August 2023 - Be On The Road | Live your Travel Dream!

Thursday, August 31, 2023

Sivasailam Temple: 1000 year old temple surrounded by the lush mountains of the Western Ghats

The colourful assembly hall in front of Paramakalyani's sanctum sanctorum at Sivasailam Temple

This ancient temple, a Vaippu Sthalam, has been mentioned in the Thevaram hymns of Thirunavukkarasar (7th century CE). The Gadananathi river is located to the north and east of this temple. It is surrounded by the Velli Malai, Mulli Malai and Podhigai Malai hills of the Western Ghats. It was originally built by the Pandiya kings and then later additions were made by the Cholas, the Cheras and the later Pandiya kings. I am talking about the 1000 plus year old Sivasailanathar Paramakalyani Amman temple at Sivasailam and that is surrounded by the lush forests and mountains of the Western Ghats.

The Sivasailam temple is all about its legendary stories, pristine location, beautiful sculptures and carvings. The journey begins when you leave the Ambasamudram – Tenkasi highway at Alwarkurichi and head southwest towards the mountains. Paddy fields surround you on three sides and the mountains tower in front of you. The wind starts picking up as you get closer to Sivasailam. As you stand over the Gadananathi river bridge, the colourful gopuram and the temple complex come into view. As you get out of your car in the parking lot, you cannot stop admiring the lush forest views of the Western Ghats in the background and the Gadananathi river in the foreground. If this view is to your right, the view to the left is of the beautifully carved temple doors and its many mandapams.

Sivasailam temple located at the base of the Western Ghats in South Tamil Nadu

It is a west facing temple with both the shrines of Sivasailanathar and Paramakalyani facing west. The main deity is a swayambhu lingam with snake armour and other ornaments. At the back of the lingam, there are lines that appear like hair and this gives the lord another name “Sadaiappar”. This can be seen through a hole while circumambulating the garbha griha and when the priest shows Arathi at the back of the lingam. The Nandi in front of the shrine of Lord Shiva is yet another highlight of this temple. This beautifully carved Nandi (bull) is a East facing beautifully carved monolith that is in a seated position with its tail tucked under it. This statue is uncommon in Tamil temples and highlights the imaginative work of the craftsman. Legend has it the Nandi sculpture was so beautiful and lifelike that it actually came to life. In order to make the Nandi seated, the sculptor had to stroke the back of the Nandi as per the guidance of Lord Shiva. These strokes can be seen on the back of this gorgeous stone Nandi. Goddess Paramakalyani Amman’s shrine is located next to that of Lord Shiva and her unique feature is her emerald green cheeks. The other shrines are dedicated to Ganesha, Muruga, Dakshinamurthy, Natarajar, Surya, Chandran, 63 Nyanmars and others.

The colourful gopuram of the Sivasailam temple

The temple, like many old Hindu temples has a number of mandapams – Nartha, Maa, Artha and Mani. A mani mandapam is situated on the banks of the Gadananathi river. In the mainstays of the mandapam, a lion peak or model is seen. On the inward side of the pandal mandapam, colourful blossoms are delineated. The Sivasailam temple has a five storied main gopuram that carries countless statues of gods and goddesses in the Hindu pantheon. The vimana is fabulously overlaid. The temple has two chariots, one is extensive and the other is little. The expansive chariot is for Sivasailanathar and the smaller one is for his spouse, Paramakalyani Amman.

Beautifully sculpted Nandi made out of a single granite rock at Sivasailam Temple

This temple in India’s deep south offers you many things: an offbeat location, a rural holiday experience, a gorgeous green surrounding, a 1000 plus year old temple and a river nearby to play around. Everything else that I mention about the temple above is an icing on the cake. I highly recommend this temple and village if you happen to be visiting this fabulous part of India.

