Between the long commutes, work hours, crowds and chaos, we often forget to take a moment and just breathe while trying to get by in this fast-paced city life. At the first chance of a break, we either rush to the nearest holiday spot, hill station and beach for some R&R or just bundle up at home on our beds with a cosy blanket and our laptops.
We often lose the will to experiment and shake things up with our vacation plans when daily life itself becomes tiring, and in this hustle and bustle (and the general muck of the city) we forget the beauty that surrounds us in this country. And what better way to explore a place as diverse as India than on a cycle?
There are a number of cycling trails sprinkled across the country that allows riders to soak up their surroundings and explore the gems located along the way. So, grab your helmets and pads and find the one closest to you.
I. Manali to Leh (via Rohtang Pass)
Duration: 12-14 days
This path is considered one of the most taxing and scenic ones in the country. Those planning to thread down this trail need to prepare and train themselves months in advance due to the high altitude, harsh weather conditions, sharp bends and unpredictable terrain that will come their way on the route.
Riding through the Rohtang and Tanglang La passes on the path, one cycles by snow-capped mountains and is rewarded for undertaking the strenuous journey with views of turquoise lakes, clear blue skies and ancient rock formations. The route goes through captivating meadows and forests Manali and lets one experience the unparalleled beauty of the valleys and the mesmerising cold desert of Ladakh. It is one of the highest passes of the world making the trip a challenging yet thrilling experience.
II. Rajasthan: City Tours
Duration: A day to a week depending upon the route
One can ride through the cities of Jaipur, Jodhpur, Udaipur and Pushkar to get a taste of the Rajasthani culture as a whole. The highways in the state which are situated along the desert are highly recommended for those looking for a surreal biking experience. The state is said to be an ideal destination for bikers especially in the months of October to March.
The state is said to be an ideal destination for bikers, especially in the months of October to March. The route consists of hills, flat lands and village roads that reflect the vibrant culture of the region with their colours. One also gets to experience the starry night sky and sand dunes which are said to be a feast for the eyes. The state has a lot offer for wildlife enthusiasts who can make their way to the Keoladeo Ghana National Park which hosts more than 360 species of birds or visit the Kaila Devi and Ranthambore National Parks. Tour and travel companies also arrange intercity biking journeys and programmes throughout the region.
You can book yourself a spot here.
III. Chennai to Pondicherry
Duration: 5-6 hours
This trail is lined with clean roads alongside beaches whose water that reflects the sun. The route is a treat for the senses, echoing with the sounds of waves crashing against the shore and providing the riders with views of the sun rising from and setting on the sea which are said to bring out the long lost poet in most.
The route starts from the East Coast Road in Chennai and the riders pass by the Olive Island and the ancient temple town of Mahabalipuram on the way which are ideal rest stops to catch one’s breath while taking full advantages of the experience these places have to offer. Pondicherry is one of the most cycle-friendly places in the country and one can not miss pedaling to its French Quarter, Aurobindo Ashram and Gourbert Market and get a whiff of the unique culture in this ex-colony that housed the French, Dutch, Portuguese and British powers in the past.
IV. Guwahati to Khasi Hills, Meghalaya
Duration: 8-9 hours
This route brings to the riders a unique cycling experience with its spectacular waterfalls, stunning ravines and and ages old root bridges. As on goes further down the path, the roads become emptier and are lined with clear streams and lush green meadows which are ideal for some green therapy.
The trail begins from Guwahati and leads one to Shillong which is known for its cleanliness and further down the road, one finally reaches the East Khasi Hills which are home to world famous waterfalls, sacred forests, artificial caves and other natural rock formations. This trip is also a great choice for those interested in taking a peek at the indigenous Khasi culture at a relaxed pace while enjoying the clear blue skies and rejuvenating in the natural hot springs of the region.
Duration: Varies depending upon the place of departure
This route is considered to be one of the best for cycling in the country and is a perfect one for those who hoping to take a trip down the eastern coast of India. It offers a range of unconventional and travel worthy locations to riders looking to have a varied experience during their journey.
The roads become clearer and emptier as one travels further south. The route is said to have an ample and strong presence of sunlight and wind but that doesn’t necessarily become an obstacle for riders while traversing on it. A trip down this path is said to be one that perfectly captures the coastal beauty of the country and is a fulfilling one with as one gets to explore medieval temples, sparkling beaches and national parks. It is an ideal getaway for those looking to escape the city-life for a bit.
