The mention of India conjures up images of the Taj Mahal, regal palaces, opulent Havelis (mansions), towering forts, exotic beaches, ancient heritage landmarks, exciting wildlife safaris and massive metropolitans brimming with millions. And, of course, heat and humidity.
You are, however, in for a pleasant surprise.
There is more to India. Snow, misty snow-clad mountains, idyllic lakes breathtaking scenery, lots of winter sports and snow-oriented adventures.
Hidden in the northern and northeastern parts of India are some of the planet’s most scintillating hill stations that are ideal for snow-filled adventures and tranquil holidays.
India is home to the mighty Himalayas —the tallest and most formidable mountain range in the world— aptly described as the “Rooftop of the World.”
In the shadows of this majestic mountain range and its foothills (usually described by the moniker Lower Himalayas) are some great destinations for a snow-filled holiday.
In general, the best time of the year to enjoy a holiday in the backdrop of snow is during the peak winter months (December-March).
10 Best Places To Visit To Enjoy Snowfall In India
Here is our list of the top 10 best places to see snowfall in India that you should visit this year.
You might also want to indulge in some local cultural immersions and heritage trails as well. We have, therefore, also listed “things you can do/places to see” attractions for you as well so your trip is well-rounded and memorable.
These destinations provide Indians (millions of them) the perfect escape during the hot summer months when heat and humidity take over the low-lying plains of India. In the winter months, tourists flock to this region again to witness snow (a rare sight for most Indians who live in the plains and tropical coastal regions).
The marriage season in India usually takes off during the winter months (October to March) and many of these snow-clad hill stations also double as the perfect honeymoon destination for star-struck lovers.
- 1. Auli, Uttarakhand
- 2. Gulmarg (Jammu And Kashmir)
- 3. Pahalgam (Jammu And Kashmir)
- 4.Sonamarg (Jammu And Kashmir)
- 5. Ladakh
- 6. Nainital (Uttarakhand)
- 7. Manali (Himachal Pradesh)
- 8. Tawang (Arunachal Pradesh)
- 9. Shimla (Himachal Pradesh)
- 10. Mussoorie (Uttarakhand)
1. Auli, Uttarakhand
The snow-clad hill station of Auli — nestled at a height of 9,200 feet (2804 meters) above sea level in the Chamoli District of Uttarakhand— is a Himalayan delight. The Garhwali mountains straddle this stretch of the Lower Himalayas.
In the local Garhwali language, the word Auli means a “meadow.”
A great place to see snow in India, Auli is one of Uttarakhand’s most popular tourist destinations and features as the best ski destination in the country. (Other contenders to the title are Gulmarg and Sonamarg — we will cover those later).
Things to do in Auli/ Place to see in Auli
- Auli has just the perfect slopes for beginners as well as expert skiers. Winter sports tournaments like Skiing and Snowboarding are held in Auli from January and March. This period is considered the most important in the Indian Winter Sports calendar.
- A wonderful place to witness snowfall, Auli is located at a distance of 229 miles (370km) from New Delhi, and is relatively easy to get to.
- Other attractions in Auli are Gurson Bugyal (meadow) known for its rich array of flowers; the Narsingh Temple and Badrinath Temples.
- Nature walks in the Auli’s alpine forests and apple orchards as the snow falls gently are also a good way to unwind.
- Snow Season: January to March.
2. Gulmarg (Jammu And Kashmir)
The word Gulmarg in the local Kashmiri language means a “meadow of flowers” —which is literally what Gulmarg is, at a height of 8,690 feet above sea level. This hill station is located in the picturesque Pir Panjal Mountain range in the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
Gulmarg has, what can be arguably described as, the best ski resort and ski facilities in India. This special-purpose ski resort —known as the Khyber Ski Resort— is at par with the best resorts in North America and Europe.
The highest cable car in the world —the “Gulmarg Gondola” gives you excellent views of the Gulmarg region and the snow-clad Pir Panjal mountains that surround it.
If you are into Golf, Gulmarg also has the highest golf course in the world!
Along with Auli, Gulmarg is one of the most important destinations for winter sports in India.
Snow Season: January to March.
3. Pahalgam (Jammu And Kashmir)
The small district of the Anantnag District of Jammu and Kashmir is known as the “Valley of Shepherds.” Its lush green meadows and cattle grazing pastures are perfect for livestock — hence the word, Valley of Shepherds.
