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Passenger bus on road in tea plantations, Munnar, Kerala state, India
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The 12 best road trips in India

From the rugged north to the lush, green hills of the south, India has an epic road trip for everyone

Dimple Shiv
Written by
Dimple Shiv

For me, off-roading in the Himalayas has to be my favourite road trip in India. I remember tucking in a shawl in the back seat of the car at 4am, heading from Chandrataal towards Delhi in -7C temperatures. The shivering cold, missing out on sleep, and every other compromise was all worth it for the experience of road-tripping through the narrow serpentine roads that make their way through the world’s highest mountains.

But that’s not the only unforgettable road trip that India has in store. From the rugged northern terrain of Ladakh to the lush hills of Kerala in the south, this vast country has something for every kind of traveller. Trust me: there is no better way to explore this land of vibrant culture, delicious food, rich culture and welcoming people than by hitting the road. Fasten your seat belts and start planning for these unmissable Indian road trips.


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The best road trips in India

Golden Triangle Circuit
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1. Golden Triangle Circuit

Starting from Delhi – the national capital and home to some of India’s most mouthwatering food – the first leg of the trip takes you to a bona fide icon: the Taj Mahal at Agra. Then turn and drive west towards Jaipur to witness the golden deserts and unique culture of Rajasthan. The final side of the triangle is the road back to Delhi: leave time for a luxurious stop-off amid the royal surroundings of Neemrana Fort Palace.

Distance: 447 miles

Rajasthan Circuit
Photograph: Mirko Kuzmanovic /

2. Rajasthan Circuit

From a desert safari under the moonlight to a puppet show performed to Rajasthani folk music, there’s a tonne to experience on this road trip circuit touching the four major cities of the state: Jaipur, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, and Udaipur. You can also call it a gastronomical road trip for the variety of food you can consume across the state: ghewar, kachori, dal baati choorma and more.

Distance: 1,087 miles

Shimla to Spiti Valley
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3. Shimla to Spiti Valley

If you are a mountain child or a fan of off-roading, you cannot miss out on the drive from Shimla to Spiti. The trip takes you along the bumpy-yet-beautiful dirt roads of Himachal Pradesh, surrounded with apple-laden trees. Keep your camera app open to capture the snow-capped peaks, blue skies and crystal-clear rivers.

Distance: 263 miles

Guwahati to Tawang
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4. Guwahati to Tawang

Surrounded by the mighty Himalayas, the north-eastern part of India is still an underrated gem. From lush green valleys to the serenity of Buddhist monasteries, this road trip is the perfect choice to unwind and escape the crowd. It’s also a chance to witness the Indigenous cultures of tribes such as the Monpa, Takpa, Karbi and Miri, including traditional local festivals and dance forms like bihu.

Distance: 318 miles

Mumbai to Goa
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5. Mumbai to Goa

Famous for being featured in one of the best Bollywood movies, ’Dil Chahta Hai’, this road trip takes you along India’s beautiful west coast. The roads from Mumbai to Goa are super-smooth and surrounded by tall, lush palm trees. There are frequent beaches to stop for sunbathing, and plenty of incredible local food in the small villages and towns along the Konkan coast.

Distance: 365 miles

Chennai to Pondicherry
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6. Chennai to Pondicherry

India has its very own French town: Pondicherry. If you are in the southern part of the country, do not miss out on the road trip there from Chennai. You’ll travel through not just French-inspired architecture but also many quaint fishing villages and pristine beaches, feasting on delicious seafood and fresh coconut water along the way.

Distance: 93 miles

Ahmedabad to Kutch
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7. Ahmedabad to Kutch

This road trip is all about meeting people: the friendly locals of Ahmedabad, the skilled artisans in the villages of Kutch and the nomadic tribes roaming the desert. Time your journey between October and February to experience the lively Rann Utsav festival in the white-sand Kutch desert – the kite-flying event in February is particularly spectacular.

Distance: 248m

Mysore to Hampi
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8. Mysore to Hampi

Drive through the heart of Karnataka state and soak up the rich culture and history along your way. The road runs by a plethora of ancient heritage and architectural marvels: Chitradurga Fort, 
Ranganathaswamy Temple in Srirangapatna, Dariya Daulat Palace… Give in to the cliché of posing for selfies: your future self will thank you for the memories.

Distance: 265 miles

Bengaluru to Ooty
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9. Bengaluru to Ooty

If you fancy a cup of tea and a blast of fresh air, then hop in the driver’s seat and get set on a Bengaluru to Ooty road trip. The route will take you through the lush green Western Ghats, where you can slurp some tea fresh out of the plantation. Leave time to admire the enormous and beautiful waterfalls of Chunchi and Shivanasamudra.

Distance: 168 miles

Chennai to Munnar
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10. Chennai to Munnar

Sprawling across a wide area, the tea plantations on the route out of Chennai will leave you awestruck. The route takes you through wildlife sanctuaries and serene backwaters: you might be caught off-guard by the diverse range of flora and fauna in this region. From scenic surroundings to cultural diversity, this drive has something in store no matter what you’re looking for in a road trip.

Distance: 395 miles

Chilpi to Kanha
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11. Chilpi to Kanha

Bypassing through lush and dense Sal forest of Madhya Pradesh, this road trip is one of the best to explore the centre of India. The starting point, Chilpi, is located right at the border of Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh, while Kanha is home to one of India’s biggest national parks. Along the road there are high chances of coming across a herd of deer or bison, a troop of monkeys or other wild animals strolling around.

Distance: 59 miles

Bagdogra to Darjeeling
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12. Bagdogra to Darjeeling

This exhilarating journey takes you along winding roads that ascend towards lush green hills. Along the way you can stop by small villages or pop inside the tea plantations. The occasional hairpin turns might leave you gasping, so don’t let the stunning views of the mighty Himalayas and Victorian architecture distract you from fastening your seat belt.

Distance: 43 miles

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