Dear lily-livered traveller, this article is not for you, unless you are willing to conquer your fears and embark on a thrilling road trip

The road is, undoubtedly, a metaphor for life – where it has steered one, where it is at the moment and down which course it might lead one to next.

It might be bumpy in some places, and smooth in others, all the while educating us about life’s indeterminate nature. Thus, we ought to pursue the road, as we must pursue life, with eager hearts and eager feet.

However, some road trips in India are not everyone’s cup of tea. Some are terrible for vertigo-prone drivers, others may be peppered with unpredictable snowstorms and avalanches. Driving on these roads call for caution and alertness since there is little or no room to err.

But as the saying goes, difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations. That’s the best part about arduous road journeys on dreadful roads that take you through spectacular valleys and utterly magnificent destinations. In case, you are ready for some nerve-wracking adventure, here are some of the most dangerous road trips one can take in India.

Killar-Kishtwar Road

Part of NH 26, this 114km long mountain trail running along river Chenab connects Killar in Lahaul and Spiti to Kishtwar in Jammu and Kashmir. Nicknamed as the ‘cliff-hanger’, the narrow road serves as the gateway to the Kishtwar Kailash mountain basecamp and lacks a secure edging with no railings. Full of unpredictable twists and turns with hanging rocks that hide the sight of oncoming vehicles, the road is definitely not for immature drivers.

The last 50 kilometres are the most challenging with an extremely steep climb. It is a nightmare for those with a fear of heights and vertigo. If it’s raining, be ready for a slippery and muddy road, which will give you the thrill of a lifetime. On one side of the road are massive mountains, on the other is a dangerous drop, thousands of feet into the Chenab, making it one of the scariest roads in India. Only those who are experts at reversing their car should think about taking this road.

Bumla Pass
Covered with heavy snow for the most part of the year, Arunachal’s Bumla Pass lies at an altitude of 16,500 ft above sea level. Uncertain snowstorms and blizzards make it extremely challenging. Owing to the low atmospheric pressure at high-altitude, travellers on this road often face Acute Mountain Sickness as a result of reduced oxygen in their blood. The weather could also worsen, quite dramatically. While the steel barriers along its edges provide a little bit of comfort, you should not get too confident.

Besides being thrilling, the Bumla Pass is also steeped in history. It was through this pass that the Dalai Lama entered India, after escaping Tibet. To visit, you need a special permit from the Office of the Deputy Commissioner in Tawang. It is also recommended to carry water, snacks, chocolates and tea in a thermos as there are no eateries on the way. 

Kolli Hill Road
Popular for its insane hairpin bends, this almost 50km road lies in the Kolli Hills mountain range in Tamil Nadu’s Namakkal district and takes you to the Kolli Malai, famously known as ‘the mountain of death’. A remarkable specimen of civil engineering, the road begins from Karavalli and terminates at Solakkadu. You’ll have to meander through as many as seventy hairpin bends, which is what makes this road trip totally exhilarating. Mind you, some of these bends are extremely narrow and allow only one vehicle to pass at a time.

Surrounded by dense tropical forests, the winding road is almost therapeutic. The road is also known as MDR181 or Kollimalai Ghat Road and gives you a blissful chance to visit the Agaya Gangaj waterfalls and a much-revered Shiva temple. Those with motion sickness should carry necessary medication. Be assured that the majestic views will be well worth the  inconvenience.

Neral-Matheran Road
If you’ve successfully managed to drive on this road, give yourself a medal already! Located in Maharashtra’s Rajgarh district, this serpentine road will make you break out in a cold sweat. This narrow road also lacks fencing and has a sudden elevation gain from 40m above sea level in Neral to 800m as you reach Matheran, after covering a distance of only 9km.

It is filled with sharp bends and has a steep ascent. The road has given a reality check to many drivers who claim to be experts behind the steering wheel. The road takes you to one of the most stunning and peaceful hill stations of Maharashtra, Matheran, which will reward your journey with ethereal beauty and charm.

Kinnaur Road
Carved out of sheer precipice at some points and often blocked by frequent landslides, the Kinnaur road has always been infamous for its cliff-hanging spots. It runs along a deadly gorge of river Baspa in Himachal’s Sangla Valley and connects Kinnaur district with the rest of the country. Bordering Tibet on its eastern end, the road offers numerous dramatic turns. 

Kinnaur’s quietness and wonderful landscape pretty much make up for its dry and cold weather. The mountainous region is pure delight for daredevil backpacking wayfarers. As you enter Kinnaur, the road turns narrow all of a sudden, and takes you on the edge of your seat. The valley remains closed from December to May due to heavy snowfall. Remember that the Kinnaur road could be closed anytime if it is not cleared of snow. Hence, it is advisable to do some homework before planning a road trip.

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