Located at a height of 3,900 meters above sea level, the snow-clad region of Pahalgam also features as the camping ground for the Amarnath Caves Yatra (pilgrimage). These Amarnath Caves in Anantnag are considered to be the celestial abode of Lord Shiva and the pilgrimage is considered an important ritual in the Hindu tradition.
Pahalgam is quite the perfect off-beat destination for a snowy holiday in Kashmir. The serene Lidder River winds its way through the valley making for splendid natural views and sights. Its waters teem with trout — that’s a great opportunity for some trout fishing and riverside picnics.
The famous Betaab Valley located nearby (where the Bollywood movie of the same name was shot) is also a tourist attraction.
4.Sonamarg (Jammu And Kashmir)
The word “Sona” means Gold and “Marg” means a meadow in the Kashmiri language. This Meadow of Gold is located in the Ganderbal District of the northern most state of India at a height of 8,960 ft (2,730 meters) above sea level.
Sonamarg —situated only 50 miles (80 km) from the capital city of Srinagar—used to be an important stopover in the famous ancient Silk Road. It connected Kashmir with China.
The Glaciers located in this part of India are the source of the legendary Indus (Sindh) river, from which India gets its earliest civilization (the Indus Valley Civilization) and its old name “Hindustan.”
During the winter months, the valley is covered in layers of snow and is a pure delight to witness.
Things to Do/Places to See in Sonamarg
- Sonamarg is a valley of Lakes. Notable among them are the Gangabal Lake, the Gadsar Lake, the Kirshansar Lake and the Veishansar Lake.
- Sonamarg (along with Pahalgam) is one of the base camps for the Amarnath Yatra.
Ladakh is known as the “Land of High Mountain Passes”.
Previously a part of the state of Kashmir, Ladakh is an independent Union Territory that borders the Tibetan Autonomous Region, and the states of Arunachal Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir. Influences from these regions also spill over in Ladakh, making for ever more cultural immersions.
The Khardung La or Khardung Pass (one of the highest motorable pass in the world) is a great attraction for jeep and offroading adventures. The Changa-La Pass and Umling Pass (Chisumle-Demchok Road) are other destinations popular with adventure jeeping buffs.
So what makes Ladakh so special? So many things.
For starters, the natural landscape. It is a region of tall snowy peaks, serene lakes, pristine rivers and vast cold deserts.
Such a landscape allows for so many things: picnics, sightseeing, laidback holidays, biking tours, jeeping expeditions (to the highest passes in the world), off-roading adventure and a range of other adrenaline rushes.
Snow Season: – December till March
Things to Do in /Places to See in Ladakh
- There is cultural allure in Ladakh as well. Ladakh is steeped in Buddhist spirituality, folklore and heritage. Its capital Leh is a great place to explore such heritage sites as the Shanti Stupa, Leh Palace, Gurudwara Pathar Sahib, Alchi Monastery and the Lamayuru Monastery.
- We highly recommend a visit to the iconic Pangong Lake which is famous for changing its color depending upon the time of the day and season of the year you visit. Apparently, clear bright sunlight reflecting against its clear waters and the surrounding steep hills creates a mesmerizing kind of visual experience.
- The famous Nubra valley in Ladakh is the home of the double-humped Bactrian camels. This Valley of Flowers is famed for its otherworldly beauty.
6. Nainital (Uttarakhand)
Nainital in Uttarakhand is famous for its Naini Lake and other smaller lakes. This part of Uttarakhand is known as the “Land of Mountain Lakes” and also as the “Lake Capital of India.”
Perched in the lap of the Kumaon Hills (sub-branch of the Himalayas), Nainital used to be the summer capital of the United Provinces.
Nainital is an all-year-round destination and is a perfect place to find respite from the intense summer of India. In winter, when the snow covers the lakes and mountains of Nainital, the misty outlook of the landscape is a joy to behold.
Snow Season: November to February.
Things to Do in /Places to See in Nainital
- There is no dearth of attractions in Nainital. Sunset boat rides at the Naini Lake are a great way to spend relaxing evenings in the region.
- The Naintal Snow Cable Car takes you to the Snow View Point from where you get panoramic views of the valley.
- The Mall Road in Nainital is a great place for shopping and spending the evenings with your loved ones.
- If you are fond of hiking, we recommend that you hike up to the Naini Peak, the highest point in the valley.
- There is an ancient temple everywhere you go in Uttarakhand. The premier religious stopover in the Nainital Valley is the Naini Devi Temple dedicated to the local deity.
- The Jim Corbett National Park (the oldest and still one of the finest in the region) is also located not far from Uttarakhand. Realm of the majestic Royal Bengal Tigers, the Corbett is a great place to go on wildlife adventures and safaris.
