The winters are fascinating for a number of reasons. The nip in the air and the chill are good enough. Add to that the wonder of snow carpets and icy fogs. Or the aroma of a hot chocolate and the deliciousness of a gajar ka halwa. The winters are that time of the year where almost everyone slips into a mode of comfort and holiday. Winter destinations especially in India are thronged with tourists. And with Christmas, New Year and a long vacation from office or school, the winters are a time for travel, relaxation and spending time with loved ones.
Though 2020 wasn’t an easy ride, the year-end does give glimmer and glances of hope. Traveling or vacationing to holiday destinations has started off with of course, crowd controlling and thorough sanitization and hygiene standards. But people are slowly and steadily traveling or vacationing after a long indoor stint. And hence we bring to you the top 10 winter destinations of India. These destinations will mesmerize you with their beauty and splendidness. But there is a little more to them too. There is their culture, their people and multitude of activities that you can avail of. So let’s jump in right away and find out the best places to go to during winter in India.
1. Jammu and Kashmir – Ladakh
It is hard to zero down on a single destination when it comes to the Paradise on Earth. Kashmir has been embroiled in a political turmoil through last year with the lifting of Article 370 and the pandemic has not made it any easier for its tourism industry. However, Kashmir is open to tourists, though one has to follow a few formalities before travel. There are many places in Kashmir that merit a visit, including Sonmarg and Gulmarg. In fact, both of these destinations are one of the most popular winter destinations of India. Sonmarg is mesmerizing with meadows, the Gadsar Lake or the Zojila Pass. Gulmarg on the other hand is well-known for its snow clad mountains. The Aparwath Peak is where all the skiing fun happens. One can ski, trek, snowboard along the white snowy slopes surrounded by the chilled breezy air. Pahalgam, Srinagar, Katra, as well as, the stunning beautiful landscapes of Ladakh are other destinations to visit or plan a trip to.
2. Auli, Uttarakhand
There are many hill stations and winter destinations in Uttarakhand that merit a place on this list. Auli however, gets its very own listing because it is one of the best skiing and trekking sites in India. In fact, a national championship of skiing is conducted here each year in January. The absolute beauty of Auli will quite literally take your breath away, yet there is so much more to do here. Trekking in the snowy meadows of Kwani Bugyal or Gurson Bugyal or riding the cable car which also happens to be the longest in Asia are the other attractions of Auli. Couple that with splendid views of the breathtaking peaks of the Himalayan range, including Nanda Devi, Kamet, Hathi Parvat and more.
3. More Cold Destinations in Uttarakhand
Besides, Auli Uttarakhand has many gems to explore. Nainital with its many lakes and opulent beauty is both inviting and mesmerizing during the winters. You can watch the snow covered mountain from the Snow Point or have fun shopping around. Quite opposite to the buzz at Nainital a quiet holiday awaits at Binsar. This quaint town is surrounded by the mighty Trishul, Nanda Devi and Pachachuli and the Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary is a great way to learn about the wildlife of the area. Enjoy the snow treks at Roopkund or get awed by the beauty of Almora, Uttarakhand is a must visit destination during the winters.
4. Himachal Pradesh
Himachal Pradesh is a picturesque state tucked in the lap of the Himalayas. It is home to the best winter, as well as summer destinations of India. Be it Manali or Shimla, these evergreen tourists places have been attracting a whole range of travelers for long. Honeymooners, families, friends or solo travelers have always found solace in the destinations of Shimla and Manali. There are a number of adventure activities including zorbing, horse riding, paragliding, trekking etc. Enjoy ice skating in Shimla or visit the tiny villages of Kasol, Rohtang and Kullu. Soak in the culture of these hamlets or explore the Great Himalayan National Park. There is definitely a lot to do.
From the chillness of the Himalayas, let us divert our attention to the beaches and parties of Goa. The most happening place to be in if you enjoy socializing and partying, Goa lights up especially during the Christmas and New Year. The Goan churches, cuisine and festivals are a wonderful way to explore the culture of the state. The beaches are fraught with water adventures and sporting activities for those who like the adrenaline rush. But there is also quietude and solitude in the secluded beaches. Some of the famous beaches and tourist sites to visit in Goa during the winters and festive season include Old Goa, Anjuna Beach, Chorao Island (Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary), Dona Paula Bay etc.
The desert and royalty of Rajasthan come alive during the winters. The best part of visiting Rajasthan during the winters is its numerous festivals and its glorious weather. Though the scorching heat can be difficult to traverse during the summers, Rajasthan can be best explored during its winters instead. Visit the cities of the Maharajas, Jodhpur, Jaipur and Udaipur. Traverse through the golden city of Jaisalmer or visit the hilly Mount Abu. And don’t forget to check out the Ranthambore National Park.
7. Rann of Kutch
The Great Rann of Kutch looks ethereal in the winters covered by the white salt carpet. But the importance of the Rann is as much about its beauty, as it is about the Rann Utsav. The cultural bonanza that the Utsav offers during the winter months from November to February sparkles the land with vivid colors, traditional crafts and arts and colorful performances. One can stay in tents to enjoy the exciting culture and beauty of the area.
God’s own country cannot be too far when it comes to vacationing in the winters. The lush green destinations of Munnar or Thekkady are as wonderful as the backwater destinations of Alleppey or Kozhikode. You can enjoy the hills and surrounding splendor of Munnar or wonder at its excellent biodiversity at the Silent Valley National Park and Periyar National Park. The beaches at Kovalam and Vagamon are wonderful for various water sporting and of course, a ride on a houseboat just seals the deal.
The Seven Sister States of India are one of the most glorious and breathtaking destinations of the country. The list is too long as each state has an array of places that can wow you for sure. However, Meghalaya’s capital, Shillong is sublime. Fraught with amazing natural beauty, forests and lakes the city is also rich in its culture and heritage. The Laitlum Canyons, Umaim Lake or Elephant Falls will definitely leave you wanting for more. Visit the cleanest village of Asia Maylnnong or enjoying trekking or even angling, Shillong is packed with adventure, action and wonderful weather.
10. The others in North East
North East India is fraught with magnificent destinations. Whether it is Kohima with its Hornbill Festival in December or Tawang in Arunachal with its adorable monasteries. Be it the mesmerizing towns such as Nagaon, Satras, Cherrapunji, Champai, Aizwal or Roing and many more or the majestic natural highlights of the region, the north east is undoubtedly one of the most splendid destinations. However, its main attraction lies in its deep culture and traditions. The tribal cultures, traditions, unique cuisines and languages make the north east one of the best winter destinations of India.
The winters in India are varied across regions. The northern areas along the Himalayas witness low temperatures and also snow covers, the southern areas, such as many parts of Tamil Nadu have very mild winters along with rainfall. Thus, you can choose your winter destination depending on the severity of weather that comforts your taste and style of holidaying. Some enjoy the chillness and snow, whereas, others prefer a pleasant winter. However, in any case, no matter where you go, every winter destination has its own charm. Intermingled with the culture of the region and its people, the winter destinations of India are a delight to the eyes, mind and soul.