11 Popular Winter Sports Hotspots in India

Travellers on winter tours in India can make the most of them by enjoying snow-related sports. A major part of North and Northeast India is covered by the majestic Himalayan Mountains, which provide endless opportunities for exciting winter activities. The higher reaches of the states of Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Sikkim, Uttarakhand and Arunachal Pradesh receive a good amount of snow during the winter season. As a result, the mountain slopes and inner valleys of these states are acclaimed for providing excellent opportunities for various winter activities. Most of these popular spots are connected by quality roads and those higher up in the mountains have ropeway connections.

Jammu and Kashmir

This beautiful state has some of the most famous hill stations to visit in the country during holidays. Gulmarg, a popular ski resort in the state, has one of the longest skiing seasons that draw hordes of tourists. The Gulmarg Gondola is the highest in the world, and it transports people to Kongdoori Mountain, a part of the Apharwat Peak, which is located at an altitude of 13780 feet. From this peak, skiers make a hair-raising descent of over 800 metres. Other things that visitors can engage in here are sleighing, in which they sit on wooden boards and come down gentle slopes.

Another famous destination in the state to visit during Indian trips is Pahalgam, which lies at a rough altitude of 7200 feet. The state government is making continuous efforts to develop winter-tourism in this area and sports festivals are regularly held here in December-January. Jawahar Institute of Mountaineering and Winter Sports conducts courses in trekking, skiing, adventure sports, white water rafting and paragliding. There are some small lakes in the area that freeze due to extreme cold, giving tourists the chance to enjoy ice skating on them.

Himachal Pradesh

An enchanting place in Himachal Pradesh that can be visited during winter tours in the country is Solang Valley. The cable car here has been built by a French company, and it transports tourists 500 metres above its base station. Its 19 cabins are designed to carry eight people each along with their trekking, skiing or mountaineering gear. The vertical drop of about half-a-kilometre from the summit accounts for a really thrilling time. To encourage tourism, the chief minister of the state inaugurated the 1st edition of Alpine Premier League, organised with the support of Atal Bihari Vajpayee Institute of Mountaineering and Allied Sports. Apart from skiing, snowboarding and snowmobile rides on the snow-covered slopes are popular here.

Kufri, at over 9000 feet above sea level, is among the oldest winter destinations in Himachal Pradesh, and it only continues to grow in significance. The Himachal Pradesh Government organises the Annual Winter Sports Festival here, which sees heavy participation from Indians as well as from international travellers. People will find a great ski spot at Mahasu ridge in the area that is suitable for experienced skiers as well as for beginners.

Another snow-covered place to visit in the state to engage in thrilling activities is Narkanda. Located at a rough altitude of 8884 feet, it has slopes with different gradients for skiers with varying expertise. Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation conducts courses for novice skiers here, on a regular basis.

Uttarakhand

Auli is the preferred destination in Uttarakhand to enjoy winter activities. At more than 10500 feet above sea level, Auli has both conifer-covered as well as treeless slopes. With more than 10 km of slopes, covered with as much as 3 feet of snow during the peak season, Auli continues to be a highly admired ski resort around the world. Here travellers will find slopes, ranging from 400 metres to over 3 km in length, and with different gradients of drops. A cable-car connects this resort from the town of Joshimath making it easily accessible. Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam Limited runs training courses for adventure activities, in which people can enrol during their vacations at this resort.

Situated about 10000 feet above sea level, Dayara Bugyal is another great spot to visit during holidays in Uttarakhand. Bugyal means a meadow and the place has gentle as well as steep slopes covered with spruces and firs. A thick blanket of snow transfers this green meadow into a bustling sporting arena.

Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh

Tourism in Sikkim has been given encouragement only recently by the government, and there are some places here that offer exciting sporting opportunities during the cold season. During vacations in the state, coming to Lachung, Lachen and Yumthang Valley will elevate the joy of revellers, manifold. All these places receive hordes of adventure-loving people from around the world between December and February.

Arunachal Pradesh and especially its hugely-admired hill station of Tawang is known across the globe for its adventure aspect. Skiers with all levels of expertise can hone their skills, while on trips here and have a great time.

