Imagine waking on a misty morning, wrapping a fog sheet all over, you walk over the lanes just in search of the chill that inscribes- winter is here!
There are many among us who just love to hide beneath quilt or enjoy the aroma of a hot coffee during winters but some daring ones pack their bags and head to the place where they can challenge the freeze and enjoy the flakes of Snowfall.
When we talk about winter holidays in India, several eye-catching and picturesque places, common and uncommon, emerge on our mindscape. But why repeat same places again and again. This time do something different to quench your thirst and discover what sets below mentioned names apart from others.
If you like to give your skiing skills a test or are a freaking skiing beginner then Auli is an ultimate stopover. With a deep in temperature, the place comes alive like a dreamland. Known as ‘bugyal’, in local dialect, it lies enroute to Badrinath (just 16 km away from Joshimath). Though Auli is full of panoramic sights, from forest surrounding to lofty peaks, but what makes it one of the best snow destinations in India are its 2500 to 3000 meters high skiing slopes that give tough competition to various international ski places.
Pahalgam, Jammu Kashmir
Perched at a height of 8,957 ft above the sea level, Pahalgam is one of the pristine snow beauties in the country. Everything about this natural splendor is exciting: riverside location, snow-capped peaks, freezing weather conditions and surrounding calmness as well as skiing. But the real magic of Pahalgam lies within its quiet long treks that provide you a tranquil snowy escape away from the madness of mainland.
Gulmarg, Jammu Kashmir
What better location you can think to see snow fall in India other than Gulmarg? Situated around 880 km away from the national capital, tourists can easily access this pristine snow beauty from Srinagar. Snowy peaks in the backdrop, freezing winds, blooming varieties of flowers and vast snow cover for skiing as well as a breathtaking ride in world’s highest cable car (Gondola) are not-to-be missed charms. A trip to Gulmarg is, however, incomplete without enjoying Kashmiri dishes and a visit to Alpathar Lake and Tangmarg – a beautiful tourist spot just 1 km ahead.
Patnitop, Jammu Kashmir
No idea of snow winter holidays in India is complete without mentioning Patnitop, a tourist point in the district of Udhampur in Jammu and Kashmir. This hilltop place is quite close to Pir Panjal range and is nestled in Lower Himalayan Range. Thus it is full of abundance of natural beauty, revitalizing sights and of white snow cover. Along with skiers and nature lovers, Patnitop also enthrall trekkers. It will take around 3 hours to reach this exotic destination from Jammu.
Manali, Himachal Pradesh
Despite being one of the most sought hill stations in India, the appeal of Manali never fades among tourists. Its emerald meadows, crystal clear rivers and the dancing drama of snowy slopping mounts and blue sky over the horizon are just unparallel. And with the onset of winters, the appeal only grows giving tourists’ pleasure of skiing and ice-skating. Situated at a distance of 270 km north of Shimla, Manali is nestled in River Beas Valley at a height of 2,050 meters above sea level.
Shimla, Himachal Pradesh
If you are running short of time but wants to enjoy snowfall in its full bloom then Shimla is an excellent place to throng. Wait till mid-December and you will see the place in a new avatar with a sheet of white cover fetching hordes of vacationers and honeymooners. Being the main gateway to Himachal Pradesh, explorers can also extend their journey to various other destinations of the state like Kufri, Manali, and Naldehra from Shimla.
Planning a trip to Nainital in winters? A good choice if you want to enjoy the chill factor around Delhi. Lying 274 km from the national capital city, Nainital not only serves as a refreshing weekend escape but is also quite popular among newly-wed couples. But the best time to visit the place is December to January when Nanda Devi Peak looks stunning in a white cover and you can feel the chill in the breeze while following snow-covered trekking routes. A leisure walk along the iconic Naina Lake is also a must thing to do to complete your hoary experience in Nainital.
Kufri, Himachal Pradesh
Kufri, a skiing hotspot, is one of the popular winter holiday destinations in India in comparison to other places. This little quaint yet captivating region of Himachal Pradesh transforms into a heaven during winters. The white snow spread all over gives a very refreshing and chilly look. And cherries on the pasty cake are the tall deodars and pines as well as the postcard beauty of the surroundings.