- Other attractions in the region include the Jama Masjid, the St John in Wilderness Church (British Raj era) and the Yacht Club.
7. Manali (Himachal Pradesh)
Manali is a small village of only 8,000 people in the serene Kullu Valley of Himachal Pradesh..
The Beas River which originates from the Himalayan glacier has sustained this little human settlement for centuries. In recent decades, Manali has emerged as one of the primary hill stations in the state of Himachal Pradesh.
In the summer months, it is thronged by visiting looking to escape the heat and humidity of mainland India. In the winter months, Manali gets covered in snow, providing the perfect getaway for families, lovers and adventure-seeking solo travellers.
There is so much you can do in Manali.
Things to Do in Manali/ Place to See
- For winter and adventure sports enthusiasts, Manali offers a whole range of things. These include skiing, snowboarding, trekking, rappelling and hiking.
- The Vashisht Hot springs in the hamlet of Vashist are believed to have spiritual powers and therapeutic properties. Take some time out for a dip.
- Manali is characterized by its Buddhist heritage and culture. Take time out to go on a Tibetan Monastery trip.
- Driving up to the famous Rohtang Pass, the highest in the state, is quite the trip with views of snow peaks and winding rivers. You can also drive to the famous Solang Valley (a small sub-valley in the Kullu region).
8. Tawang (Arunachal Pradesh)
We now move to the north-eastern stretch of the Himalayas. There are quite a few places to experience snowfall in this part of the country.
The capital of Arunachal Pradesh (located at a height of 3,048 meters above sea level) is another great place for snow-filled adventures.
A slightly off-beat low-key destination, Tawang exuded ancient Buddhist heritage and mystique. This part of Arunachal Pradesh is famous for its monasteries, Buddhist culture, high mountain passes, gorgeous lakes and breathtaking waterfalls.
Note: Please note that you will need what is called an Inner Line Permit (ILP) to visit Tawang. Issued by the Government of Arunachal Pradesh, the ILP can be obtained from New Delhi, Kolkata, Guwahati and Tezpur.
Things to Do/ Places to See in Tawang
- Tawang is a place of spirituality and meditation. We recommend that you visit the Tawang Monastery and spend some time meditating and deep thinking.
- Do not forget to pay your respect at the Tawang War Memorial, erected in memory of slain soldiers in the 1962 Indo-Chinese War.
- A lakeside picnic at the Madhuri Lake (Pangong Tso Lake).
- Witness the serene Nuranang (Jang) Waterfall.
9. Shimla (Himachal Pradesh)
Shimla is to the hill stations of India what Goa is to the beaches of India. Its idyllic sceneries, perfect climate and accessibility from the plains of North India are factors that drove the British Indian government to select it as the country’s Summer Capital.
Shimla radiates colonial charm with its Gothic and Victorian architecture and vast Mall roads and promenade. It is just the perfect place for a laid-back and relaxing holiday with the family. It is one of the most visited all-year-round tourist destinations in India.
Things to do in Shimla/Places to Visit
The Mall Road is a good way to spend your evenings in Shimla. It has quaint cafes, excellent restaurants, historical landmarks, gardens, traditional shops selling handicrafts, and lots of other attractions.
The RIDGE view point is an excellent spot to hike up to get views of the city.
We also recommend a ride in the UNESCO world Heritage Site Kalka-Shimla “Toy Train”.
Visit the Shimla State Museum to explore history of the region.
10. Mussoorie (Uttarakhand)
Affectionately known as the “Queen of Hills” the small but idyllic hill station of Mussoorie is situated in the Garhwal Mountains of the state of Uttarakhand at a height of about 2000 meters above sea level.
Situated only 22 miles from the capital of the state Dehradun, it is an accessible and popular hill station.
The British Government built a cantonment here after defeating the local Gorkha tribes.
You will find Mussoorie very crowded in the hot summer months (April-September). In the peak winter months (December- Feb), however, only those who can brave the snow and sub-zero temperatures can be found here.
It is your ideal getaway to witness snow if you are in the Delhi or Rajasthan region in December or January.
Places to See/Things to Do in Mussoorie
- The Cable Car takes you to the top of the Gun Hill, from where you can get splendid views of Mussoorie.
- Hiking is one of the best things you can do in Mussoorie. We recommend hiking to the Cloud’s End View Point and the Lal Tibba (highest point in Mussoorie).
- The Mall Road in the town centre is a great way to spend leisurely evenings and to dine out.