On The Road: The Best Winter Bike Road Trip Routes In India

These spectacular winter road trip routes capture the spirit of exploration, cultural immersion, and the sheer joy of riding through India's breathtaking scenery
Travel along the best winter bike road trip routes
Travel along the best winter bike road trip routesShutterstock

With its diverse terrain and rich cultural heritage, India unfolds a captivating winter landscape that is every biker's dream come true. As we embark on this thrilling excursion, come on a virtual tour with us as we travel along the best winter bike road trip routes that beckon adventure enthusiasts. From the majestic Himalayas to the tranquil coastal roads, each journey promises not just an adrenaline rush but an immersive experience into the heart of India's natural and cultural attractions.

Manali to Leh

Route: Manali - Rohtang Pass - Keylong - Jispa - Sarchu - Tanglang La - Upshi - Leh

Biker in Leh, Ladakh
Biker in Leh, Ladakh Shutterstock

The Manali-Leh highway stretches approximately 470 kilometres and takes you through a series of high-altitude passes, remote valleys, and stunning landscapes. The journey usually takes 2 to 3 days, depending on your pace and weather conditions. The route is closed most of the year due to heavy snowfall and reopens its gates to travellers in late spring. Winter journeys on this route offer a unique experience with frozen rivers, snow-capped summits, and calm, serene landscapes.

Although the rewards of this road trip are immeasurable, it is not recommended for the faint-hearted. Extra permits may be required for some particular monasteries, villages, or military-sensitive areas. Always inquire with local authorities or tour companies about the latest permit requirements to guarantee a smooth, hassle-free road trip from Manali to Leh.

Given the high altitudes and challenging terrain, it's crucial to be well-prepared. Acclimatisation to high altitudes is essential to avoid altitude sickness. Riders often spend a couple of days in Manali for this purpose.

Guwahati to Tawang

Route: Guwahati - Nagaon - Tezpur - Balipara - Bhalukpong - Bomdila - Dirang - Tawang

A biker in Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh
A biker in Tawang, Arunachal PradeshShutterstock

The road from Guwahati to Tawang, which stretches over almost 500 km, is a less travelled route. Renowned for being the gateway to the Northeast, Guwahati in Assam is positioned between the Shillong Plateau and the Brahmaputra River. This road adventure culminates in Tawang, famous for its Buddhist monasteries and jaw-dropping surroundings.

While travelling on your bike, you will witness the panoramic vistas of India's winter scenery and a lengthy stretch of snow-covered mountains. Tawang's verdant valleys contrast nicely with the white-flocked houses and trees.

The rugged, snow-covered roads, tight turns combined with the stunning scenery make the bike adventure even more unforgettable.

Mumbai to Gokarna

Route: Mumbai - Goa - Gokarna

Beach in Gokarna
Beach in GokarnaShutterstock

Goa and Gokarna are two must-visit destinations in India. Surrounded by golden sand beaches with views of the sun rising and setting, they attract tourists throughout the year. Road trips from Mumbai to Goa are quite popular among travellers, and the excitement further magnifies if you continue on to Gokarna. Enjoying the pleasant breeze in the air and observing the views of the coconut and palm trees along the beaches make for the ideal road trip experience.

Covering a distance of approximately 700 km, the route follows National Highway 66, passing through beautiful coastal towns. After spending time on the famously frenzied beaches of Goa, Gokarna is a  laid-back beach town, far less commercialised than Goa. Its key beaches are  Om Beach, Kudle Beach, and Half Moon Beach, known for their serene beauty and relaxed atmosphere. While here, please visit the Mahabaleshwar Temple, an important pilgrimage site.

Sonmarg to Gulmarg

Route: Sonmarg -  Srinagar - Gulmarg

A biker en route to Gulmarg, Sonmarg
A biker en route to Gulmarg, SonmargShutterstock

Whether it is summer or winter, Kashmir is a wonderland. While the verdant surroundings attract vacationers in the summer, people are still lured to this winter wonderland even when everything is frozen. The road trip from Sonmarg to Gulmarg is a mesmerising journey through the heart of Kashmir, often referred to as "Paradise on Earth" due to its stunning natural beauty. This road trip is particularly picturesque during the winter, offering captivating views of the majestic snowclad peaks of the Himalayas and passing across the Srinagar-Ladakh highway.

The distance between Sonmarg and Gulmarg is approximately 123 km and typically takes between 3.5 to 4 hours, depending on the weather. Along the way, you will follow the course of the beautiful Sindh River, make a brief halt at Manasbal Lake in Ganderbal, stop by for apple picking at Tangmarg, and take in the beauty of the Jhelum River in Baramulla.

Narkanda to Sangla

Route: Narkanda -  Rampur Bushahr - Jhakri - Wangtu - Karcham - Sangla

An abandoned car in Narkand
An abandoned car in NarkandShutterstock

One of the lesser travelled road trips, Narkanda to Sangla, is among India's best wintertime bike excursions. Narkanda, 65 kilometres from Shimla, is surrounded by lush forests dusted with powdery snow throughout winter. Sangla is a town situated in Kinnaur Valley. It is nestled on the right side of the Baspa River and offers breathtaking views of Kinner Kailash Peak. The road trip from Narkanda to Sangla is a journey that encapsulates the essence of Himachal Pradesh's natural beauty, taking you through a diverse landscape of lush valleys, apple orchards, and picturesque hamlets.

This less-travelled path offers stunning scenery, and the snow transforms it into a white paradise. The trees blanketed with glittery-white snow and the picturesque vistas of the valley make this road trip even more unforgettable.

Whether it is apple picking at one of the orchards, a drive along the Baspa River, or a halt at one of the temples along the road, this journey stays with you long after it's over, with memories of serene landscapes and the gentle rhythm of life in the mountains.

Jammu to Aharbal

Route: Jammu - Anantnag - Aharbal

Road to Aharbal Valley, Jammu
Road to Aharbal Valley, JammuShutterstock

The Jammu-Anantnag-Aharbal trip is a once-in-a-lifetime and unforgettable winter road trip. The sight of snow-capped mountains throughout the ride is breathtaking. You can visit the neighbouring villages if you're interested in learning more about the local life.

This is also your opportunity to interact with Indian Army troops and learn about their methods of working in the mountainous areas. Aharbal, where the road trip ends, is an excellent spot with snow-filled lakes and ice waterfalls. The Aharbal Waterfall, known as the “Niagara of Kashmir”, is the perfect place for a serene picnic in the lap of nature.

Gangtok to Zuluk

Route: Gangtok - Tsomgo Lake - Nathula Pass - Baba Mandir - Kupup - Nathang Valley - Zuluk

Zig-zag roads in Zuluk
Zig-zag roads in ZulukShutterstock

Last but not least is the legendary Zuluk loops. The road trip from Gangtok to Zuluk is an exhilarating journey through the Eastern Himalayas, filled with stunning landscapes, high-altitude lakes, and historic sites. This route, also known as the Silk Route, is renowned for its strategic importance and breathtaking beauty.

Tsomgo Lake, situated at an altitude of 12,400 ft, this glacial lake is a sight to behold. The lake is considered sacred and reflects different colours with changing seasons.

The road trip from Gangtok to Zuluk offers 96 turns of adventure, making it one of the top road trips in India for adventure lovers in December. Bring candy and lemons, and give yourself time to acclimatise to prevent motion and altitude sickness.

Related Stories

No stories found.
Outlook Traveller