This India, or the Republic of India to give it its official title, is a land that conjures up a wealth of romantic and mystical images. The seventh-largest country in the world offers much to the explorer who ventures to delve beneath its spiritual shroud, to unpick the magic and discover the real essence of a nation that is many things to many people. Come and join the ERA as we embark upon 20 days of wonderful rallying around this must-see land, encountering everything that India has to offer and leaving with your own pearls; unforgettable memories of this ancient and intriguing land.
Many hours have been put in by our route planners to ensure that the rally will encounter a wealth of the cultural, spiritual, natural and gastronomic delights that this wonderful country has to offer, whilst of course driving on some of the most remarkable, and least well-known roads that traverse this mythical country while safe in the knowledge that the entire ERA team will provide the mechanical, medical and logistical support for which the organisation is renowned. Join us on this enigmatic and possibly life-changing adventure; rally with us to discover your own Pearls of India!
The event is open for vintageant cars built before 1948 and for Classic cars of a type built before 1975. Cars of a later date but unchanged mechanical specification will be considered at the Organisers’ discretion. Classes based on engine size will subdivide these categories.
The event is suitable for both novice and more experienced crews. An easy to follow Tulip Route Book will be supplied. Our experienced team of officials will be at your disposal at all times to support you and we will provide hints and tips on navigation.
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This event is open to HERO-ERA Club and Premier Members
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*Doesn’t include Peking to Paris and some one day events
Starting in Mumbai, the fabulous Taj Mahal Palace hotel will see us on our way; a venue that is well versed in hosting royalty and celebrities and which overlooks the gateway to India, an appropriate location for a path that will see us progress through many beautiful parts of this country, before finishing back in Mumbai. Along the way, the rally will take in the ancient holy city of Nashik, with its mountain-top village of ancient caves, the lavish luxuries of Udaipur, the domineering sandstone architecture of Jaisalmer and the contrasting pink buildings of the city of Jaipur. We will experience the hustle and bustle of India’s populace, particularly in cities such as Agra, but at the same time enjoy its tranquillity as the same heaving streets give way to its many magnificent architectural icons, such as the Taj Mahal. As infamous as India is for its dense population, it manages to strike a balance with serene and calming rural spaces, as one would expect for a nation enveloped in spirituality. Our route will encounter just such serenity at places like Khajuraho and the Bandhavgarh national park, where one can observe ancient temples and monuments, as well as the magnificent Tigers that are now protected as fiercely as India’s man-made wonders.
Mumbai is one of the world's “mega-cities”, that is one of a population greater than 10 million; only Delhi boasts a larger number of inhabitants. Departing from what is known as the Gateway to India on the west coast, the adventure will begin with a journey inland and north to the ancient and holy city of Nashik, getting the first experience of India’s varied and beautiful rural landscape along the way.
Having climbed to 2000 feet above sea level the previous day, the second day of exploration will continue to head north and descend back down to somewhere closer to sea level once that evening's rest stop at Vadodara is reached. The day will begin in the shadow of the vineyards of India’s wine capital, which may be one of the first secrets offered up by this land, and end on the banks of the Vishwa Mitri river.
A day that will see the route traverse across the fertile plains that lie to the south of the Mahi river. Water will form a theme of the day, as the destination for the evening, and the place of our first rest day is Udaipur, known as the city of lakes. The route to this magical city will likely pass by many of the temples that occupy the area, as well as many water-ways.
The City of the Lakes offers much to the explorer, with a rich tapestry of history just waiting to be uncovered. The ancient capital of the kingdom of Mewar, the timeline of the city can be charted back to ancient times, or more recent colonial rule by the British, to its modern time of independence. It is also culturally rich, with galleries, gardens, fairs, and festivals and has been described as the most romantic city in India.
The Golden City is the target for day five, but not before conquering the heights of the luscious Aravalli mountain range and the expanse of the Thar Desert. The route will take the rally to its most westerly point, close to the Pakistani border and upon arrival, the looming sandstone walls of the ‘fortress on the hill’ will be an excellent and welcoming spectacle for weary travellers. Indeed, under the gilt-edged light of the evening sun, the city will present itself at its mystical best.
In the golden light of the morning we leave the sanctuary of the ancient fortress, to head back into the Thar Desert and signal a change of direction as the route heads east. The day will continue the previous days theme of adventurous driving roads, through the dunes and arid landscape in an area that sometimes only receives 4 inches of a rainfall a year but, in spite of this, is home to many different species of wildlife including the much revered Thari Cow.
Leaving Jodhpur, we will cross the Luni river and begin our escape from the desert. The increasing population sees a direct correlation with an increase of roads, and our route planners have been hard at work devising a route that takes in both the best scenery and sights, as well as the best driving roads of the region. After driving all day, we will end up in Jaipur, known as the Pink City thanks to the dominant colour of most of its architecture.
