Your partner has turned into a raging bull because you have not planned anything for the holidays or you are warming your seat in an empty office with Christmas decorations dangling about your head. If this is you every year, worry not. We are taking you from West to East, to places where you can enjoy a perfect, snowed out holiday. All you have to do is sit back and take your pick!
1. Snow-capped Pir Panjal mountain range
The Pir Panjal range of Himalayas running through Jammu & Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh is dotted with snow covered destinations.
Our first stop is Gulmarg in Jammu & Kashmir that falls on the west of Pir Panjal range. Covered in depths of thick snow and exuding an out-worldly beauty, people flock here despite the freezing weather and ground covered under many inches of snow. You can spend a perfect holiday in Gulmarg with fellow tourists, enjoying the snow, attending Christmas mass, taking Gondola rides or doing fun stuff like skiing and riding snow bikes.
Spoiler alert – Nearby, Srinagar’s famous fountains and gardens maybe closed during this time. But who wants to roam gardens when you can go joy riding on snow covered tracks.
Moving east on the Pir Panjal range, we find the popular holiday spot of Manali in Himachal Pradesh. Surrounded with spectacular white-mountains and breathtaking scenic beauty, this is where you should head if you have Switzerland in mind but don’t have the time or extra cash to burn. After getting your fill of the snow, you can enjoy Manali’s hot water springs or try ice skating on its snowy slopes. Rohtang pass is a must-visit.
Spoiler alert – honeymooners abound in this area, you may run into couples with arms interlocked, at every corner you turn.
2. Ice-topped Garhwal Himalayan range
Turning further east on the map, we are greeted with the Garhwal Himalayan range that falls in the state of Uttarakhand. Lush snow, flora and fauna make it a great stopover.
With the glistening Garhwal range on the horizon, Auli in Uttarakhand is known as a skiing and trekking destination. While you slide away its slopes and inclines, your partner, family or mates can enjoy roaming in the gorgeous oak and coniferous forests, sample apples at orchards or throw snowballs at each other, like in the movies.
Spoiler alert – Sub-zero temperatures and howling winds can discourage you from stepping out, but once you have done this, you will never run out of stories to impress your mates.
If exotic is not your cup of tea, let’s go further down to the foothills of the Garhwal range, to the super popular holiday locale of Mussourie. Striking views of snow covered Himalayas, dazzling white streets, shopping on the Mall road, visiting temples & monasteries and ringing in the New Year with pomp and show…this town offers you everything that you would want in a winter break.
Spoiler alert – If you have an unexplored destination in mind, this is not the place, as Mussourie has a very ‘touristy’ feel to it. The good part is, you can take as many selfies as you want. Uninterrupted!
3. Snow treasures of Kangchenjunga
Welcome to East India, and to the third highest mountain range in the world! The mighty Kangchenjunga is filled with stark white valleys, snow topped mountains and touches West Bengal before extending across to Sikkim and Nepal.
Christmas and New Year’s are quite an experience in Darjeeling, West Bengal. Filled with merry-makers from all over, stores and public spaces are adorned with decorations and colourful lights, while restaurants line up delicacies like plum cakes, puddings, pies, gingerbread and stuff. Bonfires at street corners, strumming of the guitar, loud carol singing and if you are lucky, a nice, good snowfall around new year.
Spoiler alert – December is mostly clear skied and chilly without any snowfall. To enjoy snow, you need to go higher up to Sandakphu or Tumling, which we will strongly recommend!
If you have still not had your fill of the Kangchenjunga, try Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim. Fascinating views of the snow covered range all around, compensates for the lack of snowfall in the town. Wrapped in white mist, Gangtok is perfect for taking long walks, enjoying local cuisine, participating in festive revelry and gazing at the snow-white Kangchenjunga for hours.
Spoiler alert – Thick fog that lasts for most parts of the day and sets in early evening can be a dampener. We recommend picturing yourself in a quaint town, draped in thick fog, a steaming bowl of thukpa in hand, a murder mystery tucked under your arm and then making up your mind.
4. Land of frozen lakes
We are now in the North-East, bringing to you the lesser frequented holiday destination of Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh. Not many people venture here in winters but if you do, you will witness the whitest snow you have ever seen. Tawang is an exotic destination with white frozen lakes that look glass-topped, ice covered hills, stark white forests and landscape dotted with Buddhist monasteries. December is very festive in these parts and if you can make this trip, you will carry its memory forever.
Spoiler alert –You can experience delays in travel when roads get snow bound. But an extra holiday or two in Tawang’s scenic locales, cut off from rest of the world can’t hurt much.
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