Dimming the lights in your apartment, opening a bottle of bubbly, and watching a Wong Kar-wai flick just doesn’t make the grade for quality time with the better half any more. What you need is an immersive experience, ideally in an exotic locale — a tailor-made scenario for a road trip. Here are some ideas for a drive that you could take for your date with Cupid this month.
Perfect winter driving destination if you fancy a bit of tiger spotting, Ranthambore isn’t your usual couples’ retreat. But the drive, that is almost entirely on smaller State highways, is quite lovely, and makes it worth the effort. You’ll never get into a traffic snarl, or find yourself trailing big trucks. You have to be lucky to spot a big cat at this national park, although your chances of a close encounter go up dramatically if you can talk a forest ranger into showing you about. At least you have each other.
The best part about driving to Kaziranga is that you don’t have to spend days seeking out its primary occupant — the rhinoceros. The gigantic animal can be easily spotted ambling about nonchalantly from the peripheral roads, as can herds of elephants. For the nights, lay your hat at one of the colonial-era estate-turned-guesthouses in the vicinity of the park.
India’s very own Napa Valley is an ideal dating spot not far from Mumbai. Take the gorgeous route to Trimbakeshwar, which has one of the best blacktops in the country. Sparse traffic, sweeping curves and a horizon dominated by low hills make it excellent driving country. Top it off with a wine-and-cheese tasting at Sula Vineyards, where you can check into a luxury tent for the night. Spend a weekend replete with lazy lunches, bicycling, and copious consumption of wine.
Give the legions of honeymooners in the backwaters a slip and drive to the hills of Wayanad instead. Lush as only Kerala can be, the country roads around these parts wind through coffee estates and little hamlets, where you’ll find the most succulent food in the State. For your romantic interludes, head to Vythiri and check into a treehouse resort.
Done to death you say? Take the longer route from Mumbai that meanders along the coast, passing through unspoilt villages where you’ll find some of the yummiest Malvani cuisine. Stop at Sindhudurg for the night, before heading to your favourite haunts in India’s most popular honeymoon destination. Or, if you’ve had enough of that — give North Goa a miss and go for long walks on the quiet untrammelled beaches of South Goa.
In spite of the clichés, Udaipur, with its lovely lakes, erstwhile royal residences-turned-hotels, and romantic vibe, never disappoints. Add to that some of the best roads in the country — leading up to the City of Lakes, and to places of interest near and around, including the atmospheric Kumbhalgarh Fort. From the Capital, there’s no better road trip to Rajasthan. Plan a night’s halt at Jaipur, and, if you haven’t had your fill at Udaipur, then carry on to Bikaner for a taste of old Rajasthan.
Meraj Shah makes a living chronicling his experiences on the road, shooting video and writing on auto, travel and golf. When not roving the globe, he lives in Delhi with a motorcycle named Blue
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