July 20, 2024

India’s Most Scenic Road Trips: Routes and Tips



India, with its vast and diverse landscape, offers some of the most scenic road trips in the world. From the towering Himalayas in the north to the lush Western Ghats in the south, and from the arid deserts of Rajasthan to the coastal splendor of Kerala, there’s a road trip for every kind of traveler. Embarking on these journeys not only allows you to witness the breathtaking beauty of the country but also to experience its rich cultural tapestry. Here’s a detailed guide to some of India’s most scenic road trips, along with tips to make your journey memorable.

1. Manali to Leh

Route: Manali – Rohtang Pass – Keylong – Sarchu – Leh

The road trip from Manali to Leh is legendary for its dramatic landscapes and high-altitude passes. Covering a distance of approximately 480 kilometers, this journey is a test of endurance and an adventure of a lifetime. The route takes you through the lush green valleys of Manali, the snow-covered Rohtang Pass, the barren beauty of Lahaul and Spiti, and the stunning Pangong Lake.



  • Best Time to Visit: June to September
  • Prepare for Altitude Sickness: Acclimatize in Manali before starting the trip.
  • Vehicle: A sturdy 4×4 vehicle is recommended.
  • Permits: Obtain necessary permits for Rohtang Pass and Leh.

2. Mumbai to Goa

Route: Mumbai – Lonavala – Pune – Satara – Kolhapur – Goa

The Mumbai to Goa road trip is a favorite among beach lovers and party-goers. Stretching over 600 kilometers, this route offers scenic coastal views, winding ghats, and charming towns. You can choose to take the NH66 for a coastal drive or the NH48 for a more direct route through the Western Ghats.


  • Best Time to Visit: October to March
  • Stopover Suggestions: Lonavala for its chikki and views, Satara for the Kaas Plateau.
  • Vehicle: Any car or bike; the roads are well-maintained.
  • Plan Your Stay: Book accommodations in advance, especially during the peak season.

3. Bangalore to Ooty

Route: Bangalore – Mysore – Bandipur – Mudumalai – Ooty

This 270-kilometer route from Bangalore to Ooty takes you through the picturesque landscapes of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. Passing through the cultural hub of Mysore, the wildlife-rich Bandipur and Mudumalai forests, and finally, the rolling hills of Ooty, this journey is a blend of nature and heritage.


  • Best Time to Visit: October to June
  • Wildlife Alert: Drive carefully through Bandipur and Mudumalai; follow park rules.
  • Vehicle: Suitable for any vehicle, though a car with good ground clearance is preferable.
  • Explore: Spend a day in Mysore and visit the Mysore Palace and Brindavan Gardens.

4. Chennai to Pondicherry

Route: Chennai – Mahabalipuram – Pondicherry

The East Coast Road (ECR) connecting Chennai to Pondicherry is a short but stunning drive along the Bay of Bengal. Covering around 160 kilometers, this route is dotted with historical landmarks, pristine beaches, and the vibrant culture of Tamil Nadu.


  • Best Time to Visit: October to March
  • Stopover Suggestions: Mahabalipuram for its UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
  • Vehicle: Any car or bike; the roads are smooth and scenic.
  • Experience: Enjoy the French colonial charm and cuisine in Pondicherry.

5. Ahmedabad to Kutch

Route: Ahmedabad – Bhuj – Rann of Kutch

The road trip from Ahmedabad to the Rann of Kutch is a journey into the heart of Gujarat’s desert landscape. Spanning about 400 kilometers, this route takes you through the historical city of Bhuj and into the white salt flats of the Rann of Kutch.


  • Best Time to Visit: October to February, especially during the Rann Utsav.
  • Vehicle: A sturdy vehicle is recommended for the desert terrain.
  • Permits: Obtain necessary permits for visiting the Rann.
  • Cultural Experience: Participate in the Rann Utsav for cultural performances, crafts, and cuisine.

6. Kolkata to Darjeeling

Route: Kolkata – Siliguri – Darjeeling

This road trip from Kolkata to Darjeeling covers about 650 kilometers, offering a transition from the bustling city to the serene hills. The journey takes you through the plains of West Bengal to the tea gardens and colonial charm of Darjeeling.


  • Best Time to Visit: March to June and September to December
  • Vehicle: Any car is suitable; ensure it’s in good condition for the hilly terrain.
  • Stopover Suggestions: Siliguri for a break and tea garden visits.
  • Explore: Don’t miss the toy train ride and sunrise at Tiger Hill in Darjeeling.

7. Delhi to Agra via Yamuna Expressway

Route: Delhi – Agra

This is one of the most popular road trips for history and architecture enthusiasts. The 233-kilometer drive from Delhi to Agra via the Yamuna Expressway is smooth and fast, taking you to the iconic Taj Mahal, Agra Fort, and Fatehpur Sikri.


  • Best Time to Visit: November to March
  • Vehicle: Any car; the expressway is well-maintained.
  • Travel Time: Approximately 3-4 hours, depending on traffic.
  • Plan Ahead: Start early to avoid traffic and spend more time exploring Agra.


General Road Trip Tips

  • Safety First: Ensure your vehicle is in good condition, carry a spare tire, and have a first-aid kit on hand.
  • Stay Connected: Keep your phone charged and have a car charger. GPS navigation can be very helpful.
  • Hydrate and Snack: Carry enough water and snacks for the journey, especially for long stretches without amenities.
  • Local Cuisine: Don’t miss out on trying local food at recommended stops along the way.
  • Respect Local Culture: Be mindful of local customs and traditions, especially in remote areas.
  • Eco-Friendly Travel: Keep the environment in mind. Avoid littering and follow eco-friendly practices.


India’s scenic road trips offer a unique way to experience the country’s natural beauty and cultural richness. Whether you’re navigating the high-altitude passes of the Himalayas, cruising along the coastal roads of the south, or exploring the desert landscapes of the west, each journey promises an adventure filled with unforgettable sights and experiences. So pack your bags, tune your playlist, and hit the road for a journey of a lifetime.

More articles: Exploring India’s Historical Forts and Palaces