Yes, you’re right. The title is borrowed from the famous poem written by Robert Frost. It is a beautiful poem with numerous life values. The reason why I borrowed the title is the similarity in the content, of both the poem and this blog. However, I am not here to journey the poem, but about some of the top off-roading destinations in India. Off-roading is an adventurous sport slowly gaining popularity in the country. Not many destinations are available in India for pure off-roading, but the ones that are available are worth it. Before going ahead with an off-roading trip, one must know each and every detail of the place they’re going to visit. It is better to leave no stones unturned before entering these wild roads. If you’re an adventurous, thrill-seeking individual, then do not miss any of the destinations given in this article.
- Little Rann of Kutch:
The Rann of Kutch which spreads over 16000 sq km is divided into two-the Little Rann and the Great Rann. Little Rann of Kutch is a large salt marsh situated in Gujarat. The terrain in the Little Rann is dusty, dry and arid for the most part and might not even look challenging at first. But it does throw up surprises in the form of marshy ruts, which under the dry surface hide clay mud that can make driving through these parts a challenge. This is one of the few places where the desert meets the sea. This place is known as the last refuge for the Indian wild ass (which are a delight to watch as they run alongside your vehicle) and also one of the few places where hundreds of harriers could be seen roosting on open-ground at night. The trail ends at Forest rest house situated near a seasonal pond which attracts various birds and wildlife. During night time one could hear the striped hyena’s call which sounds like someone’s laugh. One can experience the vastness of this white desert during a full moon night.
2. Zoji La Pass:
As you drive thru NH-1D from Srinagar which has breath-taking views of green mountains, some covered with snow, streams of water comes yet another exciting and adventurous pass, called as the Zoji La Pass. The pass is very narrow and hats off to the people who drive here. The pass is situated at such a great height, and with barely any road that you can call a road. It can get risky here especially if it’s cloudy. To add to it, there is hardly any fencing along. But all said and done, that’s what an adventurous road trip is all about. The view of the Amarnath yatra base camp from this pass is just awesome.
3. Gir Forest National Park, Route 2 – 6:
Among the list, this one could be your favourite off-roading trail. The route isn’t that challenging but will be an adventure when you confront an Asiatic lion. This is the last place where you could see this lion. But don’t let your excitement kill you. Stay in your vehicle during the whole trip. Gir also supports a large population of the leopards and is famed for having the largest concentration of carnivores. So now you’re in a 4×4 surrounded by all these animals. This is more of a relaxed off-roading trail, the one which is suitable for those who are not ardent fans of extreme off-roading.
If you love to drive on the rocks then Devarabetta is the best place for it. It is a small village in Thally Taluk in Krishnagiri District of Tamil Nadu. The place is 3 hours from Bengaluru. If you’re coming from Bengaluru, then you need to take the Pearl valley route and keep continuing straight. The roads are nothing to be worried about because you are on a 4×4. Remember only 4×4 is advised for this trip. The roads are narrower, but once you cross the Tamil Nadu border they become wider. You’ll reach the temple after travelling around 5-6Kms inside the village. The way to the top is very challenging and a normal vehicle is not going to scale it easily. Some off-roading customizations are necessary for climbing the rocks. This off-roading requires experience and a much powerful vehicle.
5. Bisle Ghats:
Some 34 Kms from Sakleshpur, you’ll discover an amazing place for off-roading, Bisle Ghats. The road to Bisle Ghats is surprisingly very good. The roads get narrower as you approach Bisle Ghats. At first, they look good like an exit ramp from a freeway, but after a while, it gets worse and you’ll pray to god that nothing happens to your 4×4. There are more than 15 waterfalls along the route. In fact, at one point the road gets converted into a passage for the waterfall. With a snorkel on, your beast will certainly help you get through this and it will be fun through the waters.
Mind you, although it is minimal or no traffic in this area, this is also a bus route. You’ll have a hard time giving space to buses coming from the opposite direction. It is going to rain throughout the whole trip and if your visibility will drop to 20-30 meters by evening. So preferably start the trip in the morning. It’s going to be very difficult as the daylight starts to fade. Fog lamps will help you very much. Lone travelling is not recommended if you are a first timer to this place. The area scenes are beautiful, and this is a brilliant off-roading route available in the country.
6. Sach Pass- Pangi Valley:
Sach Pass is situated at an altitude of 4,420 meters or 14500 feet lying on the Pir Panjal Range of the Himalayas and connects Chamba Valley/ Churah Valley with Pangi Valley in Himachal Pradesh. It is about 127 km from Chamba and about 175 km from Dalhousie.
Every year the pass gets open from late June or early July to mid-October and then the road closes for winters after heavy snowfall. At the beginning of the trip the roads are good, but then it is mostly non-existent roads, rocks, boulders on road, multiple gushing water crossings, landslide points, slush near the pass and some very tricky sections. Numerous water crossings, endless waterfalls, snow walls as high as 40 feet, roads as if the pathway to hell, picking up an 4×4 to cross the landslide, clearing the landslide on your own, driving through the ever-violent gushing streams and waterfalls, running through the live landslides, taking an open wild waterfall bath, getting stuck in no man’s land, crossing over mighty passes of Rohtang Pass and Jalori Pass. This could arguably be the best off-roading trip you could ever do.
So, that’s some of the of the best off-roading destinations you could visit to satisfy that adventure seeking part within you. Before going for the trip, take the vehicle that you know inside out. Because you’ll face situations where you and your car will have to work it out to come out of it. Also, look to journey with your friends, it is better (and is fun!) going in a group for such adventures. Now, you can transform your 4×4 into a mean machine and get it ready for the challenges ahead. Explorer kits are also available online, which will provide you with the necessary items required for off-roading. If you would love to gain experience in off-roading, clubs like the Mahindra Adventure will help you gain knowledge from the experienced offroaders. Let us remember, off-roading is not all about driving through hell-like roads which no one dared to try but also includes living and fighting through the day and finally reaching the destination which no one dreamed of seeing, just like the last stanza of the poem:
“I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference.”
Elizabeth Mathew is is an entrepreneur, digital journalist and a photographer. A life-long generalist, she writes for various blogs covering digital entertainment, social media and tech. She can be followed @raisamathew