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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Paying Reverence at Konark Sun Temple

The sun is among the foremost natural sources of importance to humankind. It is a gigantic ball of gases that burns perpetually. The activities of humans are governed by the continuous waxing and waning of it. Since humans appeared on Earth, they have revered the sun extensively. Over the time, this natural phenomenon was elevated to the status of a god. Almost all the ancient and modern civilisations have their own way to perceive its greatness. The ancient Romans and Greeks worshipped it as Apollo the son of Zeus. In the Pharaoh-ruled Egypt, it assumed the form of Ra – one of their main deities. Similarly, in India and Hinduism, it is revered as Surya Dev, who has been explicitly mentioned and described in the epics, Vedas, Puranas and Upanishads. Numerous temples and shrines dedicated to the above-mentioned god were constructed all over the world; the most famous of which is in Konark. India holidays can be made better by visiting this antique marvel of architecture.

Konark Sun Temple

Konark Sun Temple

Konark Sun Temple

The Sun Temple in Konark, in the Indian state of Odisha, is one of the most majestic shrines ever built. According to the Bhavishya and Samba Puranas, the earliest temple at the site was constructed somewhere in the 9th century or earlier. The Madala Panji mentions another temple at this place, dating to the 7th century. Narsimhadeva I, who was a ruler of the Eastern Ganga Dynasty from 1238 to 1264, constructed the present structure. It is built in the shape of a huge chariot, like the one that Surya has, according to texts. A total of 12 stone wheels are carved on the platform, on which the shrine stands. Built, utilising the Kalinga style of architecture, it faces the east, so that it is illuminated as soon as the sun rises in the morning. Khodalite rocks, found in the Eastern Ghats of the country, were used in its construction.

There was a tower, 229 feet tall, just behind the present building. It, along with the sanctum, collapsed for reasons and date unknown. Kalapahad, a Bengali sultan, who invaded Odisha in 1568, is generally blamed for the mishap, along with loose soil, earthquakes and lightning strikes. Among the buildings that survive are the 128 feet high audience hall, dance hall and dining hall. The staircase, which leads to the shrine, is flanked by stone sculptures of lions. On the walls are carvings depicting horses and couples in erotic poses. The ruins of two more temples have been discovered close to the main structure. One of them is dedicated to Mayadevi – a wife of Surya, and was built in the 11th century. Idols of Balarama, Varaha and Trivikarma are housed in the second of the two, which suggests that it was built by people from the Vaishnava sect. The idols of the chief presiding deity are missing in both the places of worship.

Other Information

 

It is on the coast, about 2 km east of the Bay of Bengal. Konark is about 60 km from the state capital of Bhubaneshwar. Cabs and buses, taken from the railway station, get people to this famous tourist destination in about an hour, depending upon traffic conditions. Visitors cannot enter inside the building as it was closed, sealed and filled with sand in 1903.

India: A Perfect Getaway for Newly-weds

India – the land of beautiful beaches, ancient monuments, sacred sites, mighty Himalayas and the magnificent Taj Mahal – is among the most visited tourist destinations in the world. It is a place that completely captivates visitors with its richness and diversity. The tourism potential of this nation is far reaching and attracts a large number of tourists from across the globe. It is thronged by holidaymakers of all kinds, be it honeymooners, adventure seekers or family vacationers. To facilitate a hassle-free travel experience and make the entire sojourn of the people more convenient, various tour packages India are offered by travel agencies. Most of these deals include accommodation, transport and meal facilities, along with the provision of an itinerary.

 

What makes this country an ideal pick for honeymooners?

 

Newly-wed couples have a number of beautiful places to choose from around the world for planning their honeymoon. Out of the several options, India is notably one of the most-visited destinations by honeymooners. The reason being – it is a one-stop spot that caters to different travel requirements of  visitors. Whether planning for a relaxing beach vacation, a romantic ski trip, exotic cruise expedition or an adventurous getaway, this nation is a suitable honeymoon hot spot. Quoted as the Very Paradise on Earth by the renowned German scholar, Max Muller, this region is richly endowed with amazing natural beauty and rich cultural heritage. The top crowd-pullers of this destination, which are frequented by newly-weds can be listed as Goa, Ooty, Shimla, Kullu, Manali, Srinagar, Coorg, Darjeeling, Kerala, Lakshadweep, and Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

 

Tour to Andaman and Nicobar Islands

 

The clear blue aqua along with the velvety sand always tempts the honeymooners to explore their new phase of life in its midst. The Andaman and Nicobar Islands is among the best-kept secrets of the country that draws couples from the world over. It is an enchanting destination, where newly-weds can kick back, relax, enjoy and create wonderful memories. Be it the white sandy beaches fringed with palm trees or lush green forests, there is plenty to delve into here. This region stretches over a length of more than 700 km from north to south, floating in the Bay of Bengal and east of the Indian mainland. It comprises 572 emerald Islands (out of which 36 are inhabited), islets and rocks. Port Blair the capital city of this place and is dotted with numerous attractions to explore. Water Sports Complex, Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park, Forest Museum, Samudrika Museum, Corbyns Cove and Havelock Island are few of the top-rated attractions on this mesmerising location.