Entering the Sivasailanathar temple at Sivasailam

Things not to miss at this temple:

1) A dip in the Gadananathi river next to the mani mandapam

2) Asking the priest to show you the tresses at the back of the Shiva lingam (Sivasailanathar)

3) Asking the priest or some locals to tell you stories related to the temple, especially how the lingam was formed, the story behind Sadaiappar and the story behind the life-like Nandi

4) Seeing the beautifully carved Nandi in front of the main sanctum, its tail tucked below it and noticing the strokes/punch at its back that was made to keep it seated permanently

Entering the main sanctum sanctorum at Sivasailam temple

Famous festivals of this temple:

1) Poosam Theppotsavam in the month of Thai (Jan 15 to Feb 15)

2) Rathotsavam in the month of Panguni (March 15 to April 14)
Beautiful Nandi vahanam for the Utsava murthy of Sivasailam temple

How to reach there:

The Sivasailam temple is about 6.5 kilometers from Alwarkurichi, 19 kilometres from Ambasamudram and 26 kilometres from Tenkasi. The nearest bus stop and railway station would be Alwarkurichi, which is well connected with the cities of Tirunelveli, Tenkasi and Madurai. The nearest airport would be Tuticorin, which is about 97 kilometres away. Thiruvananthapuram airport is about 136 kilometres away.

Gorgeous Utsava murthy of Sivasailam Temple

Best season to visit:

One can visit the temple all year round if you plan on visiting in the early hours of the morning. The Saaral season of cool winds, drizzles and lush weather between June and September is a great time to explore this temple. If you are looking for cool weather, opt for the months from October through February.

Entering the colourful Amman sannadhi at Sivasailam temple

Temple timings:

The temple is open from 6 AM to 12 noon and from 5 PM to 8 PM.
The colourful sanctum sanctorum of Paramakalyani at Sivasailam temple

Where to stay:

The nearest place with decent hotels would be Ambasamudram. Hotel Ambai Grand is the best option here.

If you wish for luxury, I would recommend trying the hotels at Tirunelveli – GRT Regency, Janakiram and/or Aryas.

If you wish to stay in slightly cooler weather, you should try the resorts in and around Courtallam.

If you wish to stay in pristine nature, I would recommend that you stay at the forest rest houses in Kalakad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve.

If you care for a true rustic experience, I would recommend that you stay at any of the homestays or guest houses in Kallidaikurichi village agraharam.

Big statue of Nandi at Sivasailam Temple, Tamil Nadu

Where to eat:

You can find some basic snacks with tea/coffee in the village of Sivasailam, but if you want something more, you will have to try the hotels at Alwarkurichi. For elaborate food options, I would recommend that you head either to Hotel Ramanas or Hotel Gowri Shankar at Ambasamudram. Both of them serve delicious vegetarian tiffin items and meals at reasonable prices.

Intricate carvings on the Sivasailam temple main door

Other nearby tourist attractions:

1) Mannarkoil Rajagopalaswamy Temple: Magnificent 10th century temple with a asthanga vimana

2) 1000 year old Papanasathar Temple at Papanasam: Where you can wash all your sins away

3) Sivasailam: One of the wettest places during the North East Monsoon in India

4) Kallidaikurichi: The village of the Saaral season

5) Iruttu Kadai Halwa: Icon of Tirunelveli

6) Nellaiappar Temple: A 7th century Cosmic Dance Wonder

People enjoying a dip at Gadananathi River, Sivasailam, Tenkasi district, Tamil Nadu

7) Pattamadai Pai: GI Tagged beautiful handwoven mats from a tiny Tamil Nadu village

8) Thamirabharani River Delta: A Motorcycle Route full of rustic gorgeousness

9) Karaiyar Dam: Offbeat wildlife and nature holiday destination in India’s deep south

10) The hidden gem called Kalakad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve

11) Courtallam: The herbal bath holiday destination of Tamil Nadu

12) Tiruchendur Murugan Temple: Sea Shore Magic

13) 10th century Kailasanathar Temple at Brahmadesam

14) 10th century Valiswara Temple at Thiruvaleeswaram

15) Kallidaikurichi to Manimuthar Dam: A top scenic and rustic cycling route

16) Garudai Sevai from the Agraharams of Kallidaikurichi

17) The Festival of Karthigai Deepam from a Traditional Tamil Nadu Village

18) Cycling through the backyards of Kalakad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve

19) 13th century Kasi Visvanathar temple at Tenkasi

20) Punalur Suspension Bridge: Hidden gem of Kerala

21) Lesser Known Kerala Mountain Railways: Treat for nature lovers

22) Manjolai: The offbeat hill station of Tamil Nadu

23) Manimuthar Falls: A great forest waterfall

24) Thenmala Forest and Palaruvi Falls: Offbeat nature and wildlife getaway

Continue Reading...