Nestled on the shores of Goriganga River, Munsiyari is a new discovery for tourists in Uttarakhand. With the name that means ‘place with snow’, it is full of mountains, glaciers, trekking routes and awe-inspiring natural beauty, making it a paradise for explorers, high-altitude trekkers and nature lovers. If you want to explore the richness of Johar Valley then it is the place to throng. Munsiyari is situated 125 km away from Pithorgarh and the enroute is full of beautiful panorama and cascades.
A drive of 24 km from Mussoorie will take you to Dhanaulti, another picturesque hill station of Uttarakhand. Perched high on 2286 meters, the place is known for its tranquility and dark beauty of deodar, oak and rhododendron forests. Though it is a round-the year hangout place but if you really want to enjoy Dhanaulti in its full bloom then winter is the best period. With white carpet below your feet and a canopy of green shade at your eye’s horizon, have some mood-setting snow activities like tic-tac snow or sticky glue.
Sonmarg, Jammu & Kashmir
Sonmarg is one of those few hill stations in India, where snow can be witnessed till April (occasionally). Thanks to its high altitude that keeps the snow from melting for longest of time, this hill destination lets the snow lovers enjoy an extended period of winter in India. Sonmarg is located about 80kms fro Srinagar, which is another winter destination in India. It is inevitable to encounter road clocks and landslides during the heavy snow season and therefore it is advised to check the weather report prior planning a trip to Sonmarg.
If you are snow person, then there is no better destination than North Sikkim to quench your inexhaustible desire to play and stay in the snow. Yumthang, Nathu La, Tsomgo Lake are the main attractions in the winter season in North Sikkim for those who are prepared to attune themselves to slightly harsh climate as the reward to this small sacrifice comes in a way of spectacular views, incredible nature’s beauty and indescribable thrill. Also, it would be appropriate to point out here that North Sikkim is one of those places where snow can be found almost throughout the year.
Ladakh, Jammu & Kashmir
The moon-scaped Ladakh is probably one of the best places in India to witness snowfall. The thick blanket of snow can be seen all over Ladakh between October and March. Where one can witness a curb on many routine activities in other hill stations; in Ladakh wider gates for adventure open to adrenaline junkies. Regions like Zanskar become hotspots for winter treks as the river, lakes and waterfalls freeze during this time of the year.
Khajjiar, Himachal Pradesh
It’s amazing to see the meadows of Khajjiar blanketed in snow. A good amount of snow blankets the land that remains lush in the summer season. A short distance from the beautiful hill station of Dalhousie in Himachal Pradesh is Khajjiar. Mostly referred as the Switzerland of India, this little hilly destination is perfect to enjoy the snowfall in India. It has small pond that also freezes during the winter and the surrounding mountains and trees all turn white as well. Khajjiar becomes one of the most scenic places in India after it covers by snow.
If going to touristy hill station to see snow is not in your mind, then Katao in Sikkim is certainly the answer to your prayer. Katao is an offbeat destination and can be a great place to plan a day-outing from Lachung here. It is situated about 144kms from Gangtok and is like a long kept secret of Sikkim. Mostly covered in snow till late March, Katao can be visited only when an army permit is issued.
Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh
Winter in Tawang is probably the best time to visit. Covered in snow, Tawang absolutely looks like the piece of heaven has fallen on earth. The place is replete with nature’s beauty and if that is not enough, Tawang also house 400 years old Buddhist Monastery that catches the eyes of the tourists. The quintessential part of the trip would be to visit the Sela Pass, which is situated at an altitude of 13, 700 feet.
Yes, the Tungnath temple closes down during the winter but nothing can stop the snow lovers from visiting this beautiful valley in Uttarakhand. Winter on the contrary is an ideal time to climb up to Chandrashila to witness one of the most spectacular views in India. The trek becomes difficult to trudge but is absolutely rewarding. Also, the temple of Tungnath, though closed looks absolutely scenic being covered in snow.
Lava, West Bengal
A lesser-known destination of West Bengal, Lava is amongst the best places to see snowfall in India. During the winter season, this paradise of tropical deciduous and alpine vegetation turns to a fairyland that matches to any snow lover’s fantasy. An enthralling view of Mt. Kanchenjunga can also be attained from Lava and that actually adds another feather in its cap. Trekking and bird-watching are the additional activities one can take actively indulge in while holidaying at this quaint hamlet.