10 Places With Snowfall In India You Can Visit This Winter!
Winter is here! Celebrate December in style by taking a family trip to these postcard-worthy, tourist places that are nothing short of snowy escapades. And you don't have to go far - they're in India!
By Kerina De Floras
"Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods, fill up with snow." - Robert Frost
It’s that time of the year again! Winter holidays are closing in, so why not take that long-planned trip with your family? It’s the perfect reason to experience winter’s magic - snow! Like the first snowfall you witnessed probably left you mesmerised as you took in the white landscape. Or you still dream of feeling the light, white flakes on the palm of your hand for the first time! Either way, this read will have you packing your snow boots! So, this December head out to these 10 best snowfall places in India, and you’ll thank us later!
1. Sonmarg, Jammu Kashmir:
Sonmarg, literally translates to ‘Meadow of Gold’- 'Son' meaning gold and 'Marg' meaning meadow. A beautiful hill-station, it is one of the best places to witness snowfall in India. This picturesque town at 2800 metres above sea-level, is home to the Sindh river which meanders through the meadows, adding charm to the snow-clad town.
Take a flight or train to Srinagar, about 80 km from Sonmarg. From there hop on any bus plying to the town.You can also choose to rent a car to drive down twisted lanes as you soak in the majestic views of snow-capped mountains.
In and Around:
- Take in panoramic views of the frozen Satsar and Baltan lakes.
- Head to Krishnasar Lake for trout fishing.
- Camp at the Baltal Valley on the banks of the Sindh river
- Remember to take the kids to a walnut orchard and discover how these nuts are grown and picked.
- Head to Nilagrad and be enthralled by the gushing river and its lush green banks. Locals head here every week for a dip, as the waters are believed to have healing powers.
2. Gulmarg, Jammu and Kashmir:
This ‘Meadow of Flowers’ is a beautiful skiing destination situated right at the Pir Panjal range in the Himalayas. Pine and fir forests line the slopes in this beautiful town which looks like a scene from a Christmas movie! Pack layers of warm clothes as winters can get chilly!
Srinagar is the nearest airport, 57 km away. Buses operate to Gulmarg from Srinagar, Sonmarg and other places in Jammu. If you opt to drive, prepare for some steep, winding roads uphill.
In and Around:
- Head to Highland Park Slope and try winter sports like skiing and snowboarding.
- Take a Gondola ride to Aphrawat peak and get a bird’s eye view of Gulmarg.
- Visit Alpathar Lake, 13 km from Gulmarg for a visual treat of the frozen lake. You can trek here from Gulmarg or from Aphrawat peak.
- Enjoy a quiet afternoon with the kids at the banks of Ningle Nallah, a scenic mountain stream about 10 km from Gulmarg, or take them to the popular Children’s Park with gorgeous views.
- Visit the Maharani temple, Baba Reshi shrine and St. Mary’s church.
- Time your visit with the Kashmir Snow festival, from 24 to 26 December, and take part in skiing, snow sledging, snow-boarding and ice-skating events. A food festival is also part of the celebrations.
3. Auli, Uttarakhand:
Nestled in the Himalayas is this beautiful hill station, home to the Nanda Devi peak and a great snow destination in India. The State conducts various skiing festivals and championships which is popular among tourists. Be blown away this winter, by Auli’s snowy slopes and pristine lakes.
Dehradun is the nearest airport,149 km from Auli. Rishikesh is the closest railway station, 264 km away. Buses and taxis are available from Rishikesh, Joshimath, Srinagar, Chamoli and other places.
In and Around:
- For stunning views of the snow-clad mountains, take the cable-car from Joshimath to Auli.
- Go skiing on these white, scenic slopes set amidst breathtaking mountain ranges.
- Meditate at the Shankaracharya Math or indulge in the Tapovan hot spring at Joshimath.
- Trek to Gurso Bugyal and try spotting these peaks - Nanda Devi, Trishul and Dron.
- Walk with nature at Nanda Devi National Park, a World Heritage site. It home to the Himalayan black bear and snow leopard.
- Take a holy dip at Nandprayag, the sacred confluence of the Mandakini and Alaknanda rivers.