Thursday, August 17, 2023

5 Charming Towns in Spain

Cliffs and gorges of Ronda, Spain

Spain, a land of enchantment and cultural richness, is held in high regard by those considering a move or traveling abroad. Recognized as one of Europe's most sought-after destinations, Spain offers a harmonious blend of historical legacy, captivating landscapes, and a vibrant way of life.

As a colourful land of culture and diversity, Spain offers a plethora of captivating towns that have captured the hearts of travellers and even inspired some to make the move.

These enchanting places boast a unique blend of history, architecture, and natural beauty that beckons adventurers and aspiring expats alike. Let's delve into five such charming towns that hold the promise of unforgettable experiences and a potential new home.

1) Ronda: Where Time Stands Still Amidst Towering Cliffs and Gorges

Nestled atop towering cliffs and split by the dramatic El Tajo Gorge, Ronda is a town that instantly transports you to a bygone era. With its Moorish influences evident in the architecture and layout, Ronda's old-world charm is truly a sight to behold.

Visitors can marvel at the Puente Nuevo, an iconic stone bridge that spans the gorge, providing breath taking vistas of the surrounding countryside.

Explore the Plaza de Toros, one of Spain's oldest bullrings, and step back in time as you walk through the historic streets.

Ronda's enchantment also lies in its serene setting, surrounded by rolling hills and vineyards, making it a haven for wine lovers and tranquillity seekers.

2) Cadaqués: Surreal Beauty and Coastal Tranquillity on the Costa Brava

Coastal town of Cadaques, Spain

Tucked away on the Costa Brava, Cadaqués is a seaside gem that has captured the hearts of artists and wanderers for generations.

This charming fishing village is renowned for its pristine white buildings and narrow, winding streets that lead to hidden coves and beaches. One cannot miss a visit to the Salvador Dalí House-Museum, where the surrealist artist once resided.

The town's unique aura is further enhanced by the crystal-clear Mediterranean waters that invite travellers to bask in the sun and enjoy various water activities. Cadaqués' artistic heritage, combined with its coastal allure, make it a haven for those seeking inspiration and a peaceful retreat.

3) Úbeda: Stepping into Renaissance Elegance in the Heart of Andalusia

El Salvador Chapel and Dean Ortega's Palace, Ubeda, Spain

Nestled in the heart of Andalusia, the town of Úbeda exudes an aura of grandeur and history. Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site, Úbeda's Renaissance architecture is a testament to its rich past.

The Plaza Vázquez de Molina stands as a grand example of this architectural style, surrounded by splendid buildings that harken back to the town's golden age. Visitors can lose themselves in the labyrinthine streets while discovering quaint plazas and charming churches.

Úbeda's cultural tapestry, characterized by its festivals, gastronomy, and artistic legacy, makes it an alluring destination for those who wish to immerse themselves in Spanish heritage.

4) Cudillero: A Colourful Maritime Escape Along Asturias' Rugged Coastline

Cudillero, Spain

Nestled along the rugged coastline of Asturias, Cudillero is a picturesque fishing village that evokes a sense of tranquillity and authenticity.

The town's multi-coloured houses cascade down the hillside to the harbour, creating a mesmerizing visual spectacle. Stroll through the winding streets, where the sea breeze carries the scent of saltwater and freshly caught seafood.

With a lively fishing port and a selection of charming seafood restaurants, Cudillero offers an immersive experience into the traditional maritime life of the region. Nature enthusiasts can explore the nearby cliffs and beaches, ensuring a harmonious blend of relaxation and exploration.

5) Ribeira Sacra: Where Nature and History Converge Along Galicia's Sil River

Mencia grape growing in Ribeira Sacra, Spain

For those seeking a blend of nature's splendour and cultural richness, the Ribeira Sacra region is a hidden gem. Nestled along the banks of the Sil River in Galicia, this area is known for its lush landscapes, terraced vineyards, and historic monasteries.

