When we talk about skiing, the first thing that comes into mind is the snow clad mountains of Switzerland. However, what many people do not know is that India offers equally exciting and thrilling opportunities for skiing in the country. While South India is known for its exceptional beaches, North India is known for its majestic Himalayas offering powder white slopes with distinct skiing expeditions. The best time for skiing is India is between the months of January and March. Here are some of the popular skiing locations in the country:
Best Places for Skiing in Jammu and Kashmir
Gulmarg, Baramla District
One of the most popular skiing destinations in India, Gulmarg is also known as the heartland of winter sports in the country. It was also rated as Asia’s seventh best skiing locations by CNN International. Surrounded by beautiful snow capped peaks, Gulmarg offers an unparalleled skiing experience in the country.
Located in Baramla district in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, Gulmarg offers two major points from where the visitors can start skiing. One is Kongdori, a 1476 feet naturally groomed slope that offers a thrilling experience to the skiers and the other is, Aparwahat Peak, which is a 2624 feet descend that is more popular among experienced skiers.
Gulmarg is also home to the world’s highest cable car, about 13,055 feet high, called Gulmarg Gandola. It has mainly two stops – one at Kongdori and the other at Aparwahat Peak. Therefore, one can enjoy a breathtaking view along with a great skiing experience. The best time to go skiing over here is between the months of December and March. Tourists can also enjoy other winter activities such as snowboarding, tobogganing and heli-skiing over here.
Pahalgam, Anantnag District
Pahalgam, located about 45 kilometers from the small town of Anantnag, is another very popular skiing destination in Jammu and Kashmir. More precisely, it is Aru, where most of the skiing takes place. It is located just a few kilometers from Pahalgam. The breathtaking view along with the thrilling skiing experience makes this place very popular among tourists and adventurists. Moreover, there are many institutes over here such as Jawahar Institute of Mountaneering and Winter Sports, which offer short-term skiing courses for beginners.
Best Places for Skiing in Himachal Pradesh
Solang Nala (Valley), Near Manali
Situated about 14 kilometers from the famous hill station – Manali in Himachal Pradesh, Solang Valley is known for its exhilarating winter sports, especially skiing. Due to its giant snow-capped peaks, this place has become a popular ski resort in India. Every year, an exciting winter festival is held over here with participants from all over the world. Recently, a ropeway was also introduced over here.
There are also many tournaments and workshops held in Solang Valley for amateur skiers. A famous institute - Solang Valley
has Mountaineering and Allied Sports Institute is situated over here that is known for offering ski lesions to the beginners. The best time to visit Solang Valley is between the months of December and February, when the snow is nice and thick. However, one can also visit Solang Valley during summer months, when other thrilling activities such as paragliding, zorbing and parachuting are offered.
Kufri, Shimla District
Located about 13 kilometers from the state capital – Shimla, Kufri is a quaint little town, known for its excellent skiing experience. The best part about Kufri is that it offers slopes for both amateurs and experienced skiers. The gentle slopes covered with layers and layers of thick snow offers some amazing skiing experience over here.
Surrounded by tall Deodars and verdant pine trees, it is the highest point in Shimla district. There is also an annual winter festival held in Kufri by the tourist department of Himachal Pradesh, which is attended by thousands of tourists from all over the country. The best time to go skiing in Kufri is between the months of November and February.
Narkanda, Shimla District
Situated at an altitude of 8900 feet, about 65 kilometers from the popular hill station – Shimla, Narkanda is yet another famous ski destination in Himachal Pradesh. Since it is generally not that crowded, tourists and adventurists seeking peaceful time in the mountains can come here for skiing. The best time for skiing in Narkanda is between the months of January and March.
Skiing in Narkanda started during the year 1980 and since then the Himachal Pradesh Tourist Department Corporation (HPTDC) has been conducting regular courses for beginners over here. There are even steep slopes for professionals who don’t mind the cold air rushing against their face. Narkanda is also known for its inviting apple orchards and thick forests. The beautiful view of eternal snow combined with tempting apple orchards and verdant forests will certainly leave you with unforgettable memories.
