As the year comes to a bittersweet end, commemorate those precious moments by taking a trip with your loved ones. Bid adieu to the current version of yourself by welcoming a new you, one that travels more! Waltz into the new year by exploring some of the best corners of our country. Whether it’s the glint of the northern snow, glimmer of the coastal sun or sheen of the desert moon, experience the wonders of India’s multi-sensorial destinations with your family and friends. Thomas Cook has put together a list of 15 winter worthy spots that will have you ooh-ing and aaah-ing all through Christmas and well into the new year!
Here’s a summary of what you can expect from each place:
Rishikesh, Uttarakhand – Yoga, Ayurvedic Therapies, River Rafting
Auli, Uttarakhand – Skiing Bliss
Blanketed in pearly white snow, during the marvellous season of winter, Auli is a gorgeous hill station that offers an exceptional international skiing experience to those who have an appetite for adventure sports. Why go overseas when this splendid destination offers you the chance to partake in the same recreational sports? Yes, the landscape is simply perfect for skiing, sledging, snowboarding and tobogganing. What’s more, you can even ride Asia’s longest cable car and marvel at the magnificent views of the Himalayas. Why not chase the sun as it melts into the mountains? Auli most definitely tops the list of places to visit in India in winter!
Kasol is a delightful little village ensconced in Parvati Valley, on the banks of the gurgling Parvati River. Sensuous in natural beauty, it serves as a playground for backpackers, trekkers and nature enthusiasts alike. Touted as one of the most stunning destinations in the world, the region attracts tourists from the world over. During December, the landscapes shapeshift into a winter wonderland. Snowflakes fall, carpeting the land and frosting the terrains. This is a wonderful time for photographers to capture cliffs and tree crowns, proudly wearing veils of mist. This season offers delicious peace and serenity, enabling individuals to get away from the hullaballoo of city life.
Deemed as the ‘Gem of Uttarakhand’, Nainital is a heavenly hill station that is blessed with plentiful lakes and inexhaustible natural beauty. It is named after the Naini Lake, which is the epicentre of the town’s popularity and charm. The climate here is pleasant through the year, but most magical as winter sets in. Individuals can enjoy boat rides on the beautiful Naini Lake, shop at the colourful Tibetan Market, get a taste of the steaming local delicacies and stroll along vivacious Mall Road. One more point of admiration is the sight of the snow-clad Himalayan peaks from Snow View Point. It is quite spellbinding! Nainital will surely leave an imprint on your heart that will last long after you’ve left.
Gulmarg and Sonamarg, Jammu and Kashmir- Heaven on Earth
Gulmarg is blessed with a bold and breath-taking wilderness, minus the large crowds that are so synonymous with destinations like Manali and Shimla. Although spectacular through the year, the season of winter has its own special charm. During blizzards, the entire town is obscured by snow and the beautifully characterised open space is skied down. Apart from quintessential adventure sports, one can witness the exquisite panoramic views from the summit. What better place to spend your winter vacation? Yet another frosty paradise is Sonamarg, which is just a couple of hours from Gulmarg. Here, a snow carpet will welcome you royally. We’d encourage you to build snow men, snow angels and frolic about the place with glistening glee!
Great Rann of Kutch, Gujarat- Jewel of Gujarat
This December, why not visit the vast and arid expanse that is The Great Rann of Kutch? A wide and far reaching desert of glittering white salt, its natural properties create an alluring and surreal sight. There are so many spectacular settings to take in, including molten sunsets and the crystal-clear full moon. Globetrotters can even take a hot air balloon ride, from which the astonishing beauty of the Rann can be witnessed. The Rann Festival begins in winter, with numerous camps set up for visitors, including a plethora of luxurious amenities. Various artistic programs are carried out, depicting the culture of Gujarat, making the Great Rann of Kutch an attraction that is worth visiting!
Kohima is named after a wild flowering plant called Kewhi, which is found in the frills of the mountains. Situated in North East India, its gentle pace of life attracts throngs of travellers who wish to retreat to a serene and picturesque place. Its unique culture; including distinct tribes, rare artefacts, colourful clothing and clan motifs, are things that one should definitely witness in a lifetime. The main tourist attraction, however, comes during winter! The hornbill festival plays host to a weeklong brew of cultural events – craft bazaar, floral galleria, motor sports, food stalls, film festivals, music, fashion, cycling and a series of competitions in various activities. It takes place from the 1st to the 10th of December, so don’t miss out on this one!
Being the capital of the royal state of Rajasthan, Jaipur is a vibrant blend of the old and the new. The intricate city is fenced by walls and gates, adorned with drawings, framed by the backdrop of a beautiful pink hue. Monumental palaces, tales of heroic battles and blazing forts are just some of the profusion of offerings by this bejewelled city. And, what better time to experience all of this than during the enchanting winter season? Yes, with a delicious nip in the air and a lovely breezy environment, one can escape the wrath of the scorching heat that is so prevalent in Rajasthan. Watch the monuments light up during the Christmas and New Year season, setting the region aglow with soft gold!
