Winters are here and this time they are making up for the last few years. While most of the people plan to spend their holidays and week offs curled up in a blanket and sipping hot chocolate; there are some like me, who love to explore new places and enjoy the chilly weather (while sipping hot chocolate, of course). From the magical Himachal Pradesh to relaxing Kerala, there are many places to visit in winters in India that will make you want to get out of your cosy beds and experience the season at its best.
Here we have curated a list of top winter destinations in India that you must visit:
- Rann of Kutch
First up on our list is Gulmarg. This hill town nestled in the northern-most state of India is magical all-year-round, but its charm is enhanced upon the arrival of winters. The snow-laden landscape and frozen lakes make this place a perfect destination to indulge in snow activities like skiing and snowboarding. Adventure seekers can satiate their hunger for adrenaline rush by trekking on one of the many trails that become even more challenging during the season.
- Not to Miss: Cable car ride
Shimla-Kufri is definitely among the most popular destinations in North India for people who like to experience snowfall. The capital city of Himachal is surrounded by rolling hills and snow-covered forests, which open the path for many adventure activities. Numerous restaurants lining the Mall road make for the perfect setting to enjoy panoramic views of the Himalayas while sipping a cup of hot tea.
- Not to Miss: Ice skating at the open-air skating rink
Towering mountains, deodar trees, winding roads and heavy snowfall; we are talking of India’s loved winter destination, Manali! Situated in Himachal Pradesh, this hill station is a paradise for snow lovers, honeymooners and adventure lovers. Whether it is a biking trip to Rohtang Pass, paragliding in Solang Valley or hiking up to Jogini Waterfalls, Manali will leave you with a memorable experience and urge you to come back more than once.
- Not to Miss: Food walk in Old Manali
Want to learn skiing while magnificent peaks of Nanda Devi, Neelkanth and Mana Parbat are looking over you? Then, you must head to the best skiing destination of India – Auli! While it boasts of lush green valleys almost throughout the year, visiting this place in peak winters lets you see it in a completely different light. The landscape is covered with a thick layer of snow, numerous ski resorts dotting the region are bustling with holidaymakers, and adventure junkies are on their way to tame the snow-laden slopes.
- Not to Miss: National Championship of Skiing
Binsar is a lesser-known name when it comes to hill stations to visit in winters in India. But believe us when we say, it is one of the most spectacular places you will ever visit. It is a quaint little hill station in Uttarakhand that offers breathtaking views of cloud-touching Kedarnath, Trishul and Nanda Devi peaks, making it a photographer’s paradise. What makes this hill resort even more exciting is the Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary where you can find an extensive variety of flora and fauna species.
- Not to Miss: A trip to Zero Point
Another hill station in Himachal Pradesh, but different from any other, Dalhousie is ideal for anyone who enjoys colonial charm. Winters bring out the best of this place as the mercury falls below freezing point and the chilly breeze invites you to come out and have the time of your life. December sees a horde of trekking enthusiasts as Dalhousie hosts the National Himalayan Winter Trekking Expedition.
- Not to Miss: A hike through the Deodar forest
7. Rann of Kutch
Want to camp under the stars on the largest salt sand desert in sub-zero temperatures? Then, head to Rann of Kutch during the winter months. Famous for the Rann Utsav – a two-month long cultural festival – this place looks something straight out of dreams. Traditional food, authentic handicrafts, desert safari and star gazing, complemented by a wide expanse of white land, oh what a sight it is! The Kutch Festival invites lakhs of tourists from all around the world, so we recommend you make your bookings way in advance.
- Not to Miss: Camping in Dhordo Village
The onset of winters marks the beginning of party season throughout the world. And what better place to kick-start your New Year celebrations than the party capital of India – Goa! Pleasant climate, serene beaches, a variety of water sports, throbbing nightclubs and parties that continue till the dawn make this destination a perfect getaway during the winters. Apart from this, travellers love the place for the Goa Carnival, Goa Film Festival, and Christmas parties.
- Not to Miss: Sunrise and sunset at one of the many beaches
Want to enjoy winters at a hill station but can’t bear the cold? Head to Wayanad for a dream vacation amidst the Western Ghats. Situated in the ‘God’s Own Country’ – Kerala, this picturesque town has everything one looks for on a holiday – food, culture, history and warm people. To make things more exciting, there are several bird watching spots and trekking trails in Wayanad that attract tourists from all over the country.
- Not to Miss: A visit to Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary and Edakkal Caves
Rightfully called the ‘Venice of the East’, Udaipur has the kind of charm that lures hundreds of thousands of tourists from around the world, throughout the year. The magnificent Lake Palace, Fateh Sagar Lake, Jag Mandir, Lake Pichola and many such medieval-era marvels are the reason behind it. The number of visitors particularly increases in the winters as the lakes and surrounding Aravali hills work in tandem to keep the temperature just perfect for sightseeing. And if you are an art connoisseur, plan your trip during the Shilpgram Arts and Crafts Festival to witness traditional performances.
- Not to Miss: Dinner date at the bank of Lake Pichola
Although Jaisalmer is quite hot and humid for the better part of the year, the winter months of December and January make for ideal weather to visit this desert city. Activities like desert camping, camel rides, quad biking, dune bashing, parasailing and more, keep the adventure junkies occupied, while the Desert Festival, Nerasi Music School, Kuldhara Village and Sonar Quila take you on a cultural ride.
- Not to Miss: A drive to the famous Longewala Post
Tawang is an offbeat hill station situated in the North-eastern state of Arunachal Pradesh. It is undoubtedly the most difficult places to reach in winters, from this list, but once you capture the glorious views of the snow-covered Himalayas, valleys wrapped by colourful prayer flags and ancient monasteries, the efforts put in would seem worthwhile. If you are interested in attending cultural events, visit Tawang in January for Torgya Festival, or in February for Losar.
- Not to Miss: A visit to Urgelling Monastery – the birthplace of the 6th Dalai Lama
Home to old Indo-China Silk Route, Gangtok is a unique hill station that offers something for everyone. From Buddhist pilgrims to trekkers, tourists to honeymooners, every kind of traveller can find an activity of their interest. Rich flora and fauna, tranquil high-altitude lakes, colourful monasteries and views of the surreal Himalayas entice you like no other place. While Gangtok doesn’t receive any snowfall, the temperature soars around 4 degrees, so be mindful while packing for the trip.
Not to Miss: A trip to Nathula Pass and Tsomgo Lake
Mentioned above are some of the best places to visit in winters in India, but the list is certainly not confined to these. If you are not the one who like to travel long distances during winters, there are many ways to enjoy the season by staying close to your city. All you need is the willingness to leave the bed behind and start exploring.