Bucket list these lesser-known road trip destinations to explore with your squad this Friendship Day
There is no better sense of freedom than going on a fun road trip, and who better to share it with, but your best buddies? The past year in lockdown has kept many of us cooped up at home, with no escape or chance to reconnect with our squad and create some amazing memories. Furthermore, according to ‘Back to Travel’ research by Booking.com, 68%* of Indian travellers stated that not being able to travel extensively in 2020 has made them yearn for travel even more in 2021.
As an ode to Friendship Day, Booking.com has curated a list of road trips to lesser-known destinations perfect for you and your gang. Take your masks, create your favorite playlist, and hit the road for a fun and memorable road trip with your friends, when it is safe to do so!
Mumbai to Tiracol
Take a lesser-explored road with your friends as you travel from Mumbai to Tiracol, a small quaint village near River Terekhol enjoying the scenic coastal drive which passes through the Mahasagari Marg (Maharashtra State’s Coastal Highway). En route you will also pass by some beautiful destinations like Alibaug, Ratnagiri, Tarkali, offering some breathtaking sea views. Roll down your windows to let in the cool breeze and seaside aroma set the right vibe. The ride is long, but along the way you will find ample dhabas serving authentic Maharashtrian food. As you pass through the ghats, make the most of the drive with a carpool karaoke to celebrate your friendship.
Delhi to Badkhal
For Delhiites looking for a brief getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city, Badkhal, a village located around Faridabad is 57.7 km from Delhi and is a perfect destination for a road trip with your friends. The quickest route is through Mahatma Gandhi Marg though travellers might have to consider the local state Covid restrictions to ensure a hassle-free journey. While the landscape on the route is rather urban, once you have reached Badkhal, you can get ready to soak in the wilderness. Badkhal has a lake which is a quiet and uncrowded camping spot where you can sit back with your friends and reminisce about your old memories. Light a bonfire and spend quality time with the gang around the lake or indulge in adventure sports like boat rides, kayaking, and trekking in the surrounding area.
Kolkata to Mandarmani
West Bengal has an array of lesser-explored wonders, and Mandarmani, a seaside village, is one of them. If you and your friends are seeking a relaxing getaway, Mandarmani is among the top endorsed destinations for relaxation by Indian travellers on Booking.com. Starting from Kolkata, the 180 kms route to Mandarmani is quite interesting as you get to see the wonderful scenery of rural Bengal. There are quite a few good accommodation options in Mandarmani for you to choose from depending on the budget. And if you and your friends are in the mood for some adventure go for a jet ski ride, banana boat ride and parachute ride along the beach.
Chennai to Yelagiri
A particular favourite among bikers is the route from Chennai to Yelagiri, a small hill station in Tamil Nadu where travellers can reach through two routes – either via Kanchipuram or Vellore. Both routes are known for their nature trails with lush greenery, waterfalls, and especially hills, that are popular among the trekkers in India. The route does test your riding skills with the number of hairpin bends along the way, so in case not everyone is a skilled biker, consider carpooling there instead, for safety reasons. Once you reach Yelagiri, enjoy the natural scenic beauty in the company of your friends or spend some time in the midst of hills and the most beautiful man-made lake, the Punganoor lake.
Bengaluru to Mandaragiri Betta
If a short road trip to an offbeat destination from Bengaluru is what you are looking for, then Mandara Giri Hills or Mandaragiri Betta is a mere 60 km away and one of the best bets one would take. Pack your bags and hit the road along with your friends to Mandaragiri Betta, a small hillock in the Tumkur district of Karnataka with well-maintained roads, so the ride is pleasant and takes you through several green patches. Once you reach Mandaragiri Betta, you can indulge in authentic Kannada-style food and also visit one of the most eye-catching structures, called Digambar Jain Heritage center. This hall resembles a peacock feather with a simple idol of the saint in the middle and is ideal for meditation after a tiring trip. The aesthetic beauty of the hall also makes for an Instagram-worthy picture that you can store as a beautiful memory with your buddies.
Ahmedabad to Tanot
If you are looking for an adventurous road trip with your friends, opt for a road trip through the uncluttered route from Ahmedabad to Tanot, nestled in the quaint village of Jaisalmer. A 657 kms drive into the Thar desert, this route is a good 12 hours from Ahmedabad. Along the way, you will pass through some beautiful towns and villages of Tharad, Barmer, Jaisalmer, and Ramgarh where you can experience some local culture. Passing through the Thar desert while watching the sunlight hit the sand dunes is a great sight to cherish. And once you reach the destination, enjoy some local cuisine and delicious dairy options that Tanot has to offer. The Tanot Mata mandir is a must-visit destination located close to Longewala border post in Rajasthan which was the battle site of the India-Pakistan war of 1971.
Darjeeling to Pelling
Nothing brings out Darjeeling’s blooming beauty more than a road trip to Pelling. At 74kms from Darjeeling, you get to pass through small villages catching glimpses of the monasteries and abundant waterfalls. The four hours of the journey feel like heaven and even more when you drive through the hills and lush tea gardens. If you and your friends need to take a break to refresh, there are small tea shops along the way that serve warm and delicious tea. Pelling, a beautiful hill station that lies in the foothills of Mount Khangchendzonga, has many places for your squad to explore in a day. Make a wish for a never-ending friendship at Khecheopalri Lake, which is locally considered to be the one that fulfills your wish. You can also go for a picnic at the Sewaro Rock Garden when it is safe to do so, or simply take a walk on the Pelling Skywalk but make sure to buy your friends some souvenirs from the local bazaar.
*Research commissioned by Booking.com and conducted among a sample of adults who are planning to travel in the next 12 months. In total 28,042 respondents across 28 countries, including India. Respondents completed an online survey in January 2021.