 

Honeymooners can spend hours on-board in a glass-bottomed boat while they enjoy viewing the rich marine life right beneath their feet. They can further opt for adventurous water activities like snorkelling, canoeing, scuba diving and kayaking. The best way to explore the islands is to pick any one of the honeymoon India packages, which are thoughtfully and strategically planned according to the preferences of these couples. Each of these deals ensures to deliver the maximum privileges to the newly-weds at minimum cost.

India Holidays in the North-Eastern Region

North-eastern part of India

North-eastern part of India

The north-eastern part of India, also called the Land of the Seven Sister States, comprises the states of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Tripura, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Nagaland. Always slated to be the laggards among all the states and considered somewhat alienated from the mainstream India in the past, the process of development and integration of these with the mainstream India was consciously undertaken by the government. Key elements of this integration and involvement process was the all round development of the whole region and facilitating increased cooperation and interaction among the people from these states with those of the other states. Emphasis was laid on development of transportation, industry, educational and medical facilities in this region, on par with the best of India. The residents of these states were encouraged to study in schools and colleges of other states, market their products and produce and showcase their cultural elements with government and private support. Travel and tourism is one of the sectors which are expected to play a major role in the development and integration process of these states.

The whole of the north-eastern remains largely a virgin and unexplored region of the country. Though it is blessed with varied geographical features including the rives, mountains, plains and lots of natural flora and fauna along with a number of historical and religious places of interest, the full tourism potential is yet to be exploited. The region has many exotic species of plants, trees and animals which are peculiar to this part of the world only and are not found anywhere else on this planet. Many wonderful landscapes also hold immense potential for being developed as tourist attractions for secluded honeymoon holidays as well as for group and family vacations.

Wild Life

Due to its rather unexplored state and natural habitations, the government has established quite a few national parks and wild life sanctuaries for the conservation, preservation and protection of the species and natural habitats of the region. These are one of the must see attractions of the region and the wild life adventure enthusiasts find these extremely absorbing. India holidays to this part of the country are incomplete without a wildlife sojourn.

  1. Namdapha National Park: This is one of the largest protected wildlife areas in India and the largest of the north-east India, spread out to about 1985 square kilometers.
    Namdapha National Park

    Namdapha National Park

    The Namadhapa Tiger Reserve is spread out in about 1900 square kilometers of the area. Together, in these two regions, one can find more than 150 species of trees and species of felines, primates, birds and reptiles.

    Manas National Park

    Manas National Park

  2. Manas National Park: This national park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in Barapeta district of Assam. Tens of species of mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians are some of the common species found here. This place is also a sanctuary for the Elephant and a Biosphere Reserve.
  3. Kaziranga National Park: Famous for holding the largest population of the one-horned Rhino, this National Park is along the banks of River Brahmaputra in Assam also has a number of animal and bird species.

    Kaziranga National Park

    Kaziranga National Park

  4. Orang National Park: Orang is also in the state of Assam and situated along the northern banks of River Brahamputra. It is often called as Mini Kaziranga and is home to Bengal Florican.

    Orang National Park

    Orang National Park

  5. Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary: This wildlife sanctuary also a sizeable population of one-horned Rhinoceros, Asian buffalo, leopard and migratory bird. This place is a heaven for bird lovers.

    Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary

    Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary

  6. Sipahijola Wildlife Sanctuary: This woodland area is in Tripura and it also has artificial lakes and botanical and zoological gardens. Bespectacled money can be seen here along with a number of other species of birds and animals.
  7. Keibul Lamjoa National Park: This is located in the Manipur state of India, with Loktak Lake also coming within its periphery.

 

Culture and Heritage

Some of the main heritage attractions of the states include the Malinithan temple ruins, Parsuram Kund and World War II Cemetery of Arunachal Pradesh.

Touphema Tourist Village

Touphema Tourist Village

In Nagaland, there is Touphema Tourist Village where tourists can see the Naga way of life. The Hornbill Festival of this state is also famous. In Tripura, there are quite a few temples and palaces to be seen. These include Ujjanta Palace, Neermahal Palace, Maata Bari Temple and others. The monasteries of Sikkim are quite popular as well since these are one of the oldest religious places of this region.

Adventure and Leisure

While in Arunanchal Pradesh, you can undertake rafting in Brahmaputra, Kameng and Subansari rivers. Loktak is the most famous water body and a tourist spot in Manipur where people come to spend time in leisure and complete serenity of nature. In Manipur, the Dzukou Valley is a famous trekking spot. In Mizoram, the Tamdil Lake is famed as a top fishing spot and the Vantawng Fall is the highest waterfall in the State. Phawngpui is the highest peak and trekking is the most loved sport here.

