With winter arriving, many are thinking of and looking for places where they can celebrate the New Year. While travelers come to India looking to visit their friends and family, not too many view it as a complete destination that can offer varied tastes of the winter and festive season.
Admittedly, while India is in no way a choice for the Winter Olympics, there are several ways in which the cold winter can be experienced in numerous locations all across the country. There are special sights, activities, and even sporting adventures available for all spread across the vast North Indian region ensuring pleasure in travel and comfort.
You have no doubt heard of many discussing the majestic sight of the Taj Mahal on a cold, frosty morning, or of being in the sands of Rajasthan. These are highlights of an Indian tour, but are no way the defining factors of a holiday. To have a great winter holiday, here are some wonderful elements that you can sample.
Some believe that North India is uniform in its climate and offerings; however, there is a vast world of exploration that awaits them in this region. There are flat plains that have a cold but genial temperament, and hills that set the mood for winter fun. The high peaks of the Himalayan Mountains are where the challenge truly lies, and this is where avid enthusiasts look to find thrills.
For the extreme adventure traveler, snow and high altitudes may be what you seek. The highest altitude in India brings you the most bitter winter experience. The winds singe you, dazzling light reflecting off the ice heats the eyes, and the altitude sends you into a spin. Here you will find the ultimate in mountain and snow sports. If you want a winter vacation that sends your heart racing and chills up your spine, you will need to be nestled in the lap of Leh. To be able to experience such extreme pleasures, come to this town via flight from Delhi. Once there, you will find challenging walks on frozen rivers and skating on glaciers await you. Before taking off for Leh, it is best to check with an agent or authorities, since the weather can sometimes render the region out of bounds.
Leh is still known to some distinguished travelers for its exclusivity. There are other locations where similar thrills can be explored. Of these, a small location called Munsiyari in the state of Uttarachal has delights that can bring new definitions to the word “fun.” Munsiyari offers you the most spectacular scene of the Himalayas, including a view of the most worthy peaks. The glamour of Munsiyari actually begins en route, as you commute through some of the most picturesque roads and slopes. Driving along rivers and nature walks may seem relaxing and therapeutic, but in these areas they are challenging enough to get your heart racing. Locations around Musiyari worth visiting include Jageshwar and Chaukori. When travelling to these locations, ensure that you have plenty of time available. Let the places be your guide and chart the course for you. Do not hurry the pace.
Srinagar and Sonmarg are the most popular destinations in Kashmir. While there is no denying that these are most beautiful, a fantastic experience can be had in the highest snow lift in the world. Travel from Gulmarg all the way up to Apharwat. This may take some time, considering you have a long distance to cover, but every minute is worth it. Not only are the scenes visually breathtaking, you may also be out of breath from being so far up in the mountains. Ensure you are in good shape before exploring this destination.
For the best skiing experience, visit Auli, located in Uttarakhand. An overnight journey will bring you to this ski town, where you can enjoy terrific skiing adventure, and take in the snow capped peaks of the lofty Himalayas. While the commute to Auli is in itself an adventure, the resort city of Auli will comfort and delight you.
Mussoorie is among the most popular hill stations in the North. However, there is a noted sense of commercialism associated with the town. To enjoy the pleasures of Mussoorie and still absorb its rustic beauty, visit nearby Kanatal. While this is a destination that can be visited any time of year, the winter displays its more magical side. December through March is when Kanatal is carpeted with snow, and adventure activity begins almost instantly. The city is extremely enjoyable since it blends a judicious mix of leisure and activity.
Panitop is a location that may be a little difficult to access in the winter; however, the commute from Jamme is truly worth the trek. Here, you will find that snowy white really finds new meaning. Fresh snowfall and chilly frosts add to the picture and refresh the senses.
For those who think that fun does not set with the sun, your perfect vacation spot is in the state of Sikkim. Lachung and Lachen are great locations, although they are removed and far from modern civilization. Sikkim is where you will readily find the cold, snow and all that is associated with it. Sikkim is among the few locations in North India where you will find welcoming casinos that can keep you cheery company through the bitter nights.
Christmas in Shimla is truly magical. The city is lit at its best, the central church welcomes hundreds of tourists and devotees, and the air outside whispers all the secrets that you could imagine. This is as true to a white Christmas that can be experienced in its fullest in India. Meanwhile, smaller locations in the surrounding areas of Kufri and Shilon Bagh welcome travelers with open arms and a little less pretence. They are sublime havens that offer natural beauty with little human intervention. Whether on the potato plantations that conveniently transform into skiing tracks during the winter, or in the sporting events that are made with makeshift mechanisms, you will find a new, quaint way to enjoy everything fun.
Another fascinating location is a little ways off from the famous Dehradun. Chakrata, found in the Garhwal region, is known for its scenic surroundings giving you many reasons to stay here longer. Whether on the pristine slopes, in dense forests, or while skiing and trekking, Chakrata has its own way of making things pleasurable. The gardens and waterfalls assume new form, while the temple displays renewed beauty at this time.
If you are among those who embrace winter and chill in the air, a vast expanse awaits you in the foothills and peaks of the Himalayan Mountains. For those who need a deserved break, explore mellow foothills and plains. To move away from the main cities, explore some of the smaller towns that are a short distance away from the popular haunts. Sure enough, you will find new reasons to love each location.
For weary travelers longing to escape iciness and instead seek reassuring sunshine, travel to the southern regions for great comfort and cheer. You can travel anywhere in South India to find ways to enjoy the winter. Although it would be foolish to expect any cold here, the cheer of the season is apparent in the generous traffic of relaxed travelers.
Since it is still winter Christmastime, even if you are not in the lap of cold, you may still want to savor the taste of the season at its best. Kerala, a state where the Christian population is significant, continues to have embrace the native South Indian spirit in its heart, bringing a rather unique flavor to the holiday season. This is a Christmas unlike the conventional, where foods are altered to suit the region, and customs are modified accordingly. What remains unchanged is the festive cheer and the happiness that is shared by all. For a different taste of Christmas, head to any top destinations in Kerala and ensure that you are there in time for midnight mass. The happy party continues through the day thereafter.
For the true Christian, Christmas is complete with ritual and fervor, so you may want to explore Goa. Churches can accommodate large congregations, the people know how to get a Christmas celebration underway, and the city truly lends itself to the season perfectly. Although Goa can become crowded during this season, it is truly worth a visit and all the fuss.
Winter means very special things in India. This is the time when there are several religious and cultural observances, where the brightest colors and the most extraordinary sounds come to life, and where the people are at their cheerful best.
What makes India so special is its simplicity. It is noticeable at first glance how the country is unpretentious, allowing for a display of all its elements without any fuss or deception. Like any nation, India continues to fight to make life better for its citizens. It is this simple lifestyle and flawed experience that makes a holiday complete and memorable. Even within the confines of struggle, there are world-class accommodations and travel arrangements available. Combined with the energy of a people who are always looking to welcome guests and serve them fully, there is no other place where you can find such an experience.
With several locations to choose from, winter in India, from the perspective of all senses, delights the mind. Food, shopping, simple experiences and the many sights are all symbols that can move the soul. This contributes largely to making holidays in India a great pleasure.
If there is one word that can help describe an Indian winter – it is wondrous. Though not covered completely in snow and ice, the wonder of winter in India is rare to find in any other location or at any other time. India in winter is the experience of a real holiday.