Social Distancing Travel | 29 Motorcycle Rides from India’s Capitals
Taking one’s bike for a smooth spin out of town has been off the books for a while, but as states gradually look to open up in the coming months, we’ve mapped out a few easy day trips from 29 Indian capitals. All the rides are less than 150 kilometres one-way and lead to remote areas where social distancing is an easier task, allowing you and your ride to enjoy some stress-free fresh air. These aren’t arduous journeys, just simple jaunts that take riders through hill country, forests, natural wonders, and lakes, and help riders stretch their legs when the opportunity allows.
Remember to pack a sandwich for a nice picnic when you arrive at your destination, and by the time you return home, you’ll be right on time for afternoon tea.
Bengaluru to Nandi Hills (65 kilometres)
For weekend warriors Nandi Hills is easily the most popular morning motorcycle ride for Bangaloreans. Of course, there are other great options a little further outside the city, such as Biligiriranga Hills and Bheemeshwari, but Nandi Hills is the perfect first ride after the lockdown eases up. Early in the morning, ease along an empty highway, until you hit the last 20 per cent of the ride, where you can enjoy the twisties in the hills as the sun rises.
Mumbai to Lonavala (80 kilometres)
Open up your bike on the old Mumbai-Pune highway (two-wheelers are not allowed on the new Mumbai-Pune Expressway), pacing through lush environs once you pass into the ghats. Although interaction should be kept at a minimum, picking up some fresh fruit on the ghat roads outside of Lonavala should be an uncrowded endeavour that promises a delicious reward.
Delhi to Garhmukteshwar (110 kilometres)
While this trip is not as stunning as other longer rides outside of Delhi, riding along the Ganges in the early summer when there are Gangetic dolphin sightings makes this ride unique. Riders should make a point to stop at uncrowded sections of the river’s banks to see if they can spot any of these majestic creatures.
Chennai to Pulicat (55 kilometres)
This quick ride from Chennai to Pulicat takes riders to a beautiful lake, which depending on the season, is filled with a variety of migratory birds. Enjoy zipping around country roads adjacent to the lake, but avoid taking a boat around the lake or to the barrier island called Sriharikota as a part of social distancing.
Kolkata to Piyali Island (70 kilometres)
Known fondly as “the gateway to the Sunderbans,” Piyali Island is a great motorcycle trip out of the city, though it is highly recommended to get an early start out of the city as to not get caught in traffic jams on your way back. A bridge connects the island to the mainland, so riders don’t have to worry about coming in close contact with others on boats. Enjoy the greenery, loads of birds, and perhaps spot a crocodile.
Jaipur to Sambhar Salt Lake (85 kilometres)
This huge inland saltwater lake is the perfect place to do some remote trailblazing when the ground is nice and dry. Riders have free reign to enjoy a wide expanse of mud bashing all to themselves.
Trivandrum to Varkala (40 kilometres)
This short ride takes you along a beautiful snippet of Kerala’s coast to one of India’s best beaches, located below the cliffs of Varkala. After a stunning ride, find an empty section of the beach to take a refreshing dip.
Shilling to Dawki (80 kilometres)
Let your bike rumble through pastoral vistas as you make your way to the azure waters of Dawki. Avoid renting a boat and touristy pockets of the water, and instead find a calm place to take a quick dip before heading back.
Leh to Alchi (65 kilometres)
In the valley of the Indus River lies Alchi, a picturesque Himalayan village. Forgo walking around the village, and instead enjoy the desolate mountain faces framing the sparkling river winding through them.
Hyderabad to Ananthagiri Hills (80 kilometres)
Drive through fluffy clouds on your way to Ananthagiri Hills. Dense flora and a smattering of fauna make up the route, along with luscious coffee plantations. If you make good time on the ride up, you may have time for a quick hike before returning back to Hyderabad.
Shimla to Thanedar (75 kilometres)
Ride the cool, winding roads into Thanedar, the heart of Himachali apple country. Zip past ambling orchards full of Red Delicious apples, and enjoy clear skies cut by the jagged outlines of snow-capped peaks.
Itanagar to Ziro Valley (115 kilometres)
Glide through pine forests, idyllic villages, and striking landscapes on the way to the quaint Ziro Valley, a World Heritage Site where the Apatani tribe resides. Given the area’s terrain, even nearby rides like this one take much longer than expected, so heading to Ziro and back is a testing ride that can take up to four hours one way, even if the distance seems minimal.
Patna to Rajgir (95 kilometres)
Hit the road to Griddhakuta Peak, also known as Vulture Peak, and enjoy the roads as traffic winds down near Rajgir. Avoid taking the ropeway to Vishwa Shanti Stupa even though it is a single seater, as you may run into some crowds, as well as taking the walk up to Vulture Peak when there are pilgrims about. Instead, cruise the area for good vantage points to enjoy the beauty of the surrounding area unimpeded by crowds.