VI. The Nilgiris
Duration: 6-7 days
The ride through these mountains that form the Western Ghat of the country is a popular one. Each year, more than 100 participants sign up for competitive cycling tours to this region and thread through it’s spectacular route. Even otherwise, the trail has quite a lot things to offer to those simply looking for some thrill and adventure.
The route starts in the city of Bengaluru, from where it continues through beautiful roads that lead one into the states of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala respectively. The undulating roads provide the riders with an unceasing view of the Nilgiris. This isn’t your typical bicycle ride through the city and people are advised to have some experience before undertaking this path because of the presence of rough terrain, high altitudes, steep inclines throughout. The region is famous amongst wildlife enthusiasts, backpackers and campers of the country.
You can sign up for this experience here.
VII. Zanskar Trail
Duration: 2-3 weeks
This is one of the hardest trails to traverse on in the country and can only be threaded on by individuals having a high level of skill and endurance. This route is one of the few that is not available to people throughout the year because of the weather and can be used in during the month of July till early September. It is a fully packed adventure for the thrill-seeking.
The route starts in Kargil continuing up to Rangdam after which one needs to cross the Pensi and Shingo passes to ascend gradually until they arrive a place called Dharja. There are rumours about the government building a highway from Kargil to Padam which will make the journey a little less gruelling in comparison. The route is lined with dhabhas and homestays but one needs to be prepared to camp out on certain occasions. The bumpy roads and rough terrain on the route along with unavailability of proper network along the route can be very challenging but view of the looming Himalayan mountain ranges makes one forget about such struggles and riders are rewarded with sense of accomplishment after completing this journey.
You can be a part of the adventure here.
VIII. Kalimpong to Zuluk
Duration: 6 to 7 hours
This is a trail is for those looking to overcome challenges and and experiencing the country’s legendary past . This path is a part of the Old Silk Route that was a thriving site of world trade and connectivity once upon a time. The ride to the region is said to be a tough but nevertheless, an inspiring one.
One comes across diverse cultures while riding through the path because of the dynamic past of the area. The route starts at Kalimpong, a quiet hill station on the foothills of the Himalayas and continues upto the Zuluk, a hamlet located near the Indo-China border. While the region is not travelled to by most individuals because of its rough terrain and dangerous loops, it is one of great historical importance and scenic beauty . The trail provides the riders with the stunning view of the northern mountain range and its deep pine forests, medieval ruins and also offers a range of unique homestay options for those looking to put their feet up for a bit.
IX. Mangalore to Goa
Duration: 1 to 1 and a half day
This is a perfect ride for those wishing for some time along the sea. The journey down this route guarantees a diverse cultural experience to the riders due to it covering the huge expanse of the Western Ghats. The Maravanthe beach and River Suparnika on either side of the route are credited for its breathtaking view.
The route starts in Mangalore, where one has to make their way to National Highway-66 which leads them all the way to Goa. One passes by the magnificent Dudhsagar falls and St. Mary’s Island which is home to the unique rock formations. Riders can also make a stop at the temple town of Gokarna and travel back to the medieval era or get a taste Goan culture at the villages on the way. The highway is also connected to several national parks and beaches for those more interested in relaxing outdoors or in the lap of nature. The journey along the coastline has something to offer for everyone.
X. Shillong to Cherrapunjee
Duration: 4-5 hours
This route is a must for everyone who is in love with bicycling.The journey on this path is very different from bicycle rides in any other part of the country because its eccentric location. One is compensated for the physically taxing journey due to the challenging terrain by the scenic beauty around.
The ride on this route is a unique experience because while most of it is located on a hilly terrain, it has mountains and a valley on its either sides. The trail begins in Shillong, the capital of Meghalaya which is deemed to be one of the cleanest town of the country and ends at the wettest place in the world, Cherrapungee. The road becomes emptier as one goes further and provides riders with a breathtaking view of the Himalayas and has frequents spells of rain or drizzling. The path also offers a stunning picture of clear lakes and lush green forest beneath it.
Representational feature image: Eddy Lackmann via Unsplash Image Bank.
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