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The 15 Most Popular Yoga Destinations in India

Through meditation and various body poses, the ancient Indian science of Yoga seeks to make practitioners disciplined and ultimately lead them to moksha or eternal salvation. In recent times, it has become so popular that its practice is bringing lots of tourists to India. There are hordes of places in the country where vacations can be planned to practice and learn about this science. The following is a list of the top 15 Yoga destinations in the country:

Rishikesh, Uttarakhand

Without a doubt, Rishikesh in the Indian state of Uttarakhand is the biggest Yogic centre in the entire world. It is the foremost destination that travellers come to during their vacation trips in India for a wholesome relaxing and divine experience. Visitors can come here directly by train from New Delhi or take trains first to Haridwar, followed by a short bus journey.

Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala

Many Yoga sites here are located by the Arabian Sea, while some are nestled deep in pristine palm forests, providing a perfect setting to indulge in meditative activities. So while visitors are enjoying their beach holidays, they can also consider taking classes in these places for a really good time.

Mysore, Karnataka

Mysore is known for a distinct type of this discipline that developed here. In this form, the duration of the sessions and the difficulty level of the asanas depend on the expertise of students. People can plan their tours to the city easily as it has good transport connectivity with other places in India.

Pune, Maharashtra

Many notable practitioners have their teaching centres here and hence, Pune too is known for its Yogic culture. The best thing about the city is that besides yogic ashrams, there are many other attractions to visit for tourists. Its places of interest include medieval forts, museums, hills, temples and public parks.

Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh

Those who want to learn about the Buddhist influence on Yoga and its influence on the religion can plan their vacations in Dharamshala. Peace is the dominating philosophy associated with the science here and the backdrop of high mountains makes it even better.

Goa

Goa is famous worldwide for its beaches, which make romantic and family trips here highly sought-after. While travellers are enjoying their time together in the state, they may turn to any of the resorts that provide lessons in Yogic practices. Dabolim Goa International Airport has seasonal flights from and to many international cities apart from the regular services to Indian cities.

Coonoor, Tamil Nadu

A popular Yoga destination in Tamil Nadu is Coonoor, which is located in the Western Ghats, thus providing sheer tranquillity for its practise. Holidays in Coonoor may also be utilised to see its natural beauty, trekking through the hills or visiting the nearby hill station of Ooty.

Narendranagar, Uttarakhand

Another such famous destination in Uttarakhand is Narendranagar. It is located in the foothills of the Himalayas and so the climate here is cool, but not extremely cold and perfect for indulging in this activity. As it is near to the holy twin-towns of Haridwar and Rishikesh, pilgrimage tours to these places may be modified to include Narendranagar, as well.

Chennai, Tamil Nadu

A great destination to visit during vacations in South India to purify the body, mind and soul, is Chennai. Post touring the capital city of Tamil Nadu or after playing some beach volleyball, a relaxing meditative session at the Yoga ashrams or resorts here sounds like a remarkable plan.

Bengaluru, Karnataka

Bengaluru, the IT hub of India, is a raging urban centre with loads of attractions to visit. The presence of institutes of famous Yoga preachers and spiritual leaders makes it a good place to learn about and practise it.

Munger, Bihar

Trips can be taken to Munger to learn in detail about the Bihar style of the Yogic science, along with practising it with experienced gurus. Various institutes here educate visitors about monastic life and advanced stages of the practice.

Mumbai, Maharashtra 

Mumbai, the financial capital of India, is also the place where the first organised Yoga centre in the world was set up. Loads of international tourists come here during holidays and head to any of such centres and practise it.

Haridwar, Uttarakhand

Haridwar holds roughly the same importance as Rishikesh when it comes to this culture. The Ganga River flows through here and its banks become the perfect spots to indulge in this meditative and spiritually cleansing activity.

Kashmir

The Kashmir region is surely famous for its natural beauty and ski resorts, but another thing that it is known for is a type of Yoga with its roots in Shaivism. There are numerous institutes in the region, where travellers may enrol during their tours in the state to learn in detail about it.

New Delhi

Being the capital of India, New Delhi has also become an important destination from the perspective of this science. There are numerous institutes here that provide lessons and practise in this discipline. The Indian Government too has established various centres for the practise, research and promotion of this art.