The town of Santo Estevo is home to a stunning monastery that has been converted into a luxury hotel, offering a unique opportunity to stay within a piece of living history.

Meander through the vineyards, sampling the region's acclaimed wines, and embark on boat trips along the Sil River to marvel at the breath taking canyons.

Ribeira Sacra's combination of natural beauty and architectural marvels provides a holistic escape for travellers seeking serenity and cultural enrichment.

Traveling to Spain

The allure of these five charming towns in Spain lies in their unique blend of history, architecture, natural beauty, and cultural richness.

Whether you're drawn to the grandeur of Úbeda's Renaissance architecture, the artistic spirit of Cadaqués, or the coastal charm of Cudillero, each town offers a distinct experience that resonates with the heart and soul of Spain. Ronda's dramatic landscapes and Ribeira Sacra's fusion of nature and culture further enhance the enchantment.

For those yearning to travel or even relocate to Spain, these towns hold the promise of unforgettable memories and the opportunity to immerse oneself in the rich tapestry of Spanish life.

However, given the complexities of Spanish immigration laws and legal processes, a lot of help can be given by hiring an immigration lawyer, such as Balcells Group Lawyers, when considering a move or extended travel to Spain.

Well, no time to lose! Spain and your future adventures await you.

Note: The pictures in this article are courtesy of and have been borrowed under the creative commons license. Each photograph has been linked to its host page on

Continue Reading...

Thursday, August 10, 2023

10 Top Motorcycling Routes in the World

Top 10 Motorcycle Trips in the world

The joy of feeling the wind on your face, smelling the air, watching mother nature’s scenery go by while feeling your motorcycle engine roar below you is something that can be related by every single motorcycling afficionado around the world. It doesn’t matter whether you are a teenager riding his first motorcycle, someone going through their mid-life crisis or if you are an elderly pro who loves being on two wheels, each one will connect with this motorcycling love.

Such love can be felt while exploring these 10 top motorcycling routes across the world. Not only are some of these the most adventurous routes in the world, some of them happen to be the most scenic too. All you need to do is get your motorcycle in top condition, obtain an international driving permit, pack all your motorcycling travel gear and be ready to hit the road.

1) Ladakh, India

Scenic pit stop near Tanglang La pass, Ladakh

Home to some of the world’s highest motorable roads, the mountain roads of Ladakh in India’s Western Himalayas is for the die hard adventure enthusiast. Rarefied mountain air, stunning mountain panoramas, tough weather, gorgeous culture and lush valleys, the Himalayan roads of Ladakh has everything that a cold high altitude desert can offer and more. These roads are the mecca for all motorcyclists from across the world as they are home to some of the highest motorable passes in the world. Serene looking high altitude mountain lakes, 2nd highest astronomical observatory in the world, rich Buddhist culture are the icing on the cake. Below are some of the high mountain passes that you can visit in this region:

a) Khardung La – 18,380 feet – one of the most popular motorcycling routes in India

b) Marsimik La – 18,314 feet

c) Photi La – 18,124 feet

d) Kaksang La – 17,842 feet

e) Chang La – 17,586 feet

f) Tanglang La - 17,481 feet

g) Wari La – 17,216 feet

h) Umling La – 19,302 feet – getting a permit to ride on this road is tough due to its strategic location and proximity to the line of actual control between India and China.

2) Pacific Coast Highway, USA

Pacific coast highway, California, USA

The legendary Pacific coast highway covering over 900 kilometres of California’s rugged and beautiful coastlines takes you all the way from San Francisco to San Diego near the Mexico border. It is one of the world’s most astoundingly scenic roads and is meant to be explored slowly, while gasping at the mountains, towering trees, surfing villages, expansive beaches, local wine, Hollywood glitz and endless sky. Starting in San Francisco, the Pacific Coast highway takes you through:

a) Felton – a drowsy mountain town nestled among Redwood trees

b) Santa Cruz – a friendly beach town with a university, gorgeous redwood trees and waves that surfers from all over flock to ride

