! As a side note, in Tamil Nadu you’ll find one of the most beautiful waterfalls in India and you can also visit Mahabalipuram.
Distance – 40 kilometres; Travel Time – 1 hour
3. Goa to Gokarna on Konkan coast
The scenic beauty of the road from Goa to Gokarna gets better and better in every couple of minutes. Goa to Gokarna road trip is one of the best coastal drives giving one a chance to experience the change in dialect, food and the landscapes.
The coconut and palm trees on either side of the road sway with the fresh air that the Arabian Sea throws towards the land.
Distance – 145 kilometres; Travel Time – 3.5 hours
4. Mumbai to Pune in Maharashtra
Riding on India’s first 6-lane highway from Mumbai (one of the most densely populated cities) to Pune is thrilling and that is why this is one of the best drives in India.
Sadly 2-wheelers are not allowed on this road, but driving a 4-wheeler is an amazing experience in itself. The 2-wheelers will have to take the old Mumbai-Pune highway.
The drive is scenic with village, valley and mountain views and one will pass through the popular hill stations like Lonavala and Khandala.
Distance – 150 kilometres; Travel Time – 3 hours
5. Chennai to Pondicherry in Tamil Nadu
The East Coast road connecting Pondicherry with Chennai runs along the Bay of Bengal coastline. This Indian road trip gives a varied experience of the urban setting (Chennai), the lost city (Mahabalipuram) and the French setting (Pondicherry).
Hopping along the many beaches that come on the way on one side and few lakes that would often appear on the other side makes this road trip irresistible.
The drive time is just 3.5 hours but believe us, you will halt and stop at every curve of the road and will end up completing the journey in not less than 5-6 hours.
Distance – 153 kilometres; Travel Time – 3.5 hours
6. Shimla to Manali in Himachal Pradesh
With Beas River streaming alongside, the Shimla to Manali road trip is picturesque and, thus, one of the scenic road trips in India.
It is one of the best drives in India to unwind and relax.
The road passes through the majestic mountains and the lush green valleys that can inspire any artist and excite any globetrotter.
You can also spot plenty of pine trees, deodars, and apple orchards on the way. If you are prone to motion sickness, make sure you pop in an anti-histamine to enjoy this journey.
Distance – 250 kilometres; Travel Time – 7 hours
7. Jodhpur to Jaisalmer in Rajasthan
The drive from the Blue city of Jodhpur to deserts of Jaisalmer is quite different from the ones mentioned in this article.
The road passes through the desert with golden sand and barren land as far as one can see.
A drive during the night is especially recommended as one can spot the enhanced starry sky with meteor showers in close to zero light pollution environment.
The culture and history of the state of Rajasthan blends in with the journey which makes this one of the best road trips in India.
Distance – 285 kilometres; Travel Time – 4.5 hours
8. Ambala to Khab in Himachal Pradesh
Also famous as the Silk Route or NH22 highway, this Hindustan-Tibet road is also considered as one of the ‘Deadliest Roads’ in the world.
But as they say, beauty lies in adventure, the whole stretch of the highway is extremely scenic.
This drive is not for the weak hearted though! The journey is treacherous and eventually takes one to the last inhabited village on the Indo-Tibet border.
This scenic route takes you to Spiti Valley, the land of monasteries and Buddhism.
Never go by the time suggested by Google Maps when travelling to Spiti Valley. The journey to Khab is slow, tiring but rewarding at the same time.
Distance – 430 kilometres; Travel Time – 13 hours
9. Guwahati to Tawang in North East India
This is a 5-6 day-long road trip that takes one through frozen lakes, snow-clad passes, and colorful monasteries.
You have to arrange for a permit to enter the state of Arunachal Pradesh.
It’s also fun to get to know and speak with the various tribal communities and know more about their culture while on the trip. Guwahati to Tawang in North East India is definitely one of the scenic road trips in India.
Distance – 450 kilometres; Travel Time – 15 hours
10. Manali to Leh across Himachal and J&K
Driving through the snow-covered Himalayas on the Leh-Manali highway with Chenab River flowing parallel to the road is magical.
Riding on this road in an open jeep or on a bullet is highly popular. The curvy roads and gentle elevations add charm to the adventurous ride and make it one of the best Indian road trips to take.
Distance – 470 kilometres; Travel Time – 15 hours
About the author
Fairytale Studios is at the crossroad of Photography & Travel. It is an attempt by a writer-photographer couple to bring a shift in the culture of travel where travellers are empowered by information, aspire for authentic experiences and act more responsibly. They strive to achieve this through their articles which range from experiential travel guides, reviews of properties and travel-related service providers, products, photo blogs, educational content and tips for travellers and photographers. You can follow them on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest.