Be it a scenic highway flanked by the sea on one side or an off-beaten path zipping through verdant plantations, road trips offer a unique perspective to travel.
There’s nothing like having the wind in your hair and the view of the open road ahead; road trips are not just the best way to spend time with your closest group of friends, but witness the many facets of India’s scenic landscapes… for sometimes it’s about the journey, not the destination. Travel a little differently this year. Travel in a manner that connects you with nature, experience the varying cultures along the way, meet new people, sample different cuisines and add a recipe or two to your collection; dedicate this year to experiential travel that’s beyond the superficial.
Chennai to Puducherry
For the love of brightly coloured buildings, breakfast meals at quaint cafes along the road, enjoying the sea breeze or a walk around town that was once occupied by the French, Puducherry has always lured travellers to its shores.
Head to Puducherry from Chennai on SH-49. Known as the East Coast Road, it is a two-lane road. From Uthandi, the road offers delightful scenic views of the Bay of Bengal.
Stop at Cholamandal Artists’ Village Injabakkam, 9 km from Chennai. Breeze through the art galleries, museums, and if you have time on your hands, catch a drama or dance performance at their open-air theatre.
Almost 60 km south of Chennai lies the historic town of Mamallapuram, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Apart from the beautiful rock cut sculptures and rathas carved on stone, you can visit the local art shops to carry home a souvenir.
The airline offers direct services to Chennai from Mumbai, Port Blair and Pune, and convenient connections from Ahmedabad, Chandigarh, Delhi, Jammu, Lucknow, Patna and Srinagar.
Kochi to Munnar
In search of paradise, embark on a road trip to Munnar from Kochi. While the city satiates your shopping urges, Munnar offers a place to enjoy nature at its best, walk through rolling hills of tea gardens and watch the fog form a hazy shroud over the hills.
Almost three and a half hours away from Kochi, take NH-49 to reach Munnar. Though the road is smooth, it may get narrow at some places and there are quite a few hairpin turns. Once you cross the Neryamangalam Bridge, the road is flanked with trees on both sides, accompanying you till Adimali. Almost 8 km from Munnar, one can see tea plantations with a beautiful panoramic view of the Western Ghats.
Kerala exudes immense natural beauty, and at Valara, you can spend some time to enjoy the milky waterfalls. You can shop for some fragrant spices, and even refuel at some of the many restaurants here.
Best time to travel is in the morning. Avoid driving post sunset, as the road has quite a few hairpin turns that may be risky when the fog moves in.
The airline operates direct services to Kochi from Mumbai. GoAir offers further easy connections from Delhi, Bhubaneswar, Chandigarh and Kolkata from across its vast network.
Mumbai to Lonavala
Lonavala and Khandala are two sister hill stations in Maharashtra (7-8 km apart), at an elevation of 635 km from sea level. Known for their ever popular chikki, Bollywood has romanticised this region over the years. From scenic points to enchanting lakes, rolling mists during monsoon and adventure activities – they are perfect to soak in the beauty of nature.
The Mumbai-Pune Expressway is a convenient route to reach Khandala and Lonavala. It is a six-lane, high speed expressway that has tolled gates. Making its way through the Sahyadri mountains, the road offers magnificent views of the lush green hills, verdant valleys, waterfalls and lakes. Shedung, Chowk and Khalapur are three interchanges before hitting Lonavala.
Apart from resorts and restaurants at the hill stations, popular fast food eateries are available to satiate any hunger pangs.
While driving during the monsoon, do not drive above the recommended speed limit, and keep an eye on the turns around the mountainside.
Do check your tyres and leave early in the day to enjoy driving in low traffic on the expressway.
The airline offers direct services to Mumbai from Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Chandigarh, Delhi, Goa, Jaipur, among others, and convenient connections from Kolkata, Guwahati, Bagdogra, Ranchi, Port Blair, etc.
Written by Ramya JS D’Rozario