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.
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.
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.