When someone says beach, the first things that comes to mind is the palm fringed shores of Goa! Yes, it is indeed India’s most beloved sea destination. But Goa is much more than mere fun in the sun, it it a portal into history, culture and spirituality. Colonial churches, quaint Portuguese bungalows, charming boutiques and flea markets make up a potpourri of offerings. During December, the region bustles with celebration. From food and music festivals, to traditional carnivals, Christmas fairs and electric New Year’s Eve festivities, there are endless avenues of thrills. Goa’s rich heritage, eclectic nightlife and hearty culinary scene attracts tourists from all over the world, especially during the wintry months!
Munnar, Kerala – The Tea Tree Town
The rolling and tumbling hills of Munnar are gift wrapped in emerald green tea plantations, as far as the eye can see. Kerala’s own slice of paradise, this hill station lures travellers to its aromatic and spicy lands. During winter, the atmosphere is cloaked in a mystical fog and the air sings to notes of chill. Individuals can explore the many pastures, observe the fascinating tea making process and even taste the delicious cuppa itself! There’s nothing quite like navigating a green town when the ambience is so crisp and fresh. The dazzling climate and incomparable beauty makes Munnar one of the most popular towns for newlyweds.
Mount Abu, Rajasthan – Beautiful Climb
The solo hill station of Rajasthan, Mount Abu stands tall and proud in the majestic Aravalli Range. One can enjoy its post-card worthy panoramic beauty and peaceful atmosphere during the wonderful winter season. The cool cucumber air and magical jade surroundings make this a vital tourist spot in India. Here, stands one of the most stunning pieces of architecture in the country – The Dilwara Temple. Built centuries ago, the craftsmanship is still absolutely mesmerising. Those who are planning to go with their better halves can enjoy the romance of the weather, with the views of Honeymoon Point and Sunset Point to keep them company.
Mahabaleshwar, Maharashtra – Land Of Strawberries, Amongst Must Visit Places to Visit in India in Winter
Huddled in the hills of the Western Ghats range, Mahabaleshwar is known for its fairy-tale landscapes and of course, juicy red strawberries! Maharashtra’s most popular hill station, for good reason too, this dreamy hamlet is a great place to end the year in. As winter sets in, the region transforms into a place fit for fables – charming and ethereal. Wisps of mist swivel in the air, contributing to an aura of enchantment. Lakes, waterfalls, forests and valleys shine with beauty. One can go boating, horse riding and even fruit picking. It doesn’t really matter who you travel with, Mahabaleshwar is a destination for one to enjoy the chills, over a bowl of sweet hot corn.
Wholly untouched hills and absolutely mesmerising sunrises make Darjeeling one of the most famous hill station’s in the Eastern part of India. Its cruising slopes are covered with aromatic Tea Tree plantations, of which you can pluck and brew its most famous blend yourself. The locals are warm and friendly, which makes the entire travel experience even more enriching. During the winter, awe-inspiring sceneries and scintillating weather contribute to a backdrop of delightful vacationing. From biking to trekking and picnicking, there’s a lot to experience. December is a month to cherish, with a cup of divine tea in hand. So, remove the dust off your luggage and pack for a trip to Darjeeling! Surely, no other place will welcome you with such open arms!
If building tall snowmen and wide ice angels are your thing, then Dharamshala is the perfect destination to visit during the icy crystalline months! The winter capital of Himachal Pradesh experiences snowfall in the month of December, brushing the plains with shiny white paint. The residence of Dalai Lama and the Central Tibetan Administration are both located in this profound destination. As it is blessed with ravishing scenery and culture, it is a must visit place for wayfarers and intellectuals alike. The infinite list of things to do in Dharamsala keeps travellers both, engaged and enchanted. For adventure enthusiasts, Dharamshala offers a mountain of adventure in the form of trekking, camping, paragliding and rafting.
Shillong, Meghalaya – Scotland Of The East
Shillong, the capital of Meghalaya, is a beguiling city that floats on a bed of clouds. The hill station is famous for its bewitching sights and individualistic traditions. Winter castes a spell on the region, deeming it a lovely spot to traverse in December. Home to cascading waterfalls, spearing mountain peaks, mysterious caves, glassy lakes and deep canyons, there’s a lot to take in. Framed by handsome pine trees, the hill station is an oasis of nature and nurture. What sets it apart is its soulful music scene, reflected in numerous festivals. In fact, many great artists have called this lovely destination their home. So, head on over to the best winter gala there is.
Rishikesh, Uttarakhand – Yoga Hub
Rishikesh is a destination for the mind, body and soul. Situated in the foothills of Himalayan mountain ranges, on the banks of the sacred Ganges River, it makes for an epicentre of relaxation and rejuvenation. Although blessed with a pleasant climate throughout the year, winters are particularly exceptional! The temperature drops to about 8 degrees and it poses as the perfect time to enjoy the fine beauty of the city. On one hand, visitors can enjoy thrills like white river rafting, bungee jumping and parasailing, while on the other, people can indulge in yoga and ayurvedic therapies for their peace of mind. So, jet set to Rishikesh this winter and enjoy the tranquillity of nature’s jewel.
Are you astonished? Stunned? Thrilled? Or is it a mix of them all? If this list does not give you the adrenaline rush to go and start packing your bags, then what does? Select from Thomas Cook’s packages to travel to one or more of these cities!