Gliding past vehicles at a 100 km/h with humongous rocks on one side and 10000 foot deep valleys on the other, or sailing past cars at a 180 km/h on expressways with the sun setting and its golden rays making your face unusually beautiful: these are experiences that either sends your blood pumping, with adrenaline, kicking in to new heights or make you as serene as a priest. But, whatever the effect, they are worth the effort.
When we talk about India, we don’t really care about the road conditions. Not because they are always in good shape, but because it’s exactly the opposite. But we are not reading this article to complain about the government, are we?
We are reading this article to discuss those roads that, with combined effort from the government and mother Earth, can make our lives one hell of a roller coaster ride, for some time. Apart from these dynamic roads, we will also include milky smooth expressways and highways (a credit solely to our government), a ride which can provide much beyond serenity, unperturbed from all the worries of life.
1. Yamuna Expressway
Photo by sarangib, CC0 1.0
A complete driving pleasure! Ask people who have already used this route and you will know why this is the first on my list. It is one of the most popular stretches nowadays, particularly amongst the youth, because of the ultimate speed thrill it can provide. Just imagine covering 165 kilometres in 2-2.5 hrs, the road is that smooth! Apart from the smoothness and the three lanes with safety roads on each side, the view will leave you spellbound with alluring greenery, spread out on both sides of the road. As soon as you enter the expressway, that connects Greater Noida with Agra, you will find yourself breaking the 100 km/h speed limit. This road is a must, especially if you have the stamina to drive it!
2. Gangtok To Nathu La Pass
Way to tsomgo lake, Photo by Rudolph.A.furtado, CC0 1.0
This is more for the experience, than for the driving pleasure. Being one of the three open trading border posts, it is just 55 kilometres from Gangtok, settling at a staggering altitude of 14000 ft. Even though you won’t be able to crank up the engine (you wouldn’t dare to), the beauty and peace will more than make up for it. The ride can be intimidating, especially with the fear of landslides during rains, but nothing so dangerous that will stop you from admiring the beauty of the winding valleys beneath you or of the meeting of peaks and sky or the yaks moving about, in groups. Apart from the drive, you can also stop and admire the frozen lake “Tsomgo”. Plus, do not forget to ride the yaks there and shop at the china bazaar. Most of all, you will start respecting the army, standing at the end of the pass.
3. Puri To Konark
When on a trip to Puri, it is futile to not pay homage to the famous Jagannathpuri and Knonark Temple, while one marks faith, the other is a wonder of the past. The route you can use here is the national highway, NH-203. Again, a pleasureable road to drive, this is more of drive-peacefully-and-chill kind of route. While you can rush your car through the 35 kilometres stretch, you are better off not doing so. Drive at a soothing 60-70 km/h and enjoy the wind rushing past your face as the trees form a beautiful canopy from side of the road. What’s more is, apart from the soothing road journey, you can make stops at Chandrabhaga Beach and Ramachandi Temple, with the latter also offering boat rides. A small tip, try setting out early morning especially on a scooter (available on minimal rents).
4. Guwahati To Tawang
Sella pass, Photo by Ani ttbr, CC BY-SA 3.0
Before giving further information on this route, it would be beneficial to know that covering this road in just one day is not advisable. Rather, breaking it up and covering it over two days will leave you with a much more comfortable experience and will provide you the opportunity to stop and enjoy the places, in between. The 500+ km journey can be divided into four main stops in Assam, namely: Tezpur, Bhalukpong, Bomdila and Dirang. Spread over these four places, you can check out temples, valleys, hills, wildlife sanctuaries, monasteries and infinite gifts from nature. The drive to Dirang is quite pleasurable but from Dirang to Tawang is quite rough, but then again, the view, the stops, the driving experience and the other parts make it a must do!
5. Hindustan Tibet Road
Photo by Sanyam Bahga, CC BY-SA 3.0
Better known as the national highway, NH-22, you won't want to miss any view on this 500 km road. It is adorned with rocky mountains and deep valleys on either side, personifying the saying that “beauty can be deadly”, and is rated one of the deadliest roads. A marvel of engineering, this road starts as an ordinary road but as you progress towards Ladakh, the transformation will both mesmerize and stun you. Along the way, there are many places to visit, food to eat and places to rest. But, the only reason it’s here on this list is because of the ultimate driving thrill it serves, on a platter.
6. Mumbai To Rann Of Kutch
Rann of kutch, Photo by Nagarjun Kandukuru, CC BY 2.0
A simple yet pleasurable drive, the road does surprise you with changes in quality from Maharashtra to Gujarat and then there is Ahmedabad-Bhuj highway. The 900+ kilometre journey is not really that tiresome, given the fact that places to eat and rest, with clean washrooms are in abundance and spread evenly, throughout the distance. In all, it is convenient enough to take you to the places to visit, in Ahmedabad. The reason this route makes it on this list is simply because of the exhilarating effect of driving at 150+ km/h on a not-so-straight road, with barren yellow land on both sides - yes that’s the Ahmedabad-Bhuj highway.
7. Jaipur To Ranthambore
Ranthambore expressway, Photo by TeshTesh, CC BY-SA 4.0
With the road spanning 145 kilometres, apart from a not-so-great stretch of approx. 30 kilometres of SH-24, the journey is excellent. Even after that 30 km stretch (that kills a lot of time), the journey takes only about 2.5 hours. Hence, the verdict is in favour of this road, surrounded by lush greenery and huge mountains. If planned beforehand, the whole journey can be a more-than-delightful experience. Why does it make it on the list? I guess somethings should be tried out!
Summing up, now that you know where to start or go next (that is if you have already started), any delay would be absurd. Go wander!
A history enthusiast, Himanshu is in love with every architecture that holds a key to the past. Currently working for Pearls India Tour, he continues, on his quest to visit every destination and to give a first-hand experience to anyone reading his articles. Find him on Twitter @him_agarwal