c) Big Sur – rugged mountains blanketed with dreamy redwood forests that drop into dramatic coastline

d) Cambria – a charming seaside village home to rocky shorelines, bluffs and tide pools teeming with sea life

e) Morro Bay – a small city by a large bay and estuary that is home to a diverse range of fauna including blue herons, monarch butterflies, hummingbirds and sea otters

f) San Luis Obispo – a mellow college town that is famous for its nearby wineries and lighthouse

g) Solvang – mini Denmark that is home to many Danish bakeries

h) Los Olivos – rustic charming town that is surrounded by expansive wineries

i) Santa Barbara – a city where beachy casual meets glitz

j) Los Angeles – home to Hollywood glamour, hipster cool, Disneyland and old fashioned food markets

k) San Diego – a border city famous for its Mexican food, surfing spots, a military outpost and a world famous zoo

3) Amalfi Coast, Italy

Amalfi coast, Italy

Originally built by the Romans, the intense 70 kilometre Amalfi coast road is cut into sheer rock face. On one side is the beautiful blue sea crashing beneath and on the other side is the massive rock face that you find yourself clinging to. Connecting the towns of Sorrento and Salerno, the Amalfi coast highway snakes and winds through endless hairpins and up and over steep hills. The famed Amalfi coast is exactly as you have always pictured: rugged coastline dotted with seaside towns whose classic, balconied buildings overlook the turquoise Tyrrhenian sea. The highlights of this route include:

a) Riding past vineyards that dot the countryside

b) Riserva Statale Valle delle Ferriere – a protected area with several waterfalls and lush plant life

c) Church of Santa Maria Assunta – offers views of opulent villas along the coast that hug the steep mountainside above a petite, sandy beach

d) Duomo Ravello – historic cathedral in Ravello with shops, lodging and dining nearby

e) Impossibly photogenic coast between Minori and Vietri Sul Mare

f) Lattari Mountain National Park – a great ecotourism site that offers some of the most stunning views in all of Italy

g) Fjord of Furore – special place fo artisans

h) Amalfi Cathedral – gorgeous 9th century building bearing the crypt of St Andrew

i) Sirenuse – a cluster of small islands off the coast, fulfilling all your idyllic beach dreams

j) Cetara – small fishing village located between the sea and lush green hills and that is home to affordable stay options and great dining avenues

4) Ceuta to Marrakesh Loop, Morocco

Motorcycle Trip - Atlas Mountains, Morocco

This 2,570 kilometre long exotic route offers an adventure of a lifetime. It takes you through a series of ancient citadels, souks, tall mountains and oodles of vibrant desert culture. The route starts in Ceuta (a Spanish island city on the north coast of Africa), passes through the Rif Mountains through Fez and then through the Atlas mountains to Erfoud and the mighty Sahara desert. From here, you pass through the Todra gorge to the palm groves of Ouarzazate and finally the city of Marrakesh where you get to experience the real flavour of old Morocco. From here, it is a short ride through the Tizi n’Test pass down to the Atlantic coast at Agadir, from where you can visit Casablanca and then Tangiers before returning to Ceuta.

Overall, it is a stunning desert ride where you can enjoy oodles of off roading, twisties and wide open roads, while experiencing the rich desert cultures of Morocco.

5) The Great Ocean Road, Australia

Great Ocean Road, Australia

This is an Australian National Heritage listed 240 kilometre stretch of road along the South Eastern coast of Australia. The Great Ocean Road traverses rainforests, beaches, cliffs, natural limestone and sandstone rock formations to give you an experience of one of nature’s best spectacles. This motorcycle route starts at Torquay and travels westward to finish at Allansford near Warrnambool. Following are the highlights of the Great Ocean Road:

a) Surf coast – gorgeous coastline between Torquay and Cape Otway

b) Shipwreck coast – stunning coastline between Cape Otway and Port Fairy that is home to the famous limestone formations called the Twelve Apostles and that provides views of the Bass strait and the Southern ocean.

