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Why You Should Visit The Himalayas In Winter

Why You Should Visit The Himalayas In Winter

access_time October 28, 2016 9949 views

You’ve been there during the summer—beautiful hill stations in the Himalayas, nestled between valleys and mountain passes, offering a cool respite from the scorching temperature of the plains. But when Sangeetha Sampath visited Mussoorie, Ranikhet, Auli, Manali and Chail in winter, she discovered winter secrets hidden by the Himalayas, from summer-time tourists. 

Bollywood’s obsession with foreign locations may have you thinking that to play in the snow and slide down powdery-white slopes, one needs a ticket to Switzerland. But it’s entirely possible to have snow fights, see incredible winter phenomena, run through snow-carpeted meadows in a chiffon sari, and indulge in winter sports, without ever leaving the country!

 

Mussoorie, Uttarakhand

Hills of Mussorie

Hills of Mussorie

Mussoorie, with its cool temperatures and misty air, is an evergreen summer vacation favourite. But Mussoorie’s been keeping a secret from us. A secret seen from only two places in the world, the other being Switzerland—The Winterline.

From mid-October till January, the setting sun paints the winter horizon with brilliant lines of mauve and crimson, against a deep blue sky. Imagine a 360-degree horizontal rainbow. This winter phenomenon does have an atmospheric explanation, but most people who witness it have another explanation: God is painting the sky.

Mussoorie Winter FAQS

Getting there

Fly into or take a train to Dehradun. Then hop into a bus or a car for a scenic 32 km journey. Be prepared for a delay in your journey because of snow.

Winter months

Mid-October to February

Snow forecast

December-January

Winter temperatures

Single-digit daytime temperatures and minus-degrees during the night.

What to pack

Your heaviest woolens, a warm, winter jacket, gloves, beanies, shawls, footwear that can weather the snow, dark glasses for the snow, a camera and extra batteries.

Package to Mussoorie

 

Ranikhet, Uttarakhand

Ranikhet from afar by Thetomcruise

Ranikhet from afar by Thetomcruise

Translate the word Ranikhet into English, and it’ll give you a hint of what to expect. Acres of lush, green meadows that go on for as far as the eye can see. When it snows, it’s like acres of Christmas cake frosting. The crisp, cold air, soft, powdery snow and tall pine, deodar and oak trees complete the winter experience.

This is the stuff of fairytales and storybooks, for which movie crews travel all the way to Europe. And good for them too! Ranikhet is best preserved as a local winter-time secret.

Ranikhet Winter FAQS:

Getting there

Ranikhet is 280 kms from New Delhi and about 65 kms from Nainital. You can take either take a train or an overnight bus from New Delhi, or a bus or jeep from Nainital.

Winter months

October to February

Snow forecast

December to February

Winter temperatures

From 0 to 10 degrees centigrade in the winter

What to pack

Your heaviest woolens, a warm, winter jacket, gloves, beanies, shawls, footwear that can weather the snow, dark glasses for the snow, a camera and extra batteries.

Package to Uttarakhand

 

Auli, Uttarakhand

Winter fun in Auli

Winter fun in Auli

Auli is pretty as a postcard during the summer months. But the rolling hills and perfect gradients also make it THE skiing destination of India. In fact, some Westerners say skiing here is on par with some of the best in Europe.

Advanced skiers can look forward to the unspoiled terrain and perfect snow conditions. If you are a beginner, Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigan (GMVN) provides equipment and conducts 7-day and 14-day courses that will make a skier out of you.

Auli Winter FAQS:

Getting there

Take the train to Rishikesh, and then a bus or car to Auli, which is about 235 kms away. If travelling by air, the nearest airport is Dehradun, about 300 kms away.

Winter months

October to Match. Skiing season is December to March.

Snow forecast

December to February

Winter temperatures

Average minimum temperature during winter is about 4 degrees.  But it regularly drops to below 0 degrees centigrade.

What to pack: Your heaviest woolens, a warm, winter jacket, gloves, beanies, shawls, footwear that can weather the snow, dark glasses for the snow, a camera and extra batteries.

Package to Uttarakhand

 

Manali, Himachal Pradesh

 

White water rafting in Manali

White water rafting in Manali

If there’s one place in the Himalayas that the rest of the country associates the words ‘hill station’ with, it’s Manali. The population of this town swells manifold during the summer months.

Thankfully, you’ll have the place to yourself in winter. Good thing because you need a lot of space when you’re inside a big, round balloon hurtling down a mountainside. Called Zorbing, this is just one of the many activities on offer here. Try your hand at paragliding, high-altitude trekking and for the very brave, ice-cold river rafting. Of course, when it snows, you can also ski.

Manali Winter FAQS:

Getting there

Manali is over 500 kms from Delhi and is accessible by overnight bus. You can also hire a car or a jeep.

Winter months

Mid-October to mid-March.

Snow forecast

December to February

Winter temperatures

Mostly in single digits and frequently fall to below zero at night

What to pack

Your heaviest woolens, a warm, winter jacket, gloves, beanies, shawls, footwear that can weather the snow, dark glasses for the snow, a camera and extra batteries.

Package to Manali

 

Chail, Himachal Pradesh

 

A historic tree on the highest cricket ground in the world, Chail

A historic tree on the highest cricket ground in the world, Chail

Imagine yourself in a room at the Chail Palace, sitting by the fireplace, a book in one hand, and a mug of hot chocolate in the other, while outside the great, big window, snow falls lightly, turning the russet and gold landscape whiter by the minute.

Chail is a storybook-perfect destination. Known for having the highest cricket ground in the world, it is breathtaking in every season. But in the colder months, its charm is multiplied by the snow and mist, providing visitors with a glimpse of the kind of winters described in old English novels.

Chail Winter FAQs:

Getting there

Chail is about 60 kms from Shimla and 120 kms from Chandigarh. Busses and taxis run between the two cities and Chail.

Winter months

Mid-October to March

Snow forecast

December to February

Winter temperatures

The maximum temperature hovers around 10 degrees, while minimum temperatures fall below 2 degrees centigrade.

What to pack

Your heaviest woolens, a warm, winter jacket, gloves, beanies, shawls, footwear that can weather the snow, dark glasses for the snow, a camera and extra batteries.

Book a holiday to Himachal Pradesh

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About author

Sangeetha

Sangeetha Sampath has three recurring dreams: One: To visit every state in India. Two: To fill her passport with stamps. And three: That instead of 30 days annual leave, her generous company has given her 1 year (paid!) leave. But then she wakes up and realises she has to go work as the Creative Director of an advertising agency in Bangalore. Long days indeed.

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