Pilgrimage India Holidays- A Sojourn To Explore Roots of Buddhism

India is the land of origin of Buddhism. Though Lord Buddha was born in Lumbini in Nepal, almost all of his life was spent in different parts of northern India. He renounced royal living after being disturbed by seeing the pains of life. The Lord took to wandering in quest for finding answers to his questions till the time he decided to meditate in Bodhgaya and attained enlightenment, the ultimate knowledge. Thereafter, his was the life of a preacher who gave sermons at different places, beginning with Sarnath as its first destination. Great impetus was given to the spreading of Buddhism by King Ashoka who produced some of the most astonishing pieces of architecture.

Tracing the footprints of the life and the times of Lord Buddha and in exploration of roots of this faith of Buddhism, pilgrimage tours are organized covering these destinations. For the followers of Buddhism across the world, these India holidays themed on Buddhism provide a way to acquaint themselves with the lands where he visited and to see the various places associated with this religion. This article takes you to four of these important destinations. These are ideal for family holidays as well.

Lumbini Location Map

Lumbini Location Map

Lumbini: This place is the birth place of Lord Buddha and is currently in southern Nepal. Lord Buddha was born as Prince Sidhartha to queen Mayadevi in 563 BC on the occasion of Baisakhi Purnima. The pilgrimage tours to this place are centered on the sacred garden where he was born, the Mayadevi temple, the pillar of King Ashoka and the Pashkani pond.

How to reach Lumbini?

By Air:

Kathmandu to Siddhartnagar ( Bhairahawa): 14 flights in a week (2 flights per day by Yeti Airlines, all days in a week)

By Rail:

Mahaparinirvan Express takes tourists till Gorakhpur from where they can take the road travel, either by car or by bus, to reach Lumbini.

By Bus: Buses ply from Kathmandu, Pokhara, Gorakhpur and Varanasi to Sunauli from where Siddharthanagar is only 3.5 kilometers.

Mayadevi temple

Mayadevi temple

Bodhgaya: One of the most visited places in India, this is the place where Lord Buddha attained Nirvana or enlightenment under the famed Bodhi tree under which he meditated for 49 days.

Bodhi tree

Bodhi tree

This is one of the most revered places in India and people from all over the world come here to see the place of his meditation. Now this place comes under the Maha Bodhi temple complex. The temple itself is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Maha Bodhi temple

Maha Bodhi temple

The temple was built by King Ashoka 250 years after the death of Lord Buddha and was restored to its current position during the colonial period of the British by Sir Alexander Cunningham.

How to Reach Bodhgaya? 

By Air: Nearest airport is of Gaya and direct flights are operated from five cities to Gaya.

a. Bangkok to Gaya: 2 flights in a week (Druk Air on Saturday and Thai Airways on all days except Wednesday and Friday).

b. Kolkatta To Gaya: 1 flight in a week (Air India on Friday)

c. Delhi to Gaya: 7 flights in a week (1 flight, all days in a week)

d. Paro to Gaya: 1 flight in a week (Druk Air, only on Friday)

e. Yangon to Gaya: 4 flights per week (MAI on Wednesday and Saturday and Air India on Monday and Friday)

By Rail: Nearest railway station is of Gaya and it can be reached from Delhi, Patna and Kolkatta among other cities. From Gaya one can take the bus or cab for reaching Bodh Gaya.

Sarnath: Sarnath is close to modern Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh. It was also called by the name of Isipatana. This is the place where the Lord gave the first sermon after attaining nirvana in Bodhgaya.

Dhamek Stupa

Dhamek Stupa

This is also the place where he first taught Dharma and the mentioned the four noble truths. The main tourist attractions of Sarnath are the Dhamek Stupa, the pre-Ashokan Dharamarajika Stupa, the Chaukhandi Stupa and the Sarnath Archaeological Museum where the Ashoka Pillar with Lion Capital is kept.

How to reach Sarnath?

By Air: Varanasi is the nearest airport. 7 cities have nonstop flights to Varanasi. These are from:

a. Gaya: Air India operates 1 flight daily, all days a week.

b. Kathmandu:  Air India operates 1 flight on Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.

c. Khajuraho: Jet Airways and Spicejet operate 1 flight daily, all days a week. Air India operates 1 flight on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday. so, in total more than 2 flights in a day are operated.

d. Kolkatta: Jet Airways operates 1 flight per day, all days a week.

e. Mumbai: Air India operates 1 flight per day, all days a week.

f. Delhi: Spicejet operates 3 flight per day, all days a week. Air India and Jet Airways operate 1 flight per day, all days a week. Additionally, Spicejet operates 1 flight on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.

g. Sharjah: Spicejet flies 1 flight on Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday.

