India (North and South) in January-March - thoughts, tips and advice
Replies: 9 - Last Post: Nov 3, 2012 10:47 PM Last Post By: Albin_2
Oct 31, 2012 4:50 PM
India (North and South) in January-March - thoughts, tips and adviceHi there,
Myself and a friend are hoping to go on a 6-week tour this winter to India. It will be our first visits to India although we have cycle toured elsewhere before and travelled fairly extensively.
It would be great to hear anyone else's experiences while riding in India, I have heard a lot of horror stories about the roads but an equal measure of encouragement too...
I am stuck, however, with deciding where to go. I have been looking for regions which have shortish distances between towns, villages and sights, with a climate which will be fine for riding in at this time of year and enough to fill six weeks. I plan to spend stretched at national parks/reserves too as I am not much of a city-dweller and am a a wildlife watcher at heart. I am not averse to one or two train trips as well to cut out some of the longer distances but would rather not rely on this much.
I have basically whittled it down to:
- Himalayan foothills - but not too high due to the cold! (Places could include Corbett NP, Ranikhet, Almora, Rishikesh, Haridwar, Dehradun, Chandigarh, Shimla... Suggestions please!).
- Kerala, S Karnataka, W Tamil Nadu (Places could include Western Ghats, Ooty, Fort Cochin, Trivandrum and the many parks along the way... Suggestions please!).
Is it madness to be riding in the southern Himalayan foothills at that time of year? We are fine with cool weather, being British, but would rather not have to bring thick sleeping gear or lots of layers. Is tent/sleeping bag necessary at all?
Have I completely missed out some obvious amazing places I shouldn't miss?
Have I overlooked other amazing areas which would make a good 5/6week trip?
Literally any advice would be greatly appreciated!
Oct 31, 2012 10:39 PM
1The Indian Himalaya has lots of great cycling, but mid-winter is likely to have bad weather. Best to go in spring or autumn; or in summer Ladakh. March would be OK in the foothills.
I recommend the Kerala and Tamil Nadu region; maybe into Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh as well. You should have good weather along with lots of culture, wildlife parks, and scenery. The major roads in Kerala are very busy, but rideable; search out the smaller roads. Tamil Nadu has a great many smaller roads good for cycling.
Also consider Rajasthan for exotic desert culture, historic sites, and scenery. Weather is very good in winter.
Generally, the place to avoid cycling is the Ganges valley on the plains. This region has more traffic, less scenery, and more hassles. Train, bus, or car travel are better options here.
You have countless options. Perhaps see what other cyclists have done, such as on Crazyguyonabike India.
Oct 31, 2012 10:45 PM
2You can leave all the camping gear at home and travel light if you go to South India or Rajasthan.
In the Himalaya, I find it worthwhile to carry a tent, sleeping bag, and pad--especially in Ladakh.
You don't need cooking gear at all in India.
A guidebook to India such as LPs or Rough Guide is essential. Perhaps bring maps from home, such as the Nelles regional series to India, then buy state maps when you arrive.
Nov 1, 2012 2:14 AM
3i can say many places in TN, let me keep this like an iteration which might be of a help to you.
as you start from chennai.
chennai (headquaters, marina beach temples, shooping)-> kanchipuram (one day each) can stay in chennai (majorly temples, silk dresses)
chennai-> pondicherry (travel 1 day) on East coast road you can visit spots and halt in pondichery. (auroville and beaches)
pondicherry -> kumbakonam-> thanjavur-> trichy (would have lots of temples. (can be visited from trichy also) halt in trichy
trichy-> dindugal-> kodaikanal (can spend a day or two, a hill region)
kodaikanal->dindugal-> palani (murugan temple) -> madurai halt (meenakshi amman temple)
rameshwaram-> kanyakumari (lands end of india) then can enter kerala.
this is a draft route. based on your interests you can customize.
hotels can be found as per your needs.
guess now i made you to feel there are lot of places (still few places i didnt include) :)
Nov 1, 2012 4:31 AM
4Like you I stay away from most of the cities in India and look for the wildlife parks. Be aware these are often in remote and unsettled regions so places to stay are sometimes tricky. Also the worst (roughest) roads are in these wildlife reserves. Down through the ghats there are a lot but you need to spend time drilling into the subject on-line.