Story of the 45 Million Year Old Ladakh Plateau

Ladakh is the northernmost region of India and over the years, has become a favorite among travelers who visited this place or wish to come for adventure holidays. It lies within the state of Jammu and Kashmir and is an expansive cold desert-cum-plateau; most of it lies over 10000 feet above sea level. The plateau is bordered by the Himalayas in the south and Karakoram Mountains in the north; the Ladakh and Zanskar ranges are also part of the region. To its south, Ladakh has a heavily glaciated landform, from where most of the rivers of Jammu and Kashmir originate. The Ladakh mountain range is of moderate elevation and does not contain any significant peaks. It is only beyond Zoji pass that the altitude increases and crosses the 23000-feet mark. The Indus, Shyok, Zanskar, Suru and Nubra Rivers drain the plateau and form their separate valleys here.

Mostly below 10000 feet altitude, Suru Valley is among the most fertile areas here. The majority of the valley of the Zanskar River lies above 11000-feet and is connected to the rest of the Himalayan area by mountain passes. Most of the peaks in the Karakoram Range, which borders Ladakh in the northwest, are 24000 feet in height.

General Geomorphology of the Region

The mountains in the north-eastern part of the desert expose an underdeveloped formation called Ladakh batholith, which belongs to the Miocene age. A batholith is formed inside the crust of the Earth due to the cooling of magma, and it is exposed because of erosion. On the other hand, the Zanskar range presents meta-sedimentary origin, dating to the late Miocene or Palaeocene age. They were formed when the already-existing sedimentary rocks underwent a change in their geology due to metamorphism. When a part of Gondwanaland collided with Laurasia, it gave rise to what is now called Choksti Thrust. The phenomenon played an important role in the formation of gorges in the north-western and south-western parts of the desert.

Leh Valley: Geomorphology

A major part of the plateau comprises of the valley where Leh, the administrative centre of the region and a popular vacations spot is located. It contains many structures that were formed after the glaciers started melting like moraines, sand-sheets, duns, palaeolakes and alluvial fans. The valley is sandwiched between the Ladakh Mountains to the north and Zanskar range to the south. While studying its geomorphology, the formations of the valley are grouped into three sub-types. They have varied origins and exhibit glacial, fluvio-glacial, aeolian, mass-wasting and lacustrine formations. The first subtype is a high ground to the northwest of the valley, and it slopes towards the south-eastern direction. Subtype two comprises triangle-shaped formations with gentle slopes, and they are bordered by hills on three sides. The last type makes up a large chunk of the Leh valley, and it lies in a naturally-formed depression. Mass-movement, a process in which sand, rocks and soil slide down slopes, led to the formation of cone-shaped deposits called alluvial fans, along the foothills of the Zanskar Mountains. Aeolian deposits, formed due to erosion of the surface by wind; and Lacustrine surfaces, formed by sediment brought by rivers, are also well-preserved along the slopes and in the valley.

Glacial Formations

  • Transverse Mountain Valleys

Transverse mountain valleys in the Ladakh range and those along the Zanskar Mountains show different effects of the same natural processes. The former are a result of glacial processes, while the latter owe their existence to mass-wasting. These ranges have steep slopes, rocky peaks and small valleys at 18400-feet altitude and above. Less snow accumulates in the vertically aligned and elongated Leh and Phyang valleys and hence, no glaciers are formed here. Contrary to this, the northern slopes of the Ladakh range have zones that allow snow to accumulate and glaciers to flow. Alluvial fans in the valleys of the Zanskar region are formed due to the glaciers that arise in the mountains and flow southwards.

  • Amphitheatre Valleys

These formations are triangular and funnel-shaped, and steep rocky slopes border them on three sides. Their formation was a result of the deposition of sediments by melted glaciers. They have narrow tops, which join with those of mountainous valleys further upstream along rivers. Likewise, their wide edges slope down and join the surface of the Leh valley. As their area increases along with the rise in the area of the drainage basin, it has been concluded by researchers that their origins lie in glacial after-effects.

  • Moraines

Moraines are parallel ridges, formed along the lengths of glaciers due to the deposition of debris. In the region, they are found at four altitude ranges: 11100-12430 feet, 12800-14300 feet, 15390-15700 feet and 16900 feet. The majority of the 13 identified moraines are found between elevations of 11100 feet and 12430 feet above sea level. Their width varies from 300 feet to 450 feet, and they occur as discontinuous ridges, stretching for a few kilometres in length. These sediments are composed of cobblestones, gravel, boulders and pebbles embedded within each other.