Best Places for Skiing in Uttarakhand
Auli is one of the most upcoming ski destinations in India. Even though it is less popular than Gulmarg or Solang Valley, it has quickly become a favorite winter sports destination in the country. Situated about 250 kilometers from Rishikesh, Auli is known for its clean environment with pristine white slopes. It is a perfect retreat from the noisy city life.
The slopes over here range from an altitude of 8200 feet to 9850 feet, thus offering a great skiing adventure to both amateurs and experienced skiers. There is also a 0.5 kilometer long ski lift and a 0.8 kilometer long chair lift over here that help skiers to reach the top of the mountain. Auli has had the great honor of hosting the first ever SAF Winter Games in the country in 2011. Since then, this place has gained a lot of recognition among tourists. Just like all the other popular ski resorts in India, Auli is also home to a great skiing institute that offers short term skiing courses. The best time for skiing in Auli is between the months of December and February, when the snow is nice and fresh.
Munsiyari, Pithoragarh District
Literally meaning ‘Place With Snow’, Munsiyari in Uttarakhand has become a fast growing tourist spot especially among mountaineers, adventurists, glacier enthusiasts, trekkers and nature lovers. Situated at an altitude of 7200 feet, on the banks of River Goriganga, Munsiyari, like all other ski resorts, offers an extraordinary skiing experience. Known for its immense natural beauty and snow-capped mountains, this place has become the adventure hub of the country.
Dayara Bugyal, Uttarkashi District
Another very popular ski destination in Uttarakhand, Dayara Bugyal offers a great skiing experience for both beginners and experienced skiers. Due to high amounts of snowfall during winter months, this place has become very popular among both local and foreign tourists. The slopes over here vary from easy to tough and there is even a training institute that offers skiing lessons to the beginners. The best time for skiing in Dayara Bugyal is between the months of December and February.
Mundali, Dehradun District
If you are bored of all the crowded tourist ski destinations and want to try skiing at an exotic location, then Mundali is the place for you. Situated about 130 kilometers from Dehradun, Mundali not just offers a great skiing experience but also a spectacular view of snow covered peaks of the Himalayas. Moreover, there is also a ski institute located over here that offers various beginner and intermediate level ski courses.
Best Places for Skiing in Sikkim
Phuni Valley, Near Lachung
Located about 18 kilometers from Lachung in Sikkim, Phuni Valley is a beautiful valley that has recently become one of the most popular ski centers of India. Situated at an elevation of 11,000 feet, the snow clad slopes of Phuni Valley offers a relaxing yet exciting ski experience to the tourists. Moreover, while gliding down the snowy peaks, one can also view the picturesque valley below. The best time to visit Phuni Valley for skiing is between the months of January and March.
Yumthang Valley, North Sikkim District
Even though it is one of the lesser known destinations for skiing in India, Yumthang Valley offers a wide range of winter sports for the tourists. Situated at an elevation of 11,800 feet, the valley is covered with a thick blanket of snow from November to March, making it an ideal destination for skiing for both beginners and advance skiers. Since this place is still upcoming, it is not usually crowded therefore tourists can enjoy skiing over here without being disturbed by unwanted noise.
Best Places for Skiing in Arunachal Pradesh
Tawang, Tawang District
Situated at an elevation of 10,000 feet in the northern part of Arunachal Pradesh, Tawang is yet another lesser-known ski destination in India. It receives heavy snowfall during the winter months. The ski facilities at Tawang cater to both the needs of beginner and advance level skiers. The best time to visit this place for skiing is between the months of December and April.
Tips for Beginner Skiers in India
If you are a beginner and want to try skiing in India, ensure that you take proper training and instruction from a certified institute first. As a novice skier, you will fall down a lot but do not be disheartened; skiing is not a difficult sport to learn.
Also, ensure that you are wearing proper ski clothes and boots while skiing, which will help you keep warm. Please carry medicines, water bottles, snacks and any other important things that you might need as many of the ski resorts are located far from towns and cities and may not have advance facilities available immediately.