South India is a lush green paradise, well-known for its golden beaches, tea and coffee plantations, unforgettable backwaters and spice and paddy plantations. Tamil Nadu encompasses all of this and more. As a microcosm of the southern half of India, Tamil Nadu is rife with picturesque landscapes and enticing trails that make for the best bike rides. If you’re someone who enjoys the feel of the wind in your face and dirt under your wheels, then Tamil Nadu should be your number one choice. The bike routes here will treat you to gorgeous mountain ranges, beautiful seaside scenery and so much more. No to mention, they’re perfect for a quick weekend getaway. Here are some of our favourites.
Salem to Kolli Hills
The Kolli Hills or Kollimalai Hills as they’re known locally is a scenic hill station in Tamil Nadu’s Eastern Ghats. The range is famous for their 70 hairpin bends, which will get your heart pumping whether you’re an adventure junkie or biking novice. The Kollimalai Hills are famous for the AgayaGangai waterfalls, an ancient temple dedicated to Shiva and several pineapple farms that you can indulge in after your weary bike ride. The ideal route to this magnificent range is from Salem to Rasipuram and then finally to Kolli Hills. You could also begin your journey from Bangalore.
Total distance: 66 km
Best biking season: All year round
Chennai to Vellore
Vellore is one of many cities in Tamil Nadu reminiscent of the famed Dravidian architecture. According to Hindu mythology, Lord Muruga is believed to have appeared here. The Vellore Fort and the Srilakshmi Golden Temple are must visit sites while touring this ancient city. Travelling to Vellore will give you the chance to learn and appreciate more about Tamil Nadu’s past. It takes about four hours to get to Vellore, and it is one the best road trips from Chennai.
Total distance: 158 km
Best biking season: October to March
Chennai to Kumbakonam
Kumbakonam is another ancient city in Tamil Nadu that offers some of the best opportunities for road trips from Chennai. Once the pinnacle of medieval power, Kumbakonam is now a quaint temple town. Upon arrival, you will be greeted by colourful gopurams, dotting the city’s skyline. Kumbakonam is perfect for a two-day trip. It is also well known for Mahamaham – a Hindu festival that takes place every 12 years. You can head out to Kumbakonam from Chennai via the Grand Trunk Road or NH 45, and the journey will take you around 6.5 hours.
Total distance: 296 km
Best biking season: November to March
Chennai to Kanchipuram
Also called the “Golden City” and “City of Thousand Temples”, the city of Kanchipuram is one of the many World Heritage Sites of Tamil Nadu. Most popularly known for its silk sarees, Kanchipuram is a must visit for biking enthusiast and those looking for exciting road trips from Chennai. Among its many attractions, Kanchipuram is home to the Kaliasanathar Temple, the oldest in the city and the Vedanthangal Bird sanctuary. Having served as the capital to the Pallavas and the Cholas, Kanchipuram is bubbling with Dravidian history, culture and architecture. This temple city is only an hour and a half drive from Chennai via the Kanchipuram-Chennai Road.
Total distance: 75 km
Best biking season: September to March
Chennai to Kodaikanal
Kodaikanal or “Kodai” as it is affectionately called is the princess of Tamil Nadu’s hill stations. This cosy and serene town is filled with waterfalls, a huge lake perfect for cycling around, trekking and quaint little cafes that sell homemade chocolates. It is also a popular romantic getaway as well! The route to Kodaikanal via the Grand Southern Trunk Road or NH 45 will take you eight hours. The weather is lovely and don’t forget to stop for some Dindigul biryani en route.
Total distance: 527 km
Best biking season: September to May
Chennai to Yelagiri
Yelagiri is ideal for a peaceful holiday away from city life. The highway leading up to Yelagiri is a beautiful route and bikers consider it one of the best road trips from Chennai. The Punganoor artificial lake-cum-park is a must-see landmark and paragliding is very prominent here.
Total distance: 230 km
Best biking season: November to February
Chennai to Kanyakumari
Kanyakumari is the final destination on Tamil Nadu’s East Coast Road. The road starts at Chennai and travels along the Bay of Bengal up to Kanyakumari.There are so many sights to take in along this highway. With Kanyankumari as your final destination, you can start at Chennai and head toPulicat Lake to watch migratory flamingos. Then head to the temple town of Mahabalipuram, the quaint French colony of Pondicherry. Then proceed further to the Nataraja Temple at Chidambaram, the Dutch colony of Tranquebar. From there you can move to the famous churches of Velankani or Adam’s Bridge at Rameswaram.
Total distance: 800 km
Best biking season: December to January.
Now that you know the best bike routes in Tamil Nadu, it’s time you start planning for your next road trip! Remember to pack light for your vacation and if you’re passing by the ECR, be sure to stay at Grande Bay.