It is one thing to use a bike to commute and an absolutely another thing to use it for travelling. Commuting is a necessity while travelling is pure and simple liberty. Bikers are a different breed; their bikes are not just a means of conveyance but an extension of their passion for speed. Long unending roads are a biker’s friend, if given a choice they wouldn’t mind biking up to the globe’s end. So, it doesn’t come as a surprise if their holidays unfold into an exotic bike ride.
It is needless to say, that the far-flung reaches of our country have riveting highways that take bikers on a journey that is thrilling as well as fulfilling. For these journeys are not just about traversing challenging landscapes, it also enables you to discover places at your own pace. The road becomes your travelling guide and the sights your travelling companion; travelling by bike is one hell of a holiday experience.
So, we picked out a few routes that are a must try if you are a fan of the humble bike or maybe not! But once you get the hang of it your biking trips may never know the word “stop”.
Manali to Ladakh
Who hasn’t heard of the wonders of Ladakh? Imagine riding through the endless lines of hills, weathered valleys, snow-covered peaks, winding roads and vast stretches of unclaimed untouched expanse; that’s Ladakh for you. Situated between the Karakoram range and the Himalayan range, Ladakh offers a wide spectrum of landscapes to explore. The biker travelling from Manali passes through the picturesque Rohtang pass on to the road along the rivers Chandra and Bhaga. Then, from Siracha one crosses the famous 22 Gata Loops of the Manali-Leh Highway and the Tanglang Pass, the second highest motorable pass in the world to reach Leh. From Leh one proceeds to Khardungla Pass, the highest motorable pass in the world. Once in Leh, the options to explore are plentiful. Tibetan monasteries like the famous Namgyal Monastery, the 17th century Royal Leh Palace, the fascinating magnetic hills, the 134 km long lake Pangong tso one of the highest salt water lakes in the world; bike rides couldn’t be more enthralling than this one!
Manali to Spiti Valley
To the north-east of Himachal Pradesh lies the Spiti Valley. The valley is a mesmerizing play of greenery to barren mountains to greenery again in terms of its landscape. The journey starts from Manali along the Beas river up to the Tirthan valley. From there one crosses the steep and tricky yet magnificent Deodhar tree studded Jalori pass on to the famous Hindustan-Tibet highway along the Sutlej river. Arrive at the small town of Kalpa known for its Kinnaur apples and a spectacular view of the holy Kinner Kailash mountain. Thereafter, a few demanding dirt tracks and some water crossings later arrives the Spiti Valley. In no time does the landscape transform from all that greenery to rocky and then barren. Halt at the beautiful Nako village by the lake Nako in order to visit the nearby Tabo Monastery famous for its frescos and stucco paintings and the Dhankar Monastery one of the highest monasteries in the world. The capital of Spiti valley, Kaza houses the highest altitude villages in the world to be populated throughout the year namely Hikkim (14,400 feet) and Komic (14,830 feet). Hikkim is known to have the highest Post office in the world where travellers post letters to their families as souvenirs. Moving further ahead one crosses the Kunzun La pass which provides a magnificent view of the Chandra-Bhaga range of mountains. A hike to tranquilizing blue Chandra Tal lake and stopover at its campsite is a must. Then comes the amazing sight of the Bara Sigri glacier before one hits the Manali-Leh highway. At Tandi, the barren landscape turns back to lush green and then comes the picturesque Rohtang pass with all its greenery and sporadic waterfalls. Upon descending the pass, the ride ends back at Manali. Phew! one bike track and so much to do!
Pollachi to Chalakudy
The route connecting Pollachi (Tamil Nadu) and Chelakudy (Kerala) is a biker’s delight. One of the best motorbike trails in South India, this route takes you through tropical rainforests and evergreen forests crossing many dams, waterfalls and verdant tea estates. Since, the route falls in the vicinity of Anaimalai Tiger Reserve and the Vazhachal forest reserve one may expect a few animals from the wild to cross your path. Pollachi is a small town in Coimbatore from where the journey begins. The Pollachi -Valparai road passes through the magnificent Azhiyar Dam which is best viewed from the ‘Loam’s view Point’. It is from the Azhiyar dam that the western ghats road starts. The bordering area of Valparai has Tea and Coffee plantations along with a beautiful settlement of the plantation workers. The Valparai -Athirapally passes through a dense forest of Kerala, the famous Athirapally falls and the Chalakuddy river. It is at Chalakuddy that the ride ends and one may begin the return journey to Pollachi.
Old silk route
The ancient silk route, also known as the world’s first information superhighway connected Asia, Europe and Africa. The silk route came from Lhasa (Tibet) and enters India in the Eastern region of Sikkim and then further proceeded to West Bengal. The bike expedition specifically follows this old route in the East Sikkim. Starting from Bagdodra proceed towards Reshikhola. From Reshikhola the next stoppage is Zuluk, which is an ideal place to get acclimatized to the upcoming expedition. The ride from Reshikhola to Zuluk is with the surrounding hills is a picturesque one. After crossing Zuluk and the 59-hairpin bends comes the Gnathang where one can get the best view of Zuluk from the Thambi View Point. Starting for Nathula pass, on the way comes the sunrise point near Gnathang from where the breathing taking view of the sun’s rays on Kangchenjunga can be seen. Then come the Nathula Pass and Tsomngo Lake and then Gangtok. Visit the nearby attractions like Lachen, Gurudongmar Lake, Lachung and the beautiful Yumthang valley while in Gangtok. Then back to bagdodra.
For a state as vast and varied as Rajasthan, a single expedition is not enough. Covering the important cities need proper planning of the routes and the places to be included for maximum coverage. So, here are a few best possible combination of cities for an exciting bike tour in Rajasthan. Some of the best biking routes are:
1) New Delhi – Mandawa – Bikaner- Jaisalmer- Jodhpur- Udaipur- Pushkar- Jaipur- Ranthambore- Agra – New Delhi.
2) Udaipur- Kumbhalgarh- Mount Abu Bike Tour.
3) Jaipur- Nagaur- Jodhpur- Ramdevra- Jaisalmer.
Bikers, we know are all set go! Non-Bikers just to let you know; if the idea excites you, you can give it a go! So what if you can’t ride, it never hurts to sit on pillion with a guide with a bike.