4. Manali, Himachal Pradesh:
One of the most popular hill stations in India that lies in the Kullu valley, Manali always manages to charm its tourists with its jaw-dropping views, a magical mist hanging in the air, extraordinary scenic beauty and tranquillity. Museums, temples, little villages, upscale streets – Manali has it all. Plan your visit with the Winter Carnival for a cultural experience. The 5-day festival combines both cultural and sports events. Band performances, food festivals, skiing competitions, folk dances, street plays, adventure sports - you can witness them all in one place. Know more about it here.
Land at Bhuntan Airport, about 50 km south of Manali, or hit the road from Chandigarh (310 km) or Delhi (570 km) for a scenic drive. For a more relaxed journey, you can take regular buses on the Delhi-Manali route.
In and Around:
- Head to Solang valley, 14 km from Manali and choose from paragliding, parachuting, horse riding, skiing, driving open jeeps, making snowmen and zorbing.
- Drive up to Rohtang pass for a mind-blowing view of the serene, majestic mountain ranges.
- Visit the Naggar Palace overlooking the Kullu valley and step back in time with its magnificent wood and stone structure of bygone years.
- Eat at one of the many cafes dotting the streets and indulge in warm, local cuisine.
- Visit the Great Himalayan National Park at Kullu Valley and learn about the various flora and fauna of that region.
- Visit old Manali, across the Manalsu river to unwind and relax in the less crowded city, scented by swaying Eucalyptus trees.
5. Shimla, Himachal Pradesh
You can never go wrong with Shimla if you want to most assuredly witness snowfall! At 2,276 metres, Shimla is the most preferred hill station that numerous families swear by. The quaint city will bowl you over with its snowy cover, British architecture, rolling landscape and phenomenal views.
Shimla has its own airport at Jubbarhatti, 23 km from the city. It is also well connected by road to all the major cities in India. We recommend the scenic Kalka-Shimla Railway though, (listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the railway route offering the steepest rise in altitude in just 96 km) for a once-in-a-lifetime ride through tunnels and bridges, providing dramatic views of the towering mountains.
In and Around:
- Take a walk along the Ridge, soak in the white town and shop for artefacts or sip on tea from one of the local cafes.
- Shop your heart out at Mall Road for exquisite stoles, shawls, handicrafts and woollens.
- Visit Kufri, at a higher altitude and 10 km from Shimla to relax and just enjoy the view.
- Indulge in winter sports like skiing or go ice-skating at the Shimla Ice-Skating Rink.
- Head to Tattapani, a small village on the banks of the Sutlej river, and take a dip in its curative hot sulphur spring.
- Check out these cafes for a gourmet experience –Wake and Bake, Simla Times, Hide Out
- Visit Annadale, which has an Indian Army Museum, a Cactus Museum, a playground and a golf course.
6. Narkanda, Himachal Pradesh
A small town located very close to Shimla, Narkanda is known for its apple orchards. Trees like conifers, oak, maple, poplar, hazelnut and holly line the mountain slopes. Head here if you just need a peaceful, snowy vacation.
The nearest airport is Shimla, 60 km from Narkanda. Take a train from Shimla or Kalka (160 km) or drive from Shimla with a snowy backdrop of mountains and orchards.
In and Around:
- Visit the highest peak in Shimla district, the Hatu peak, rising to 3400 metres, for views of the majestic mountains and cedar forests.
- The Hatu Mata temple at the top of the Hatu peak also holds religious significance.
- Walk around the Tannu Jubbar lake or have a quiet picnic here, overlooked by the mountains
- Take the kids to Stokes Farm, named after Satyanand Stokes, who introduced apple cultivation to the locals.
- Shop for Himachali shawls, Patoo blankets, Pullans (woollen shoes) and more at the bustling local markets.
7. Dalhousie and Khajjiar, Himachal Pradesh:
Named after Lord Dalhousie, this charming town is thronged by tourists looking for a winter escape. Spread across five hills, Dalhousie has been a favourite retreat since the British era and is one of best places with snowfall in India during winter time.
Gaggal Airport at Kangra is the nearest airport, 13 km from the town. You can also take a train up to Pathankot and take a cab, or drive from nearby cities.
In and Around:
- Take a trip to Khajjiar, called the ‘Mini Switzerland of India’ to experience fabulous views of the countryside.
- Engage in zorbing, paragliding and other sports at Khajjiar.
