We live in a world where the estrangement towards concrete jungles is growing and travel has become a necessity rather than a luxury. With changing conceptions of almost every notion, travel has also taken an altered form. From relaxing holidays at popular destinations, travel has changed to being more exploratory in spirit especially to some unknown or lesser known serene locations.
One such exhilarating way to explore mother nature is cycling. The racing heartbeat, the need for speed in an uphill trail, the cycle zooming and rushing downhill, stiff wind against oneself, the moments captured through eyes, is all so breathtaking, quite literally. If cycling is a gamble, one can never lose. Without rambling any further, I cut to the chase and list some of the most spectacular cycling routes in India which surely are on my bucket list for 2019.
- Manali to Khardung La
Do I even need to talk about this?! Every avid and regular cyclist dreams of this. Dramatic mountains, changing landscapes, moody weather, you name it and this expedition has it. The showstopper of this cycling route is that one gets to cross 5 passes on this expedition. You also have to cross the 22-curve Gata Loops which get your head spinning. This exploration starts from Manali towards Khardung La through Marhi, Rohtang La, Jispa, Zing Zing Bar, Baralacha La, Nakee La, Lachung La, Taglang La and Leh. The rivers Chandra-Bhaga and Indus accompany you on this route. You will also get a panoramic view of pine and deodar trees. As one heads to Rohtang Pass, snow-covered mountains of Spiti valley welcomes you. Camping locations on this cycling expedition as so mesmerising that they will always seem like a figment of your imagination.
I did this expedition with Bikat Adventures. Their small batch size, well thought itinerary and non-negotiable safety norms can make this once in a lifetime experience pleasantly unforgettable.
Days 10-11 days
- Guwahati-Tawang-Bum La
This cycling route is spread in the Assam and Arunachal Pradesh states of India. It’s not nearly as well-known as the above-mentioned cycling route, and in this road less travelled one can witness nature in its natural form with minimal human intervention. The trail starts from Bhalukpong and moves towards Jamiri, Bomdila, Sangti, Senge, Jang and Tawang. Tropical forests, Alpine terrains, varied biodiversity, are all a part and parcel of this cycling expedition.
Days- 11 days
- Chennai to Pondicherry
This cycling route starts from Chennai and passes through Muttukadu, Mahabalipuram, Kalpakkam, and culminates at Pondicherry. This cycling expedition is an exploration of the Eastern Coast of India. The sparkling waters, swaying palms and historically significant temples can all be experienced in this route. Pondicherry, former French Colony is known for its aesthetically appealing architecture and a fusion of cultures. One side of the city still reminds of its colonial past whereas the other side highlights it’s Tamilian roots.
Days- 2-3 days
- Bangalore to Rameshwaram
Rameshwaram, a city known for its Hindu mythological roots is also a cyclist’s delight. Blue water flowing by one’s side, wide expanses of empty roads and unperturbed nature all seem like a dream come true. This cycling route is spread in the peninsular India. This route starts from Bangalore and ends at Rameshwaram via Dharmapuram, Salem and Madurai. One can also visit the ghost town Dhanushkodi, which is located on the tip of Pamban Island. Dhanushkodi is a living example of how ruins can be beautiful. It also tells the sad tales of human beings causing havoc to the planet.
Days- 4 days
- Udaipur to Rohet
All the other cycling routes boast of green pastures and vegetations but cycling in southern Rajasthan is altogether a different experience for its majestic sand dunes. The Rajasthani culture and cuisine celebrate the royal legacy. This regal hospitality makes your heart warm (partially high temperature is also the reason behind this). This cycling expedition starts from Udaipur, the city of Lakes. Entire chunk of the route is located in the picturesque Aravali Hills. This route passes through Kumbhalgarh, Jojawar, Kherwa and finishes at Rohet. Rohet marks the beginning of desert in this region and Kumbhalgarh fort is the second largest continuous wall after the Great Wall of China. One can spot deer, black buck and antelopes during their ride.
Days- 4-5 days
- Leh to Tso Moriri
This cycling expedition starts from Leh, which is a piece of heaven gifted to mankind, and ends at Tso Moriri Lake where the water is bluer than you’ve ever seen it. Tso Moriri is a high-altitude lake in Ladakh. It is a wholesome package where you get to see beautiful lakes, robust meadows and massive mountains. You can also acquaint yourself to the rich Ladakhi culture. This route passes through Karu, Hymia, Kesar, Sumdo, Namshang La and finally Karzok. Tso Moriri is a paradise for bird gazing, as one can sight bar headed geese, black necked crane, brown headed gulls and brahminy ducks.
Days- 6-7 days
India being the large and diverse country that it is, has plenty of options for almost everything and cycling is no exception to this. Claiming that these options are the only options worth traversing would be an injustice, but they surely are my favourite ones (not to mention quite diverse), catering to different capabilities and depending on the available time. Leave behind the noise of cars and bikes, strap on that helmet and prepare to scale newer heights.