The Indian peninsula is marked by a vast stretch of diverse topography, and when the mercury plummets, there is no shortage of places in this South Asian country to explore. During winter, several places in India are enhanced by a blanket of glistening white snow, whilst many more boast a blend of pleasant and fresh weather accompanied by mild sunshine. As winter is around the corner, here’s our top pick of places to visit in India this season.
1. Auli, Uttarakhand
Dotted with the apple orchards, old oaks and pine trees there is no dearth of natural beauty in Auli. Apart from skiing you can also go for numerous treks in the hills of Garhwal Himalayas and enjoy the spellbinding views of the snow-draped mountains. Auli is a popular hill resort in the Himalayan range dating back to 8th Century AD.
With snow-draped peaks on every side and tranquility abound, Auli is the ultimate winter destination. The major draw is of course the wealth of skiing resorts. You can also go trekking to the snow meadow – Gurson Bugyal or pristine Himalayas at Kwani Bugyal; visit the Auli artificial lake; ride Asia’s longest cable car, and enjoy the 360 degree view of the snow-covered peaks of the Himalayas – Nanda Devi, Hathi Parvat, Kamet, Trishul and Mana Parvat. And if skiing is your cup of tea, there’s always the National Championship of Skiing, which takes place in January in Auli.
1. Nainital, Uttarakhand
If you are in the chilly reaches of Uttarakhand as the winter sets in, then head to Nanital that is blessed with plentiful lakes and abundant beauty. It does get cold in winter, being surrounded by Himalayan ranges, but it’s also mesmerizing. One plus point is that the weather is not as harsh as found further north, so even on the coldest days you can enjoy going outside in the snow. You can go lake hopping, admire the snow-laden Himalayan peaks from the Snow Viewpoint, go shopping at mall road, or get up-close with exotic birds and animals at the zoo.
3. Manali, Himachal Pradesh
With towering snow-capped Himalayan peaks and stunning valleys, Manali is a beautiful place year-round, and perhaps at its best in winter. This hill station is a getaway for adventure sports, where you can indulge in skiing, zorbing, horse riding, paragliding and tobogganing. Besides, you can spend a day or two exploring the nearby hamlets of Kasol, Kullu and Rohtang, go trekking or mountaineering to Pin Parvati Pass, Hampta Pass, Chandertal lake and the GreatHimalayan National Park, or take a hot sulphur bath at Manikaran, perfect in chilly weather.
4. Gulmarg and Sonamarg, Jammu & Kashmir
Gulmarg is magical year-round, but when winter arrives, it takes on new hues with the entire town blanketed in white. Lofty snow-covered peaks, frozen lakes, ice-glazed trees and white-blanketed landscape make it a skiing arena in winters. You can indulge in a smorgasbord of snowy activities, like skiing, snowboarding and trekking. Enjoy the panoramic view of this winter wonderland by cable car.
5. Shillong, Meghalaya
This capital city of Meghalaya is a picturesque hill station that is in full bloom during winter. Packed with ancient megaliths, beautiful waterfalls, lakes, dense forests, and ancient culture and heritage, it is a fascinating place to visit in winter. In addition to the city sights, like Laitlum Canyons, Shillong Peak, Don Bosco Museum, Umaim Lake and Elephant falls, you can visit the nearby places, like Asia’s cleanest village – Mawylnnong, go trekking at David Scott Trail or angling at Dawki.