After ‘Riding into Jaipur’ the previous evening a rest day will allow everyone to enjoy the city, which, as the Paul McCartney song tells us, is a delight. A UNESCO world heritage city, it contains numerous individual UNESCO sites, including the Amber Fort and Jantar Mantar. The city is famed for culture and cuisine, occupied by many artisans, but anyone in need of a bit of retail therapy, after a week on the road, can visit the World Trade Park, which even if you aren’t into the shopping, is worth a visit for the dramatic modern architecture alone.
Time waits for no man, especially rally time, and after a day’s R+R clocks must be reset as our caravan of motorised explorers continues the journey east. Indeed, with such a plethora of culture, history and landscapes on show we could all be forgiven for forgetting that this is indeed about the driving, but with a carefully curated route through the state of Uttar Pradesh, thoughts will again be firmly fixed on the wheel. The last stop of the day is in the city of Agra, most famous as being the site of the Taj Mahal; the most recognisable Indian Icon of all.
Leaving the incredible pearl white mausoleum of the Taj Mahal behind, the rally travels through further incredible scenery as it climbs up to finish the day in the town of Khajuraho. Less populated than Agra and Jaipur, but no less significant as it is home to an incredible collection of Hindu monuments, famous for the ever so slightly erotic sculptures that adorn them – well, this is the land of the Kama Sutra!
Heading south now, away from civilisation the rally will cross several national and wildlife parks travelling through incredible forests. If the theme from previous days was one of India’s architectural wonders, day 11 will enter the domain of one of its natural wonders, namely the Tiger. Once viciously and unscrupulously hunted, this noble animal is now protected, and the Bandhavgarh Reserve has one of the densest populations of Tiger in India, not to mention Leopard and Deer.
The national parks and reserves are again the theme of the adventure for day 12, providing awe-inspiring driving as we travel as guests through the home of the Tiger. Indeed, the Kanha reserve is the very same forest that provided the setting for Rudyard Kipling’s, The Jungle Book. Shere Khan and his subjects will likely be hiding, but it is awe-inspiring and somewhat humbling to be sharing their kingdom and enjoying a landscape that has ultimately inspired so many generations.
The route continues to head south from the wilds of Kanha and whilst there is still parkland to be negotiated, the trees and hills will eventually give way to metropolis once more as the days route concludes in Nagpur, one of the worlds fastest-growing cities and according to a recent survey one of the best cities in India to live in. Famous for Oranges the city sits right in the centre of the Indian Peninsula, the epi-centre of our adventure.
Two weeks into the trip the journey will head back into the south of the country, with the promise of a rest day on the horizon. There is a lot of rallying to be done before retiring for the evening though, with a good stint that will take us to the city of Hyderabad and the most southerly point of the trip so far.
A large city on the banks of the Musi River, Hyderabad sits high on hilly terrain, surrounded by artificial lakes that actually predate the founding of the city itself. As with many Indian cities, Hyderabad has many faces and which side of it one discovers will remain a mystery until it becomes time to leave. It enjoys UNESCO status, but not for its architecture or historical sites, this time it is for its cuisine and so will be of particular interest for the gastronomes.
Rested and well fed, it is time to continue on the last part of the expedition through India. After time spent amongst the busier streets of Hyderabad, the route will see us travel into more rural areas again, crossing the Krishna river and traversing the well-watered landscape that sits between that and the Tungabhadra river. Hampi itself is a smaller town, and sits adjacent to the Hampi Temples, another UNESCO listed group of monuments that date back to the 14th century and the pilgrimage centre of the Hindu religion.
After reaching the most southerly point of the trip the previous day, the rally turns westward and onwards through the Ansi National Park and towards the famous coastline of Goa. If, for some inexplicable reason, the driving for the day doesn’t impress, the final destination adjacent to the golden sands and beautiful waters of the tropical coast will, as the rally is welcomed by the luxurious Taj Resort and all of us can enjoy the sunset out across the Arabian Sea safe in the knowledge that there is one final rest day to enjoy upon the morrow.
You could leave the sanctuary of the hotel and venture into the Ansi National Park, or you could take full advantage of the tranquil surroundings of the magnificent hotel and spa. After nearly three weeks of travel, culture, mysticism and history it is probably a fair bet that the beach will be calling.
The penultimate day of travel takes the rally north again, back towards its origin. Hugging the incredible coastline and dipping into the Chandoli national park and Koyna sanctuary it will likely be another awe-inspiring and breath-taking day at the wheel, devoured with new enthusiasm after such luxury and relaxation the previous day.
The final day of travelling and a last drive through the incredible Indian realm. The route will take in more nature reserves, parkland and varying topography, as well as passing monuments and ancient architecture that will by this point have become a calling card of this adventure. The day may be slightly shorter, but the driving will be no less stunning, and at the finish, there will undoubtedly be time for reflection on a journey that will have been so much more than the sum of its parts.
*Itinerary subject to change