How about discovering India and its beauty while cycling amidst green valleys, historical monuments as well as colossal mountains? Cycling is a sport as well as the best mode of transport to discover a city or a town. There are extensive routes in India that cyclists can take irrespective of whether they are a beginner or a pro. The experience leaves you refreshed and you bring back home tonnes of memories and a sense of achievement. So get prepared with your cycling gear as we are going to look at the top 10 cycling destinations in India.
1. Manali to Leh –It is the most awe-inspiring path to cycle in India, jacketing the range of Himalayas, from Himachal’s valleys to Ladakh’s bare mountain passes. The route is for medium to advanced cyclists. Cyclists need suitable training of at least two weeks to take up this arduous journey on the altitudes. While cycling on this route, you may experience slight air, hairpin bends, persistent climbs, harsh climate and random terrain. Thus, it is considered as an expert cyclist’s route. However, it is not just the demanding journey, the joy of cycling through clear blue skies and the incredible rock formations will be the incentive. Travelling through the well-known Rohtang and Tanglang La passes takes the cyclists closer to the snow-capped mountains. Also, the journey through Rumtse, which is a tiny picturesque village inside the Ladakh Valley, is beautiful. With an impressive landscape, the Manali to Leh route is no doubt one of the favourites among the cyclists in India. Anyone planning for a cycling trip there is advised to go in the month of September as the monsoon gets over by that time and the roads are easier to pass through. On this spectacular route, cyclists come across the best ranges of India, particularly Rohtang La (3950m), Pir Panjal Range, Baralacha La (5000m), the Great Himalayas and Nakeela, (5000m), and Lachulung La (5150m) and Taglang La (5300m), the Zanskar Range.
2. Gangtok to Darjeeling – If you are not yet ready for a long and extensive cycling trip but do need a feel of it, then this route will just work for you. This is a moderately difficult journey where there are steep roads. It goes through villages and towns, giving you ample time to take some rest in between and recover yourself, eventually getting back to discovering the place while cycling. Rocky terrain, thin air and uphill climbs are the chief challenges on this route. However, extraordinary views, greenery and the Himalayan mountains make you forget the arduous journey. The road from Gangtok to Darjeeling is sprinkled with tea estates and monasteries and this certainly makes the route incredible. Speeding downhill must be avoided on this route.
3. Kumaon – It is a preferred destination for cyclists due to the beautiful and well-tarred roads on the hills. The picturesque hills of Kumaon and multiplicity of landscape attract cyclists from all over India. Riding through the flat valleys in the Almora District of the Kumaon Himalayas, cyclists discover the beauty of the lower Himalayas in the Kumaon region on the quaint rural roads, where traffic is least. Splendid view of Himalayas, attractive villages and lush forests can be explored on this route and the added bonus is friendly village people whom you can interact with. Also called the Land of Gods (Dev Bhumi), because of the significant temples found here, Kumaon is considered a place that offers rich cycling experience.
4. Pune to Panshet Dam via Sinhagarh – This route is indeed one of the best routes for cyclists in India. It involves ascending towards the Sinhagarh fort. On the other hand, it provides a pleasant view of Panshet Dam all the way through. On both sides of the journey, you can see the spectacular commingling of blue and blue-green water. On the final climb to the hill towards the dam, you have a feeling of being surrounded by the backwaters of the dam. Clear water and gently mist covered hills all around make it a delight for cyclists. This route is also good for amateur cyclists. The best time to go on this route is monsoon. However, December-February is also considered a good time for cycling.
5. Mysore to Ooty via Bandipur – This cycling route has a number of experiences to offer in a single day, hence an enthralling one. The smooth stretch outside Mysore gets more interesting as you reach near the Bandipur Tiger Reserve. Cycling through the teak and sandalwood trees in a narrow passageway-kind path make you feel like you are being peeked at by elephants, deer, peacocks or even tigers. Hairpin bends and a steep climb leading to Ooty offer awe-inspiring view of the forest beneath. Enriched with variety of flora and fauna, this route offers an amazing experience.
6. Mangalore to Goa – This route is ideal for those cyclists who want to have a relaxed tour and enjoy the breathtaking view on the bicycle track. The flat surface makes the journey easy with a bonus of quaint view of the country’s west coast. The NH17 is the straight route to Goa from Mangalore. The straight road doesn’t let the cyclists lose their way. Towns on the way include Kaup, Udupi, Bhatkal, Karwar and Gokarna. There are a number of things to explore on this ride and cyclists can choose from waterfalls to beaches to national parks. Though the roads are direct, the cyclists must remain careful about the speeding traffic as it is a highway road. Cycling through the coast makes this route enjoyable. Maravanthe beach is the place where cyclists can stop for a break and entice their senses seeing the waves in the Arabian Sea.
7. Kochi to Alleppey – Kerala is famous for its backwaters and there are many ways to explore that. Cycling is a wonderful way to relax and enjoy at the same time. Beginning from Fort Kochi, the finest route to Alleppey is via Marari Beach. On this journey, cyclists pass by the backwaters and some small, fishing villages, along with multihued towns, dealing primarily in coconut-husk products business. Tall coconut trees all around make it a picturesque ride.
8. Chennai to Puducherry – From Chennai, cyclists take the East Coast Road, where they can even stop for a breather at Olive Island in Muttukadu or Kovalam Beach. What better way can be there to fill up your stomach than by an appetizing French meal! After that, Mahabalipuram and its beautiful sculpted temples , the French Quarter, Aurobindo Ashram and the Goubert Market can be explored while cycling. The weather might turn humid; therefore, it is always helpful for cyclists to carry water.
9. Munnar –Munnar is a route that is generally preferred by cyclists. The off-beaten track takes you near nature. On this route, cyclists pass through the lush green Madupatty tea estate. The route includes cycling around 14 kms from Munnar to Madupatty and then from there to Kundala, which is also an attractive place. Stopping by the dam here is quite refreshing. Next on the way is Anamudi Chola, which is an impressive hill near the well-known Anamudi National Park. The route from here is Anamudi – Perumala – Kanthalloor. It is between Munnar and the Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary. Beauteous views of the tea estates and alluring aromas of sandalwood are the perks of this route.
10. Rajasthan – This cycling tour can be as short as a day’s or as long as a week’s. This route provides cyclists with flatlands, colourful village roads and hills. It is preferred to take this route from October to March. An extra dose of Indian culture and ethnicity can be experienced while cruising on your bicycles through Jodhpur, Jaipur, Udaipur and Pushkar. Cyclists who are eager to watch wildlife may cycle through the Keoladeo Ghana National Park, which consists of over 360 species of birds. Next is the the Kaila Devi National Park near Karauli, which can be seen while cycling towards Ranthambore National Park. Don’t be surprised if you spot a tiger!
India is a place that has beauty in abundance. The aforementioned places are a proof to that. Besides these top 10 cycling destinations, even Delhi and Agra are good places to explore historic monuments. Riding past monuments like the famous Red Fort, India Gate, Jama Masjid and Rashtrapati Bhawan is an experience in itself. Apart from this, NH2 can lead the cyclists to Agra where Agra Fort and the most famous and one of the seven wonders of the world, the Taj Mahal, can be explored. Cruising through the traffic and crowds is what you would need to learn!