Rail and bus connectivity is also present from all the major cities of India to Varanasi.

 

Chaukhandi Stupa

Chaukhandi Stupa

Kushinagar: Located close to the Gorakhpur city in the state of Uttar Pradesh in India, Kushinagar is the place where the Lord attained the Maha Parinirvana after his death.

Sarnath Archaeological Museum

Sarnath Archaeological Museum

The place was chosen by him since it has been the ancient city of Kusavati which was the royal city of Maha-Sudassana. Another reason for the choice was that Subhadda could learn the meditation from him while he was still alive. During the time of his death, the place was ruled by Mallas.

Travel atop Nilgiri Mountain Railway of Chaiyya Chaiyya Fame while on Holidays in India

Nilgiri Mountain Railway

Nilgiri Mountain Railway

The mesmerizing natural beauty of Ooty, which was popularly known as Ootacamund, has attracted tourists from world over since decades. Dense forests, majestic mountains, miles of eucalyptus plants and tea plantations greet holidaymakers. Ooty packages are included in the itineraries of most travel planners in this area. Due to the immense beauty of this region, it has been a site for several regional as well as Bollywood movies. The spectacular charm of this landscape has allured many directors to situate their plots of drama and romance in and around this location.

Several song sequences have been shot with expertise amidst the picture-perfect locations of this place. Among these, there is hardly any one as popular as the A R Rahman composed song Chaiyya Chaiyya for the Mani Ratnam film Dil Se. The train ride from Mettupalayam to this hill station played host to the entire song sequence. Generally having a blue colour, the coaches were painted brown and yellow, just for this purpose. After shooting, the coaches were repainted to its original hue. Jostling through the dense vegetation cover of Nilgiri Hills, this is part of the Nilgiri Mountain Railway (NMR), which has been declared a UNESCO heritage facility.

Spotless Choreography

Nilgiri Mountain Railway

Nilgiri Mountain Railway

The fine videography for this song had a major impact on its popularity even though A R Rahman induced a foot-tapping rhythm, which took the crowd by a storm. Shooting over a period of 8 days, the song was deftly choreographed by Farah Khan, with Shah Rukh Khan and Malaika Arora Khan shaking their leg to its tunes atop the train. This sequence was shot exactly in the same manner as it appears on the silver screen. The train runs at low speeds on ratchet and pinion tracks and in its journeys crosses several curves and hairpin bends. The presence of dark tunnels, which has been portrayed in the number, adds spice to the journey by this rail.

Globally Famous

Though the train speed is considerably low, shooting atop was an extremely difficult task. The steam-engine is a delight to watch, and it lends mystic environs to the rhythmic Sufi number. Apart from the two leading actors on the train, a number of dancers match their footsteps in sync. This iconic track, which still echoes in the ears of thousands, was probably the most popular to be shot atop a moving train. In 2002, a global survey conducted by BBC ranked it among the top ten most popular songs of all time.

Apart from becoming lip-synced with the global population, this song has immensely the zone covered by this train. A trip by this rail is mandatory if travellers are coming to this place. Globetrotters coming to spend holidays in India have made it a must to avail a journey by NMR. Travelers can even capture some beautiful snaps while taking this journey.

Leh Ladakh Tour: One of the Most Enchanting Travel Experiences

Leh Ladakh tour is one of the most fascinating trips for travelers coming to the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Often described as the roof of the world, this mountain abode became accessible to tourists only in the last decade. The snow-capped mountains go beyond the eye-sight on bright sunny mornings and peek amidst the dense white clouds. This beautiful region is surrounded by the Kunlun Mountain ranges and the gigantic Himalayas. Adventure travelers who wish for an incredible experience in the upcoming vacation must plan a tour to this picturesque place, which is located in the lap of nature.

Secluded from the World

 

The best and most fascinating thing about a trip to this place is that it lies at a jaw-dropping altitude, ranging from 9000 feet to over 25000 feet. It is completely isolated from the hustle-bustle of the urban world, and tourists can find aesthetic peace out here. It is a place where the heavenly forces united to impart an unrealistic landscape, comprising crystal-clear blue waters to deserts and bright sunlight to frosty winds. Leh, the summer capital of Ladakh, is the most popular tourist spot in Ladakh. This region tops in most lists of India holidays. Though visited by tourists almost round the year, the best time to come here is from April to October.

Belonging to a completely rain-shadow region due to the majestic Himalayas and other mountain ranges, this place has an appearance of a desert. Due to heavy snowfall, the region remains severed from all connections from the rest of the surroundings during winters. Mainly Tibetan Buddhists and followers of Islam occupy this part of the world. If you are planning for an adventure trip with your friends, then a Ladakh tour can be one of the most enchanting trips of your life.