I still remember the times during my childhood when I would practice skating at one of the finest schools in Delhi. Every time I stood on my board, I could feel as if I was missing something and needed more adventure. It was in the year 2012 when I visited Kufri and discovered ‘skiing.’ Thanks to that ‘travel bug’ inside me that never allows me to stay at one place for a long time. Honestly, this was the first time when I saw people ‘skiing’ and was surprised with the measure of adventure involved. Probably, I started getting the answer to my childhood question of missing something. It led me to my ‘skiing’ journey and helped me explore some of the finest snow skiing destinations in India.
With all that I’ve been learning these years, I’ve tried serving you some of the best places to start your skiing journey. Not just the beginners but the intermediate and advanced level players will also love visiting these places. Let’s add some adventure to our lives and keep rolling!
Gulmarg is one of the oldest snow skiing destinations in India. Situated in the Northmost state of Jammu Kashmir in India, Gulmarg is known worldwide for its skiing arrangements. The hill station is also known for housing India’s highest Skiing resort and is the third-highest skiing resort in the world. I consider Gulmarg as a suitable skiing spot for both beginners and advanced players. The stretched slope between both sides of the mountains provides you with a ‘wide’ ground to practice your skills. At the same time, you can easily spot ‘bunny slopes’ here that is the main attraction of first-time skiers. But, what attracts me the most about Gulmarg is that some of the slopes here (often termed as phases) remain open 24 hours a day and, you can undergo a skiing session even during the night.
However, if you plan to visit Gulmarg during peaks seasons that includes the new year and Xmas weekend, you may feel disappointed after seeing the heavy crowd here. While the destination is full of ski enthusiasts, the hill station also witnesses a heavy influx of general tourists, newly-wedded couples and novice skiers during this period. The Gondola (also known as the ski-lift or cable car in some parts of the world) is available in Gulmarg but you may have to stand in queues to get the tickets. The hill station, sometimes, is overpacked and, you may not even get the ticket. Don’t worry. I suggest you a solution. Plan your trip either before 20th December or after 10th January. It is the time when most of the crowd subsides and you can easily enjoy your skiing session, maybe multiple slopes a day.
I visited Munsiyari in the year 2018 for the first time. However, it wasn’t the skiing experience I was looking for. I came here to see the mighty Panchachuli Mountain Range, which is counted among the virgin mountains. Munsiyari is a hamlet located in the Pithoragarh district of Uttarakhand, India. The small town is situated far away from the country rush and is very close to the Tibet-China border. It was then when I came to know about an International Skiing Event that was going to be organised in Munsiyari in late winters that year. I decided to come back and join the festival.
I must say, Munsiyari is hidden heaven for ski lovers. The Khaliya Top, located at a trekking distance of eight kilometres from Munsiyari, offers you unseen views of Panchachuli and Nepal Himalayas. The mountains seem so close that you need to lift your head to be able to see them fully. Meanwhile, the vast ski field stretched over several square kilometres will send a chill through your spines. During the winters, you can find people visiting Munsiyari for some good trekking experience and even camping.
Munsiyari is a developing ski resort and if you are the one who wants to take one step ahead to adventure, Munsiyari should be on your bucket list.
If you ask me the names of some ‘not-so-very popular’ snow skiing destinations in India, Tawang will top the list. But, I insist that ‘not popular’ never means ‘not beautiful.’ To start with, Tawang is a small hill station located in the Arunachal Pradesh State of India. Being not much known among the skiing community worldwide, Tawang is one of the best places if you are a beginner in skiing. The best part is the lesser crowd and commendable hospitality of the people living here makes your sporting experience memorable here. The guides or instructors may not be easily available in Tawang, however, you can book them over some online portals.
What kills me the most at some other destinations is the crowd present there. When I started skiing, the greatest challenged I faced was facing the crowd itself. It sometimes may be disturbing as it breaks your flow and you’ve to start all over again. However, the case is not the same with Tawang. The slopes are mostly less populated and let you set your own pace. The best skiing slopes in Tawang are near the frozen Ptso Lake, situated around 16kilometres from the main town. Again, you may plan to carry your ‘own’ pieces of equipment as sometimes you may not find them easily here.
One thing that must be kept in mind before going to Tawang is obtaining the permit which is generally known as the Inner Line Permit or ILP. You can obtain the ILP from the registered offices of the authority at places like Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata etc. However, the more convenient approach is obtaining the ILP online. You can follow this link https://arunachalilp.com/onlineApp.do to register yourselves.
Solang is a hill station located in the Himachal Pradesh State of India. The town lies close to the very famous tourist spot called Manali and is often visited together. Solang has emerged as a skiing destination only in the past few years. Although, I’ve seen that Himachal Pradesh consists of a wide number of skiing destinations. However, you’ll find only some hairline difference as you visit each of these places. But, why I suggest Solang is because of the nature of the snow that I found here. The snow here is milky and powdery, making it perfect for skiing. At the same time, ropeways are something that makes it different from other skiing spots in Himachal.
Solang is generally full more of novice skiers than proficient ones (at least this is what I observed.) However, several private and govt. skiing institutes have evolved here in the past few years to help you learn skiing. Instructors are easily available at Solang. I will always advise you to hire an instructor even if you’re an advanced skier. This may help avoid untoward incidents like avalanches.
If you are the one who has been asking people about the best snow skiing destinations in India, you would have certainly heard of Auli. The very famous hill station, Auli, is located in the Chamoli district of Uttarakhand, India. The hill station is known for snow sports for the past two decades, one of the oldest in India.
What I (and almost everyone) love about Auli is the gondola (chair-lift) here. The chair lift is like a sofa that hangs on a cable. While you take your ride chair-lift ride, you undergo an immense adrenaline rush. The ride ends near a lake situated at the top. This artificial lake is also counted amongst the highest man-made lakes in the world. What makes Auli different from other ski resorts is that even during the scarce snowfall seasons, the lake water can be used to produce artificial ice (or snowflakes) with the help of advanced German technology. This is the reason why Auli is preferred by most of the pro-skiers!
Meanwhile, Auli has also been a training ground of the Indo-Tibetian Border Police. Being close to the Tibet border, you may find a touch of Tibetan culture here. If you plan to visit Auli, you must also plan to do camping in Chopta. The famous hill station, Chopta, is located close to Auli and is known for its world’s highest Shiva Temple, Tungnath. The two destinations are generally travelled together.
Pretty sure, you must be ready to explore each of these destinations to the fullest by now. However, as we travel and tick off our bucket list, we must also remember to keep these destinations clean. Today, most of the snow skiing destinations in India have started deteriorating due to plasticants and pollutants, making it difficult to ski. At such times, it becomes our responsibility to keep the mountains clean! Let us inch towards a beautiful journey!