Dashing thru the snow
For those who like the colour white, skiing and other wonderful sporty activities, here are some places to visit this winter
With snowy mountains tops and a skiing school here, Gulmarg is the place to enjoy some kahwa as the white carpet weaves its magical spell. It has been rated as Asia’s seventh best ski destination.
So much to do — snowboarding, tobogganing and heli-skiing, take a Gondola cable ride and even trek, if you are brave enough. You will get to see the highest mountain peak in India—Mount Kanchenjunga—if the sun appears while you are there. You can also see the Maharani Temple dedicated to Shiva and Parvati and St Mary’s Church, which was built in 1902 during the British rule. Or visit the resort where the famous movie Bobby starring Dimple Kapadia and Rishi Kapoor was shot.
It has been called the ‘meadow of gold’ as a little sunshine lights it up beautifully. With glaciers, frozen lakes and rays bouncing back and forth, this is quite an ‘Insta-worthy’ view. You can visit the Thajiwas Glacier there. There are trekking routes to Krishansar, Gangabal, Vishansar and Gadsar lakes from here. These lakes have snow trout and nrown trout.
Ladakh: Chadar Trek
This is for the truly brave ones. This 9-day trek across the frozen Zanskar river is from January to March. It is extremely challenging and not suitable for amateurs. The Stok Kangri Trek is another challenging one in the area.
This is a hill station where the winter is not very harsh. What you can enjoy here—the lake, drives to viewpoints, mall road with its candle shops, the vegetable market. As the area is surrounded by lakes, it has been called the ‘lake district of India’. You can take the ropeway and go to the snow point to enjoy a white view. You can also drive up to Pangot to relish some tea there in the small stalls.
The list is never complete without the mention of Auli. Skiing resorts, skiing championship and festivals, this is among the favourite on a holiday goers list. The slopes are suitable for professionals as well as novices.
Lying on the way to Badrinath, it offers panoramic views of Nanda Devi, Kamat Kamet and Mana Parvat. One can also take a drive to the holy Joshimath, which is quite close by.
This small town in Uttarakhand at the base of the Himalayas is quite popular as a base camp for mountaineers and trekkers. It’s literally translated as a place with snow. And the scenic views make it a ‘little Kashmir’ for tourists.
Located along the ancient salt route to Tibet, it is the entrance to Johar Valley. From here, one can follow the path of Gori Ganga river to its source at the Milam Glacier. What you can see here — Thamari Kund and Darkot. Madkot is another popular spot with hot water springs.
Manali and Rohtang Pass
Who doesn’t know Manali in India? Among the most popular places to find snow in India, this offers a stunning view of the Himalayan peaks. With gorgeous valleys, here one normally finds people coming to ski, climb the mountains and trek. Rohtang Pass tends to get crowded with traffic jams and blockages. So, it’s wise to Google before embarking on this holiday.
About a one-hour drive from Simla, this has many skiing resorts. The views here are to die for, as are the drives. With snow-capped Himalayas, dense forests and apple orchards, it makes for a good holiday. You can go around and explore the Jalori Pass too from here. Other places to see around are Kufri, Phagu, Mashobra.
Some parts of this state are called the evergreen snow region as you find snow here throughout the year. Where you are most likely to find a white carpet–Tsomgo Lake, Nathu La and Yumthang valley. And for visiting most places in Sikkim you need a permit which can be obtained at Gangtok.
The catch is that Yumthang is prone to blockages, if there is heavy snowfall and you must check before heading here. It is home to the Shingba Rhododendron Sanctuary, which houses over 24 species of the state flower — rhododendron. The winter is pretty harsh here and there is only a forest rest house.
You will need all the warm clothes you have. The good part is the breathtaking views and lifelong memories.
Nathu La is a pass that connects Sikkim with China’s Tibet Autonomous Region and is part of the ancient silk route. In Tibetan, Nathu means ‘listening’ and La is ‘pass’. The oval-shaped Tsomgo lake is frozen during the winter. With each season, it reflects different colours and is worshipped by the locals.
Here, the sunrise and sunset are to die for. The little town has lots of snow and there is a slow, sleepy side to the place. Evenings are normally about bonfires and music. Or you could go to the small market which houses small cafes cum pubs. The beer and the momos are pretty good. Besides the snow-clad mountains, there are waterfalls, treks, a 400-year old monastery and the highest point in the area — Sela Pass.