Winter in India is an interesting experience, no matter where you live.
If you’re from the south, the weather barely changes. The north of India, on the other hand, gets the brisk cold air and gloomy atmosphere, accompanied by the occasional dose of weak winter sunlight. However, there are very few locations in the country that receive snow, turning the bitter chill of the season into a winter wonderland. If you hope to experience winter in all its glory, then here’s a rundown of the places to visit to see snow this year!
Jammu and Kashmir: While it’s always good to keep one eye on the news reports while planning a trip to Jammu and Kashmir, a trip to this state is a great way to witness the pristine beauty of snowfall. Often called “Jannat” or heaven, Dal lake is one of the best places to witness snow, as it also has the Himalayan peaks as a backdrop. Gulmarg, a few hours away from the capital of Sri Nagar is also a great winter spot, and tourists can even stay at the iconic “Bobby” cottage, where the 1973 hit Bollywood film of the same name was shot. Pahalgam, at a height of 9000 feet above sea level, is also the ideal place to go skiing and enjoy other fun winter activities. Of course if you’re in Kashmir you can’t miss Leh-Ladakh in winter, a perfect location for bikers looking for a great road trip.
Sikkim - Sikkim is another wonderful state to visit during the winters as you are guaranteed to see snow if you go anytime between late December and early February. Nestled in the North-Eastern part of the Himalayas, it is a favourite amongst winter sports enthusiasts and amateurs alike. Gurudongmar Lake, while frozen solid in the winter, and Nathula Pass, are the main tourist attractions, while Yumthang Valley is a great place to find options to ski and sled in the snow. You can also find snow at Lachung, a small town in Sikkim, with a perfect view of the Himalayas in the distance.
Himachal Pradesh - One of the most serene and popular locations for winter vacations, Himachal Pradesh has a variety of options for tourists to visit. Manali, the jewel of the state, is a bustling town and one of the most popular hill station resort towns. Located beside the Beas River, Manali receives an abundance of snow in the months of January and February. You can also visit a multitude of stunning temples, waterfalls and cute cafes, and enjoy a hot chocolate to warm the soul. A few hours away from Manali is Rohtang Pass, which connects Kullu Valley with Lahaul and Spiti Valleys and is an excellent place to go sledding and eat hot bowls after bowls of Maggi! Mcleod Ganj, close to Dharamshal,a is also a wonderful option to make memories in the snow! Known for its large Tibetan population and as the home of the Dalai Lama, it has now become a popular holiday destination, known for its cafes and momos.
Arunachal Pradesh - Tawang, in Arunachal Pradesh requires a little bit of effort to get to, but is also stunning in the snow. Known for its natural beauty and buddhist monasteries, it is ideal for a serene snowy vacation. Snowfall usually starts by mid November and temperatures frequently drop to sub zero. You’ll definitely see enough snow to make a snowman or two. You can also visit fun destinations like Nuranagang falls, Sela pass and Madhuri Lake, all close to Tawang. If you want to go even more further inwards and experience snowfall in excess, Mechukha Valley is located almost 500 kms from Dibrugarh airport and the journey will take you through thick forest and dangerous roads. If you’re a true daredevil adventurer, then a visit to this snowbound valley is a must!
Uttarakhand - Himachal Pradesh’s neighbouring state also has multiple scenic towns and valleys to spend a blissful snow filled vacation. Auli is known for its apple orchards and stunning views of the snow-capped Nanda Devi mountains. It’s a great place to camp out and trek, especially in the snow. Another adventure lover's paradise. Munisyari, near the Kumaon hills, is also known for its peace and serenity, specifically in snowy weather. Near the riverside, you can also take part in some small-time fishing, provided the river’s not frozen! Chopta Valley, part of the Kedarnath wildlife sanctuary, usually receives heavy snowfall during the months of January and February. It’s scenic views and landscapes are sure to make for a peaceful winter vacation.
West Bengal - While you wouldn’t think West Bengal as the optimal place to catch a glimpse of snow, there are certain parts of the state where you can enjoy a snow filled experience. Lava is a small town in West Bengal where visitors can enjoy snow and find fantastic views of mount Kanchenjunga, while also being in a fun place to ski, trek and hike. Lava is also a well-known spot amongst amateur bird watchers, so if you’re avidly into birds, this is the place for you!
While winter can be cold, gloomy and depressing for many, the advent of snow does make everything better. So if you want to enjoy winter sports, go on mountainous adventures, or just enjoy a cup of hot tea while gazing out into the pristine beauty of a white winter, then a visit to one, or all, of these places in India is a must!