c) Anglesea – surfing town renowned for its eastern grey kangaroos, Coogoorah Park and the Angair wildflower festival

d) Lorne – seaside town on the Great Ocean Road popular for family bathing, surfing and fishing. It is known for its Falls Festival, 1.2 km Pier to Pub swim, the Great Otway National park, Otway Ranges National park and the Lorne Pier.

e) Apollo Bay – coastal town on the Great Ocean Road that plays host to the annual Apollo Bay seafood festival, Winter Wild and the Great Ocean Road Running festival. Southern right whales and humpback whales are spotted off the coast from winter through spring.

f) Port Campbell – coastal town on the Great Ocean Road that is famous for the following natural limestone and sandstone rock formations located in the Port Campbell National Park and around: Loch Ard Gorge, The Grotto, London Arch and the Twelve Apostles.

6) Kathmandu, Nepal to Lhasa, Tibet

Mount Everest North Face seen from Tibet

This 1,250 kilometre ride will take you to the rooftop of the world while offering some surreal views of the Eastern Himalayas. The ride begins in Nepal’s capital city of Kathmandu and goes to Lhasa in Tibet while crossing scenic Tibetan landscapes, nomadic villages, snow capped mountains, pristine blue lakes, ancient Buddhist monasteries, historical cities and some of the highest mountain passes in the world. The motorcycling route would be:

a) Kathmandu to Shyabrubesi (125 kms and Elevation of 1,140 m) – Long journey through the remote areas of Langtang National Park

b) Shyabrubesi to Kerung (42 kms and elevation of 2,750 m) – Border crossing into Tibet and acclimatization day

c) Kerung to Tingri (244 kms and elevation of 4,300 m) – Ride to the highest plateau in the world and enjoy breath taking panoramas of Himalayan ranges: Mt Cho Oyu (8201 m), My Xishapagma (8012 m) and Mt Everest (8848 m)

d) Tingri to Xegar (185 kms and elevation of 3900 m) – Ride through the beautiful Tibetan countryside, explore Ronbuk monastery – the highest Buddhist monastery in the world and enjoy the day at Everest Base Camp

e) Xegar to Shigatse (244 kms and elevation of 3900 m) – Cross high altitude snow covered mountain passes and beautiful panoramas to arrive at Shigatse, the second largest Tibetan city

f) Shigatse to Gyantse (95 kms and elevation of 3950 m) – Head to Gyantse while visiting Tashilumpu monastery, Kumbum stupa and Phalkor monastery

g) Gyantse to Lhasa (261 km and elevation of 3650 m) – Full day picturesque drive crossing over Karola (5010 m), Kambala (4749 m) , colourful Yamdrok Tso lake and the Tibetan lifeline Brahmaputra or Yarlung Tsangpo river

7) Namibia, Southern Africa

Sand Dunes of Namib Desert, Nambia, Africa

Namibia is a jewel of Southern Africa. The vast expanses of Namib and Kalahari deserts offer remote solitude that is perfect for off-road adventure travel that includes national parks, impossibly tall dunes, rugged canyons, lush rivers, spectacular coastline, savannah, desert and much more. With the highest dunes in the world located in the legendary Namib desert, the infamous Skeleton coast and the wildlife-rich Etosha National Park, there’s something for everyone in Namibia. Following are the best motorcycle routes in Namibia:

a) Kaokoveld to Skeleton coast: Opuwo –> Palmwag –> Bergsig –> Cape Cross –> Swakopmund: 674 kms, good gravel roads

b) Around the Brandberg: About 220 km, all unpaved, very sandy in the Ugab river

c) Bosua Pass: Windhoek –> C28 –> Swakopmund: 322 km, all unpaved, but good gravel roads

d) The D707: Betta – Junction C 27/D707 – D707 to end/junction with C13: ~150 km, all unpaved, initially gravel, then sand

e) C13 along the Orange river: Rosh Pinah –> Sendering Drif –> C13 to Aubenkehr: 105 km, all unpaved, but good gravel road

8) Pamir Mountains, Tajikistan

Pamir Mountains, Tajikistan

The legendary Pamir mountains sit amidst the Hindu Kush, Karakoram, Himalayas and the Tian Shan mountain ranges, all whispering to and luring adventurers for thousands of years. The ancient Pamir highway runs between Termez in Uzbekistan and Kara Balta in Kyrgyzstan. The majority of the road however runs through the highlands of Tajikistan, cutting through the Pamir mountains. This gorgeous ride clocks in over 2000 km and climbs to a height of above 15000 feet at Ak-Baital pass. The entire route is one of the higher motorable routes in the world and hence altitude sickness is quite common. It is part of the ancient silk road and is rich in history, adventure and danger. 80% of the roads are paved and about 20% are gravel. The people of Tajikistan are very hospitable and will always help the tourist (musafir) even in the remotest or corners in Tajikistan.

