India is one of the biggest countries in the world, bordered by no less than six other nations. Rising to the Himalayas in the north it gradually slopes towards the warm waters of the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian sea, passing some terrific terrain for walking as it does so. However, the terrain has also become a popular destination for another kind of tourist in recent times.
With so much variety on offer more and more mountain bikers are choosing India as the place for their next adventure. A few of the best spots for mountain bike enthusiasts are Ladakh (in the north), Rajasthan (north west), Sikkim (north east) and Kerala (in the south) where there are many dedicated tour operators. These two regions are very different and take in the high mountains of the north in Ladakh, and the tropical forests of the south in Kerala. Any traveller to India who is a keen mountain biker would be well advised to visit both these areas.
Mountain biking in the deserts of Rajasthan
Rajasthan is a fascinating area of Indian history and is jam-packed with awe-inspiring forts and palaces. Riding through the former royal states of this region will provide you with amazing insight into North India’s royal heritage. Rajasthan is particularly noted for the vibrancy of colours of all the different cities. The former powerful state of Jaipur is painted strictly pink, the city of Jodphur strictly blue and Udaipur’s alabaster buildings are surrounded by a stunning array of lakes.
Cycling through Rajasthan is on rustic, rural roads that wind through small villages and alongside majestic fortresses. Your way will be shared with camels, goats and water buffaloes. Cycling through Rajasthan will give you a rich sense of the countries history as well as it’s vibrant present. Travelling by bike is one of the best ways to experience the area, but be warned: Rajasthan can get very hot!
Ascending (and descending) the foothills of the Himalayas
Sikkim provides some of the best viewpoints for the famous snow-capped peaks of the Himalayas in northwest India. The cycling here is more recommended to experienced mountain bikers with many challenging routes along rocky, steep roads. The terrain can be unforgiving and you should ensure that your health cover is complete with airlift liability – the hospitals are few and far between. If your bike is expensive, you may want to get extra cover for this as well – the terrain and long days can be very unforgiving. If you are keen to cycle here, make sure you turn up a few of days in advance of your trip. It can take some time to get used to the altitude at nearly 5, 000ft. The ascents may be challenging, but they are worth it for the stunning vistas and awesome downhills.
Meandering along the tropical back roads of Kerala
Kerala is a very narrow state between the Arabian Sea and the mountainous region of the Western Ghats. It is world famous for it’s tropical forests, thriving backwaters, wildlife, and tea and spice plantations. Kerala offers more luxury to tourists than most other regions with many grand hotels and eco-lodges available.
By bike you are advised to head uphill and take in the beautiful tea plantations and spice estates. Elephant fans should keep there eyes peeled if you decide to travel through one of the four wildlife parks present here. After a long cycling trip, there is no better way to relax than spending some time on the Keralan backwaters aboard one of the famous houseboats.
Adventuring in the Nubra Valley
Back north, the high altitude mountainous desert of Ladakh offers some of the best biking in the world for the adrenaline junky. You will pass through remote villages, cross glacier rivers, and cycle up (and more importantly down) one of the highest roads in the world. The area is packed with stunning Buddhist monasteries and even more impressive scenery. Keep an eye out for snow leopards hunting on the granite cliff faces as you pass below.
Now all you have to do is choose where to go
These for areas offer something very different for all different types of mountain biker. Whether you’re looking for speedy descents against stunning mountainous backdrops, or a wildlife adventure through the lush jungle, India has something for everyone. If you choose one of these four destinations for your next trip, you won’t be disappointed.Image source: ladakhalfrescoexpeditions