We always do 2-1/2 week trips so are in a different position to you. Personally I'd suggest you stay on the East side of the range and so avoid the south west coast. It has become quite modern. As Bill says, inland a bit is better but there are few roads and many are very intense.
Last year 3 of us did a trip in Gujarat and a feature was the Gir Sanctuary. You really have to consider going there. This year we are going to the sanctuaries in SW Karnataka, especially around the Nagarhole National Park.
I also recommend you go through Hampi. And Tamil Nadu is great to tour including the exciting trip to the Cape.
Nov 1, 2012 1:52 PM
5For the time of year you're going and being 5-6 weeks, the south may be the better option.
Being the first visit the south is a great introduction.
You could consider flying into Delhi and out of Trivandrum, or the opposite.
The foothills may be too wet.
Forget the cooking and camping gear in the south as there are heaps of places.
The last trip we did was Delhi to Trivandrum over the course of 3 months. http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/india2
Edited by: onrrbike
Nov 1, 2012 6:18 PM
6Thanks everyone for this. Some good tips.
I have decided to go ahead with planning a Karnataka & Kerala tour, flying in/out of Somewhere like Goa or Bangalore and then leaving via Trivandrum. Good idea?
I would like to visit nice coastal towns, hill stations and national parks. Any recommendations?
Also, to anyone who has cycled into or through national parks, is this possible? What restrictions are there with taking bikes to or through parks and do I have to book in advance? Is there usually somewhere budget to stay?
Nov 2, 2012 4:14 AM
7I would say go from Chennai to Trivandrum (or whatever it is called now) in Kerala.
No need to even go to Chennai if you don't want to start in a big city - airport is to south and you can get taxi to Mamalamarapuram(?), get over jet lag at beach side then start cycling.
Get a guidebook and work out route to see some sights, temples, forts, etc in Tamil Nadu. Then you can pedal into the Ghats (mts) - some wildlife parks, but you won't see much wildlife, I only saw an elephant and some wild boar. In Kerala, Kochi and backwaters interesting and you can finish at beach in Trivandrum if you want.
From UK you can fly Emitrates (bikes no problem) or Gulf into Chennai and out of Trv.
I've done variations of this route a few times with different people - its a good intro to India with a bit of everything.
Nov 2, 2012 10:04 AM
8Winter is not ideal (unless you enjoy cycling in the cold!) for cycling in the himalayas. March could be okish. The Climate in South India would be better. I would suggest you go off the coast from chennai and try to ride interiors through smaller ranges and mountains... loads of nature... birds and wild life would be limited but there are loads of non-touristy stretches. Just go over google maps and trace the roads around the greenery. If you are not a very picky one, then don't worry too much about accommodation, You will always find accommodation in India and there are very few stretches of 100+kms without habitation. As for roads, where the roads are nice, the ride is not enjoyable... and the more enjoyable the ride is the more bad the roads would be.. I just returned from a 3 week tour in himachal pradesh and some of the best rides were in places where there were mule tracks!
I'm from Chennai, Tamil Nadu so drop in a msg if you need any help.
Nov 3, 2012 10:47 PM
I have found the State Highways nice to cycle in India. They are often treelined, giving good shade. They pass through towns and villages, so easy to find food etc.
The new National Highways are the straightest and flattest, but with no shade and dreadfully hot.
There are often also smaller roads that looks very nice. But they wind round and round, and sometimes just ends at a river where there is no bridge and scant info on how to get across.
Ooty (Udhagamandalam)Book now
(4 star Hotel)
From US$148.32 per night
(3 star Hotel)
From US$42.32 per night
(4 star Hotel)
From US$234.54 per night