Skiing is by far the most popular winter sport in the entire world. If you love snow and want to try your hand at skiing, ditch the Alps and head on over to India. With the glorious Himalayan mountain range within her border, Indian winters transform the landscape. India has some of the best skiing destinations in the entire world thanks to the majestic Himalayas range which caps the country like a crown.
1. Auli, Uttarakhand
One of Uttarakhand’s most popular ski destinations in India, Auli resides at a height of between 2,500 and 3,000 meters. The area was once the base for paramilitary soldiers and, judged by foreign experts, has turned out to be one of the best ski destinations in the world. Auli is surrounded by vast acres of oak and coniferous forests. Skiing through these snow covered forests is very exciting. One of the best things about this side of Uttarakhand is that the government maintains various arrangements here to make skiing possible for everyone, both novice and pro alike. On the onset of the winter, the mountains of Auli gets covered in a blanket of snow. The best month for skiing is January as Auli receives the maximum snowfall at this time which continues till the last week of march.
- Cost: The cost is INR 13,500 plus service tax of 3.63% for six days.
- Best Time to Visit: The best time to visit the place is from December to February.
- How to Reach: By Air: Nearest airport to the hill station of Auli is located in Dehradun, The Jolly Grant airport. From here, Auli is 279 km away, which can cover in hired taxis/cabs.
- By Rail: If you wish to make use of the railways, the nearest you can travel is the Haridwar railway station. From the station, taxis and buses are readily available for the hill station (273 km away).
- By Road: The major cities of Uttarakhand; Haridwar, Rishikesh and Uttarakhand, are well connected with the other parts of India via national highways. From these cities, one can board the earliest bus to the town of Johshimath (16 km before Auli). These cities score high in terms of bus and cab service.
2. Rohtang Pass
Rohtang La is a famous pass at the height of 3979 m on the Keylong/Leh highway. This popular gateway to Lahaul Spiti, Pangi and Leh valley is only open during the time period of June to October and remains closed in winters due to heavy snowfall. Especially, the month of May is peak season for tourists and it becomes a hotspot for adventure lovers. Skiing is the most famous adventure sport of Rohtang Pass due to favorable environmental conditions. The place offers a beautiful white snow covered view approximate nine months of the year. Even there is proper management of good training centers of skiing and National level ski competitions arranged by the travel and tourism department. During the peak season, the pass is jam-packed and thus to avoid delay, one must leave quite early. It is quite popular amid adventure junkies and features in the list of must-visit places of Manali.
- Entry Fees: INR 700
- Best Time To Visit: May to October
- BY AIR: The nearest airport is in Bhuntar about 104 km from Rohtang Pass. Manali falls on the same road, National Highway 21, about 51 km from Bhuntar Airport in Himachal Pradesh.
- BY TRAIN: Joginder Nagar is the nearest railway station which is about 103 km from Rohtang Pass and 50 km from Manali.
- BY ROAD: It is well connected by Himachal Road Transport Corporation buses that start from Manali and go as far as Leh via Rohtang Pass and then through Keylong.
3. Solang Valley, Himachal Pradesh
Skiing in Solang Valley is a mesmerising adventure sport every snow-fanatic should experience. The region is 14 km northwest to the very popular hillstationof Manali. Solang features high mountain slopes that turn milky white when it snows here. Owing to the geography of the valley and its heavy snowfall prone trait, Solang valley has turned into a major ski destination in India. Ski slopes and abundant snow in the winter makes Solang Valley an undoubtedly one of the most beautiful valleys in India. It is the perfect place to spend your winter vacation in, enjoying some of the most sought-after adventure activities, like skiing etc. Solang being known as a skier’s paradise offers the perfect opportunity to enjoy the white snow landscapes from different levels, and board through it for unlimited fun. From the top station, there is a vertical drop of 500 meters to the base station.
- Timing: Winters 8 AM to 4 PM
- Best Time to Visit: December to January
- By Train – the closest railway station to Solang Valley is Joginder Nagar Railway Station, which is located at a distance of 175 km from the valley.
- By Air – The Kullu Manali airport situated in Bhuntar is the closest airport to Solang Valley. It is 63 kilometers away from the valley, and you can take a cab or taxi to the valley once you get off the plane at the airport.
- By Road – Solang Valley is very well connected to the rest of the country via a network of roads. In fact, there are a number of buses that go from Manali to Delhi on a regular basis.
4. Pahalgam, Jammu and Kashmir
Gulmarg, the best ski resort in the Himalayas, was first established by the British in 1927, when two British Army Officers, Maj. Metcarp and Maj. Hadow had setup the Ski Club of India at Gulmarg. Gulmarg holds a position as one of the highest lift-served ski resorts in the world. This is due to setting-up of a Gandola Cable Car Lift from Gulmarg to Apharwat top. Presently, only the first section of the Gandola, from Gulmarg to Kongdori is operational, giving a downhill ski run of about 3 kms. In addition, three ski lifts and one chair lift also service the resort, which are suitable for beginners and intermediate-level skiing. Some time back, the famous French skier Sylvain Saudan, had started Heli-skiing in the Himalayas for European skiers. He would take the skiers by helicopter on top of Gulmarg mountain and other peaks in the area from where they would ski down the immense Himalayan slopes. This programme has been suspended for the time being.
- Air: The nearest airport to Pahalgam is Srinagar situated 96 kms away. One can easily hire a taxi from the airport to reach the final destination
- Rail: Udhampur serves as the nearest railhead to Gulmarg, situated about 217 kms away. Jammu railway station is another alternative, the station being at a distance of 285 kms. One can easily avail a taxi from Jammu and Udhampur till Pahalgam while enjoying the scenic beauty of the region.
- Road: Pahalgam is easily accessible through motorable road from Srinagar and other neighbouring regions of the state.
- Best Time to Visit: December To March
5. Phuni Valley, Sikkim
Gulmarg is a mountain shelf nestled under Mount Apharwat and runs the highest gondola or cable car on earth, ascending to a height of 3,980m and reaching a shoulder of the nearby Mount Apharwat peak (4,200m). The two-stage ropeway via Kongdoori provides lift-served access to 1,330 vertical metres of snowy terrain and allows a ski run of 2,213m. Heli-skiing is another added attraction here while veterans delight in off-piste/backcountry skiing. The natural slopes of the valley create perfect skiing opportunities for experts as well as the beginners of the sport. Sikkim Mountaineering Association (SMA) has recently introduced this sport when thick carpet of snow settles in the valley.
- Best Time To Visit: December to March
- By Air: Bagdogra Airport in West Bengal at distance of 210 kilometers is the nearest airport to Yumthang. The airport has good connectivity to several cities across the country. You can take a bus or a cab to Lachung and to the valley.
- By Rail: Jalpaiguri station that is located in the town of Siliguri is the nearest railway station. Distance from the railhead to the Yumthang Valley is 250 kilometers. Hire buses and cars from the railway station to the scenic valley and it takes around 8 hours.
- By Road: Yumthang Valley is well connected to Lachung. The hill town is easily accessible in various parts of Sikkim by buses and cabs, although the frequency is low.