- Walk by the Khajjiar lake or visit the Kalatop wildlife sanctuary.
- Watch the beautiful Satdhara Falls plunging amidst mountains draped in snow, bringing waters from seven springs.
- Take a 2km trek with your family to Panch Pulla (meaning Five Bridges) for a pleasant picnic.
- Visit the famous hot spring, Subash Baoli, which is believed to have cured Subash Chandra Bose when he was ill, thus named after him.
- Shop for souvenirs, everyday utilities or woollens at the local bazaars.
8. Patnitop, Jammu and Kashmir
Patnitop is a gorgeous winter destination, which receives a good amount of snowfall, particularly attracting tourists in winter for paragliding. Surrounded by pine and deodar forests, this snow-covered town looks like a dream. It’s time to show your kids a life size snow globe!
Jammu is the nearest airport, 110 km away. It is also connected by road to various cities like Jammu, Srinagar, Chandigarh and Shimla. You can also take a train up to Jammu or Udhampur and rent a cab from there.
In and Around:
- Paraglide from Billoo Di Powri Point, over the hills with a bewitching view of the snow-capped mountains, mesmerising valleys and meadows. You will need to climb quite a long flight of stairs to reach there.
- Trek to Nathatop, 8 km from the city and spend the day skiing down the icy slopes.
- Take skiing lessons and glide along the gentle slopes with your kids.
- Visit the 600-year old Naag Mandir, a popular temple, which devotees visit during the Nag Panchami festival.
- Drop by Kud Park and enjoy the sights and sounds, while the kids play.
- Don’t forget to feast on ‘Patisa’, a favourite sweet in Patnitop.
9. Pahalgam, Jammu and Kashmir:
Celebrate a white winter this year at Pahalgam, 2200 metres above sea-level, on the banks of the Lidder river. It is home to rich, coniferous forests and various wildlife like hangul, musk deer, brown bear and more. The town also plays host to the pilgrims on the Amarnath Yatra.
Srinagar is the nearest airport, 95 km from Pahalgam. You can also take a train up to Jammu and travel 88 km by car or take a bus from Jammu, Srinagar or Anantnag.
In and Around:
- Go to Aru valley or Beetab valley to enjoy in the lap of nature, surrounded by silver-tipped mountains and flowing rivers. Hike or trek around the place with family and snap Instagram-worthy pictures.
- Hire ponies or trek up to the Kolhoi Glacier or to the Lidder river which originates from the glacier
- Pay a visit to the Mamaleshwara temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, constructed only in stone.
- Shop till you drop for carpets, kaftans, Kashmiri handicrafts, Kashmiri embroidery, tea cosies and more.
- Camp by the Sheshnag lake where mountains envelop the blue, serene waters.
10. Lachung, Sikkim:
Lachung is a small town in North Sikkim, at the confluence of the Lachen and Lachung rivers. The name meaning ‘small pass’, Lachung was once a trading post between Sikkim and Tibet.
Bagdogra Airport at Siliguri is the nearest airport. Regular cab and bus services are operational from here. New Jalpaiguri station is the nearest railway station, 103 km from Lachung. You can also drive from Gangtok (103 km), Bagdodara (194 km), Mangan (51 km) or Darjeeling (169 km).
In and around:
- Yumthang valley or ‘Valley of Flowers’ is the best tourist attraction, with a wide variety of flowers adorning the slopes.
- Head to the Shingba Rhododendron Sanctuary, home to 24 species of native Rhododendron flowers.
- Visit the Seven Sisters Waterfalls and watch the waterfall thunder downwards from the footbridge above.
- Mangan offers a variety of shops, eateries where you can indulge, with a ravishing view of the Kanchenjunga range.
- Don’t miss the Gurudongmar lake at an altitude of 5430 metres, one of the sources of the religious river Teesta.
- While in North Sikkim, don’t miss Lachen, well known for the Lachung Monastery. Also the strikingly beautiful Thangu Valley, Crow’s Lake on the way to Gurudongmar Lake and Mt. Katao, a surreal mountain peak with captivating views.
Well, time to make up your mind (as hard as that is) and pick a place to 'dash through the snow' this winter! Don’t forget to pack your skis as you head to the snowy mountains! And remember to leave the place clean and plastic-free!
About the author:
Written by Kerina De Floras on 12 December 2019.
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