The Pamir highway route is as follows: Dushanbe –> Qal’ai Khumb –> Khorog –> Bibi Fatima Hot Springs (Yamchun) –> Murgab –> Ak Baital Pass (4655 m) –> Khorog –> Qal’ai Khumb –> Dushanbe

9) North East India to Vietnam

Bell shaped pagodas of Bagan, Burma

A few years back, the Indian government opened the India-Myanmar border for overland travel. This opened the possibility of a lush forest motorcycling route spanning 5,200 kms and 5 countries. Starting in Siliguri in the Northern part of West Bengal, this route meanders through the dense jungles and tropical forests of North East India before entering Myanmar at Moreh. In Myanmar, the roads are mostly dirt tracks or gravel roads with wooden and metal bridges till you reach Mandalay. From Mandalay, you cut across Inle lake and into the mountainous province of Myanmar and Mae Hong Son in Thailand before you reach Chiang Rai in Northern Thailand. From here, you follow the Mekong river and head towards Luang Prabang in Laos. Then, you head further north into the mountainous region of Laos before you enter the Sapa region of Vietnam. From Sapa, you travel east to Hanoi and then kiss the coast to travel south all the way to the capital city of Ho Chi Minh city. This entire route is a lush tropical paradise. Except for parts of the India-Myanmar border, most roads are paved or in the worst case are good quality gravel roads. You criss cross mountains, rivers, forests and cities to explore this gorgeous part of the world.

Route map: Siliguri, India –> Moreh, India –> Mandalay, Myanmar –> Chiang Rai, Thailand –> Luang Prabang, Laos –> Hanoi, Vietnam –> Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

10) El Camino de la Muerte, Bolivia

Death Road, Bolivia

Last, but not the least in this list is the world’s most dangerous road. Known as the ‘Death Road’, this 69 km winding road stretch connects the world’s highest administrative capital of La Paz in Bolivia to the small Amazonian rainforest town of Coroico. The journey begins at 12,000 feet high Laz Paz with its mix of indigenous and modern cultures. The winding route with a single lane ascends to La Cumbre pass (about 15,000 feet high) in the Andean mountain only to dip back down into the Amazon rainforest over the course of 65 kilometres. The road weaves back and forth as it descends, and the thick forest below tends to obscure the steep drop below. The road is a mix of paved, dusty to loosened rock. Extreme weather is the think to stay aware of. At the top, you might face blinding fog and bone chilling weather, while in the rainforest, you can face high humidity and/or pouring rain. The sheer diversity and extreme route makes it a special motorcycling route of the world.

Photo Courtesy: Some of the photographs in this article have been borrowed from under the creative commons license. Each photograph has been linked to its host page on

Continue Reading...

Friday, August 04, 2023

Top Tips for a Memorable Motorbike Road Trip Across India

The gorgeous mountain roads of the Eastern Himalayas in Arunachal Pradesh

India, with its diverse landscapes, vibrant cultures, and rich history, is a motorcyclist's dream destination. Embarking on a motorbike road trip across this vast and enchanting country is an experience like no other. From the snow-capped peaks of the Himalayas to the sun-kissed beaches of Goa, and the bustling streets of Delhi to the serene backwaters of Kerala, India offers a kaleidoscope of sights, sounds, and flavours waiting to be explored. To ensure a safe, enjoyable, and unforgettable journey, we've compiled a list of top tips for your motorbike road trip across India.

