Extreme winter holiday destinations in India

By: TM Abbas & Atrayee

Last Updated: 16- Dec- 2021

Extreme winter holiday destinations in India

Winter months herald with it the season of vacations and outings. While some of us love to curl up into our quilts sipping a hot cup of coffee, some travel buffs spend most hours searching for winter destinations. Yet, winter has its charm in alluring travels to step out of their abodes and visit the scintillating vistas of mountains, frozen lakes, and extensive snow-covered plains. So, whether you are looking for a winter trek, camp, weekend escape, or a trip with your loved ones, we got you covered. Here’s a summary of some of the most extreme winter holiday destinations in India that will push you out of your bed and enjoy this season at its best.

Choose any of these destinations for your upcoming winter vacation and have an unforgettable experience of a lifetime. From snow-clad mountains to drizzling snowfall and a chilly winter breeze, these extreme winter destinations have them all.

Extreme winter holiday destinations you can visit

Gulmarg- the heaven on earth!

The (winter) poster destination of India, Gulmarg,s all about snow, winter sports, and scenic beauty! Literally meaning the “meadow of flowers”, the otherwise lusciously green, Gulmarg gets blanketed with white snow during the chilly months. Flaunted as the skiing paradise of India, it witnesses skiers from all around the world. Among other adventure sports, here, you can try sleighing, trekking, mountain biking, and so on.

Laden with enchanting sights in every mile, Gulmarg is a perfect winter escape!

Things to do:

  1. Trekking

  2. Skiing

  3. Snow view

  4. Sleighing

  5.  Gondola ride (the second longest and second-highest cable car in the world)

  6. Snow Boarding

Places to visit:

  1. Ningle Nallah

  2. Alpathar lake (remains frozen from November to June)

  3.  Gulmarg Biosphere Reserve

  4. Strawberry Valley

  5. Rani Temple

  6. Apharwat Peak

  7. Seven Spring

  8. St. Mary’s Church

  9. Khilanmarg

Ladakh- the land of fluttering prayer flags and gompas!

The “Hassin Wadiyan” of India’s Moonland springs surprises in every bend. Untouched by the hustle of the outside world, Ladakh could be your detoxification trip to the land of the rugged but truest form of nature. Find your peace of mind in the gompas, Shanti stupas, and fluttering Buddhist prayer flags, or get amazed by the beauty of Panging Lake and Nubra Valley. And if your mind is craving for some adventure, you can give a shot to the Chadar Trek on the frozen Zanskar river.

Note: Those visiting Ladakh will need to pay a green fee or environment fee of INR 300 and a Red Cross Fund fee of INR 100. Ladakh is a plastic-free zone, and you must carry enough cash, as ATMs may remain out of service due to bad weather. 

Things to do:

  1. Trekking

  2. Camping

  3. Bird Watching 

  4. Ice climbing

Places to visit:

  1.  Nubra Valley

  2. Pangong Tso Lake

  3. Chang La Pass

  4. Kargil

  5. Shanti stupa

  6. Zanskar Valley

  7. Tiger Hill

Spiti Valley- the spotless frozen canvas!

Spiti Valley in winter is a fairyland, wrapped in the white blanket of snow and ice, standing cut off from the rest of the world. It is in this season that time stands still in Spiti with frozen lakes, rivulets, and waterfalls. While your nerves and bones may feel numb under the influence of chilly wind, your soul and senses will get a warm vibe from the raw beauty of this place. The Spiti landscape and its monasteries look straight out of some postcard during the winter months and can be absolutely enthralling!

Note: Roads via Rohtang Jot and Kunzum La pass remain close during the winter months.

Things to do:

  1. Trekking

  2.  Hiking

  3. Mountain biking

Places to visit:

  1. Kaza

  2. Chandratal Lake 

  3.  Key Monastery

  4. Tabo Monastery

  5. Kibber

  6. Hikkim, Lhangcha, and Komic

  7. Dhankar Monastery

  8. Komic Gompa

  9. Giu monastery

  10. Lhalung Serkhang Gompa

  11. Kungri Monastery

North Sikkim- the winter-fairyland of the northeast!

If you want to experience the spine-chilling cold in an enchanting land of snow-clad mountains, frozen lakes, and coniferous forests, then North Sikkim is your destination. But, be prepared to experience some of the coldest winter nights of your life here, as temperature drops as low as 7- 0 degrees Celsius. So, take a break from your busy life and come close to this winter fairyland, which can give the Swiss Alp’s and even Kashmir run for its money!

 Note: The route to Gorudongmar Lake may remain closed during the winter months. Be prepared to experience different oxygen levels due to changes in altitude.

Things to do:

  1. Trekking

  2.  Biking

  3. Camping

Places to visit:

  1.  Gorudongmar Lake

  2. Cholamu Lake

  3.  Lachen & Lachung

  4. Mangan

  5. Chopta Valley

  6. Yumthang Valley

  7.  Zero Point

  8. Dzongu

  9. Mt. Katao (Army permit needed)

Tawang- the far north-east retreat!

Want to experience winter in the mountains of Arunachal? Look no further and escape to Tawang- the far-away land of waterfalls, lakes, and snow-capped peaks. Although a preferred place to visit during the summer months, Tawang decks in a thick envelope of snow in December and January. The La La Land for snow lovers, it is one of the most underrated hill stations, which offers it a pristine flavor. This extreme winter destination will feed your soul and senses with the correct dose of beauty and charm!

 Note: You will need to get the ILP (Inner Line Permit) to visit Arunachal Pradesh.

Things to do:

  1. Hiking

  2. Trekking

  3.  Meditating

Places to visit:

  1. Sela Pass

  2. Tawang Monastery

  3.  Ani Gompa

  4. Khinmey Monastery

  5. Bumla Pass (Permit required)

  6. Sangti Valley

  7. Patang Teng Tso

  8. War Memorial

  9. Zemithang village

Things to Remember:

So, you have made up your mind and are ready to pack your bags? 

But wait!

Check out the things that you must include in your backpack to plan your extreme winter vacation better.

  1. Medicines & Essentials: The extreme cold and high elevation can cause AMS or common cough and cold. So, do not forget to carry a box of emergency medicines, a first aid kit, and essentials like lip balms & cold creams.

  2. Extra layers: Temperature may fall drastically and as low as -4 degrees. So pack some extra layers with your usual woolens and jackets, especially to cover your neck, ears, and head.

  3. Consult with the local guides: Roads might remain inaccessible due to heavy snowfall. Hence, checking the weather forecast in advance with the local agents would be wise.

  4. Pack some extra tissues: Due to extreme cold and frozen water, some places, like Ladakh, may have only dry- toilets. Extra tissues would come in handy to clean yourself in such situations. 

  5. Sunglasses: Snow reflects harmful UV rays. Hence, carrying a pair of UV sunglasses with anti-glare coatings can save your eyes from those reflections.

  6. Shoes: If you are planning to visit the snowy areas and enjoy winter sports, packing a good pair of snow boots or shoes is crucial. Also, carry extra pair of socks as well. 

Wrapping it up

So, this winter, come out of your blankets and step out to explore these extreme winter holiday destinations with your loved ones. These places are enchanting but bring with them extreme cold and harsh weather. However, that should not discourage you from exploring what we call (can be) the food for your wandering soul. If you wish to learn more, please get in touch with our travel experts. 

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