Raipur to Sirpur (85 kilometres)
This sleepy town nestled next to the Mahana River is not only full of Vedic architectural marvels, but also some nice country roads you can ride all to yourself. Some of the roads on the outskirts of the town are almost like single tracks, passing chillies left out to dry, feisty roosters, and not much else.
Panjim to Aldeias de Salcete (40 kilometres)
Head south from the capital to Aldeias de Salcete and prepare for typical highway driving that eases up after Margao. Soon you’ll arrive at a warren of beautiful bylanes featuring paint- chipped manors and sprawling paddy fields. This is a great ride for those who just want to cruise around.
Chandigarh (Haryana) to Morni Hills (30 kilometres)
This quick and gorgeous ride to Morni Hills, part of the Shivalik Hills, offers riders some nice twists and turns tucked into plenty of greenery. If you’re still revving for more of a ride once you arrive at Morni Hills, coast along the small roads to hug the towering terrace farms while exploring the foothills.
Chandigarh (Punjab) to Nangal (100 kilometres)
Once you get close to Nangal, the ride becomes a relaxing escape as you wind through empty roads that are paved relatively well. Catch sight of wetlands filled with wildlife and make sure to check out the imposing Bhakra Nangal Dam built on the Sutlej River.
Aizawl to Reiek (30 kilometres)
Even at such a short distance away, this trip will take riders around an hour to get to Reiek, a beautiful small town, as the roads are rather bumpy. The route is absolutely brimming with greenery. At Reiek, riders can park and hike up to Reiek Peak which promises views into Bangladesh on a clear day.
Srinagar to Drung (Tangmarg; 40 kilometres)
Ride through deep forest roads to Drung, where a babbling stream awaits in pristine nature. A few people still fish in these waters, enjoying the solitude and fresh air.
Ranchi to Jonha Falls (40 kilometres)
The road to the falls is decent and relatively straight, offering riders an easy toodle into the countryside.
Bhopal to Amargarh (105 kilometres)
While Amargarh is an area only known to most for its waterfall, the surrounding area has a network of trails for those keen on taking their bikes off road. Some sections of the trails can get a bit rocky, so best to set out with a bike that’s powerful and has plenty of clearance.
Imphal to Loktak Lake (50 kolimetres)
Enjoy a smashing time as you ride through perfectly blessed pastoral landscapes painted with paddy fields, rustic villages, and sacred forests. Once you reach Loktak Lake, feast your eyes on northeast India’s largest freshwater lake, decorated with intricate and lush phumdis, a filigree of floating islands endemic to the water body.
Kohima to Chumukedima (70 kilometres)
The road to Chumukedima, a verdant hill station outside of Dimapur, is super well-paved at some sections, and strikingly muddy and rough in other parts, so knobby tires are a nice addition to the ride, though not necessary. The vast majority of the ride has riders wind through dense forest land.
Bhubaneswar to Chilika Lake (95 kilometres)
After a bit of highway driving, pass through Puri Beach, also known as Golden Beach, and enjoy the drive along the coast. Head on to Chilika Lake, which is considered to be India’s largest lagoon, a waterbody often dotted with a wide variety of birds.
Gangtok to Zuluk (90 kilometres)
While Gangtok has many convenient day trip options, like the sparkling glacial Tsomgo Lake, the 32 hairpin bends that twist along the mountain leading to the hamlet of Zuluk give riders the opportunity to take advantage of a really fun ride.
Agartala to Amarpur (75 kilometres)
Ride out to one of the most picturesque picnic spots in all of Tripura. After a straightforward ride, with nice nature sections towards the end, eat a snack on the shoreline and be at peace. Be wary of taking heavy bikes across old bamboo bridges around Amarpur.
Lucknow to Bithoor (115 kilometres)
Although some sections of the highway can be a tad rough, the route to Bithoor, a small township on the banks of the Ganga, is a solid ride. While the ancient pilgrimage site can get a tad crowded, there are plenty of areas to enjoy the setting without coming into contact with many visitors.
Dehradun to Dhanaulti (40 kilometres)
This route will you leave slack-jawed as you and your bike are enveloped in a velvety tower of deodar trees on the winding road to one of the region’s smallest hill stations. While the area has many adventure attractions, those looking for their slice of solitude should check out some of the short hiking trails in the area.
Gandhinagar to Kanjari Deer Park (45 kilometres)
The ride to this deer park involves typical highway driving until riders pass Thol, when the traffic eases up quite a bit. Even when the deer park is closed, there are grazing grounds that can be seen from the rode. Riders can jump off the saddle and watch dozens of deer frolic about.
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