Plan Your Route Carefully

Riding through the sand dunes enroute to Desert National Park, Rajasthan

With countless destinations to choose from, planning your route is essential. Research the places you wish to visit and create a flexible itinerary that allows you to savour the diversity of each region. Take into account the distance between destinations, road conditions, and available accommodations.

Choose the Right Time to Travel

Winding mountain roads of Arunachal Pradesh

India's climate can vary greatly depending on the region and the time of year. Avoid extreme weather conditions and monsoon season, as heavy rains can make roads treacherous. The ideal time for a motorbike road trip in most parts of India is during the winter and early spring months (October to March).

Pack Light and Wisely

Motorcycling through the high mountain passes of Ladakh

On a motorbike, storage space is limited, so pack only the essentials. Prioritise comfortable riding gear, weather-appropriate clothing, a first aid kit, basic tools, and any required documentation. Roll-up storage bags are a great option to maximise space on your bike.

Be Prepared for Diverse Road Conditions

So called National Highways of India which offer a great roller coaster ride....enroute to Khajuraho in Madhya Pradesh

India's roads range from smooth highways to challenging mountain passes and rugged terrains. Be prepared for varying road conditions, unexpected potholes, and chaotic traffic in urban areas. Ride at a moderate speed, especially on unfamiliar roads.

Ensure Your Motorcycle is Roadworthy

A countryside pit stop - Courtrallam, Tamil Nadu

Before embarking on your journey, give your motorcycle a thorough check-up. Ensure all mechanical components are in good working condition, including brakes, tires, lights, and engine. A well-maintained bike will ensure a smoother and safer trip.

Observe Traffic Rules and Local Customs

Scenic mountain highway from Munnar to Vattavada

Indian traffic can be chaotic, with a unique set of unwritten rules. Be patient, stay alert, and adapt to the local driving style. Respect local customs and traditions, and always seek permission before taking photos of people or religious sites.

Stay Hydrated and Mindful of Food Choices

At a vineyard in rural Chikkaballapur

India's cuisine is diverse and enticing, but it's essential to be cautious about what you eat and drink. Stick to bottled water and avoid consuming street food from unhygienic stalls. Staying hydrated is crucial, so carry water with you at all times.

Embrace the Beauty of the Journey

Chugging along with the World Heritage “Toy Train” to Darjeeling, West Bengal, India

India is a land of stunning landscapes and captivating sights. Take frequent breaks to soak in the beauty of your surroundings and interact with the locals. Engaging with people from different backgrounds will enrich your journey and offer unforgettable experiences.

Get the Right Insurance Cover

Monsoon Motorcycle Ride to Malnad, Karnataka

Before hitting the road, ensure you have the appropriate motorcycle insurance coverage. Compare motorcycle insurance options online for a simple and convenient way to find the best policy that suits your needs and provides the necessary protection during your road trip.

Document Your Adventure

Crossing the Shivapura hanging bridge on motorcycle

Capture the memories of your motorbike road trip across India through photographs and journaling. Documenting your journey will not only help preserve the experiences but also provide a way to share your adventures with friends and family back home.

Safety First

Maravanthe beach - An iconic highway pit stop of Karnataka

Above all, prioritise safety throughout your trip. Always wear proper riding gear, including a helmet, gloves, and protective clothing. Avoid riding at night in remote areas, and be cautious of wildlife on the roads, especially in national parks and reserves.

Embrace Spontaneity

A bright monsoon day at Bisle Forest, Karnataka

While planning is essential, leave room for spontaneity. Some of the most remarkable experiences often come from unplanned detours and unexpected encounters along the way. Be open to new adventures and go with the flow.

Continue Reading...
Logo Credits : Jobi T Chacko. UI/UX Credits : Murugan S Thirumalai
Copyright © 2009-2024 Sankara Subramanian C (
Reproduction without explicit permission is prohibited. All Rights Reserved

Join the Travel Club for FREE!!
and every fortnight get in your inbox...interesting experiential and off-beat travel stories , destination guides, handy tips (travel, photography and visa) based on personal experience, global vegetarian delights with helpful survival guides and gorgeous world travel images and videos as I (the Indian traveler) trot the globe! And a lot of other travel invites and soon to be launched goodies !

* indicates required