Mass-Wasting Formations

This vast cold desert experiences great variations in temperature that results in the breaking of rocks. Along the mountain slopes, pebbles and gravel are brought down by rivers, and both these factors lead to occurrence of scree slopes.

  • Bajada

These alluvial deposits are quite small and studies say that the formation of the valley restricts their expansion. They are large in the centre of the region, and they decrease in size towards the gorges. Those, along the foothills of the Zanskar Mountains, are a result of persistent mass-wasting. Along the southern banks of river Indus, exposed sedimentary and alluvial deposits are seen. Their size varies from those of boulders, cobblestones, pebbles and clay to that of sand particles.

  • Aeolian and Lacustrine Structures

If travellers are taking tours through Ladakh, they are bound to see dunes and sand-sheets that are well preserved. In Spituk, Shey and Gumpuk, visitors will find numerous lakes of glacial origins, formed in the depressions between the dunes and hill-slopes. The gravelly formations in Spituk correspond to the meta-sedimentary formation of the Zanskar range, while their sands shows effects of wind erosion, and the silt shows glacial sedimentation. This silty nature also means that they were derived from mountain slopes, and they were exposed there due to the seasonal drying of glacial lak

Traditional Sports of Northeast India

The north-eastern part of India is largely unexplored and for ages has held a mystique charm of its own. Tourists who plan to venture out to this part of India not only get a chance to explore this region and its natural beauty, but also to learn and understand the culture of its people. Alike other parts of the country, religious festivities are an integral element of the lives of the locals. Another facet of the people living in the northeast states is their love for traditional sports. On vacations to any of these states, travelers can watch people playing these traditional sports while the enthusiastic ones can also partake.

Assam

Dhopkhel

Dhopkhel is the most popular game in Assam, and it is played by two teams of 11 players each, inside a 125-metre long and 80-metre wide field. A rubber ball is thrown to the playing court of the opposing group to hit one of their members. If this attempt is a success, then the member who was hit with ball has to leave the game. This way, the team that is able to oust their opponents, wins the battle.

Arunachal Pradesh

One of the games that tourists can play while on a visit to Arunachal Pradesh during their holidays is Porok-Pamin Sinam. The competition tests the flexibility and balance of the participants. Competitors hold one of their legs in their hand and keep the other hand on their shoulder. They hop on only one leg and attempt to hit their rival and push him out of the marked circle. Whoever is able to achieve the feat, wins the competition.

Sikkim

archery

By far, the most sought-after traditional sport in Sikkim is archery, which has roots in the warring culture of the inhabitants. Men aim at a 3-feet long and 1-feet wide target from a distance of 130 metres. Women give these matches a rather colourful tone by hurling abuses at opponents of the men they are supporting. Some even come between the archers and their targets to distract them and make them miss their mark.

Manipur

Kang Shanaba

Kang Shanaba

During tours to Manipur, the famed sport known as Kang Shanaba can be played with the locals. It is played by two teams with both of them having seven members. In olden days, the kang used to be the seed of a fruit, but later it started to be made of lac. The game is played by throwing the kang at targets, kept on the playing courts or by sliding them past lines, drawn across it. It is somewhat similar to the game of marbles.

Mizoram

Insuknawr

Insuknawr

An exciting way to enjoy Mizoram trips is by taking part in an Insuknawr competition. This indigenous game is played by two people, who stand in a circle. A single rod, about 8-feet long and roughly 3-4 inches in diameter, is held by both opponents under their armpits. As per the rules, at least 4 inches of the rod-length should be under the armpits and the rod should stay symmetrical to the center of the circle. The participants attempt to throw each other out of the circle by pushing the rod and the opponent.

Nagaland

A game known as cock-fighting originated in Nagaland, and it is played by two men, who try to win the surrender of their rival by continuously kicking him.

Tripura

A sport, called Gella Chutt, is played by two teams of 7-10 players each with great zeal in Meghalaya. One group is called the in group, while the other is out group. The in group appoints a leader and out group invades its court. The former attempts to stop the invasion of the latter, by touching the opposing members, in an attempt to keep their leader safe. If the leader is touched, he is declared dead, following which the teams interchange their roles

Meghalaya

A game called Wa Pong Sala can be enjoyed in during tours to Meghalaya. In this sport, two rivals sit in front of each other with stretched legs and a bamboo stick is kept between them. They attempt to pull each other by hand and the one who pulls his opponent from the ground, wins.