There are plenty of places in India that offer a different vacation experience in every season. Here are our picks of the best places to visit in India during the winter:
Things to do: Take a beautiful Ride a shikara on Dal Lake, ski and gondola ride in Gulmarg.
While Kashmir is spectacular at all times, visiting in the winter months lets you enjoy the snow and winter-related outdoor activities.
Whether you want to try your hand at skiing on the slopes or prefer to enjoy the views from a gondola, Gulmarg is the destination to head to. Do not miss out on a snowball fight with the family. A trip to the Dal Lake is also an unmissable part of any Kashmir visit. The Mughal Gardens in Srinagar is another attraction where you can feast your eyes on the region’s beauty.
Kashmir Fact File:
- Location: In northern India, mostly in the Himalayas.
- How to Reach: Srinagar airport has daily flights from Delhi and other cities. Private and state buses connect the state to nearby places. Jammu Tawi Railway Station is the nearest railhead.
- Food & Drink: Must-try dishes of the Kashmiri cuisine include Qabargaah, Shab Deg, and Rogan Josh. Noon chai is a popular tea in the state.
Things to do: Skiing
Known for being among the top ski destinations in the country, Auli in Uttarakhand is the perfect place for a memorable winter vacation. Kids and adults alike will enjoy learning the ropes of skiing from professional instructors. In fact, if you wish you can also attend the annual National Championship of Skiing, held in Auli every January.
December in Auli also means snow-clad peaks like the Mana Parbat and Neelkanth, providing soothing scenic views for travellers who just want to enjoy breath-taking mountain scenery with a steaming cuppa. The region also wears a festive look around Christmas. Spend some time at the Auli artificial lake. It not only makes a pretty sight, but is also an excellent backdrop for clicking vacation pictures.
Uttarakhand Fact File
- Location: In northern India, bordering Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Tibet, and Nepal.
- How to Reach: Air connectivity available to Dehradun’s Jolly Grant Airport and Pantnagar Airport close to Nainital. There is good rail connectivity to places within Uttarakhand and other cities in India. Buses are available to Auli from different places.
- Food & Drink: Mostly cooked over wood or charcoal, Uttarakhand’s popular dishes include chapatis, kafuli, dubuk, and Garhwal ka fannah. Jhangor ki kheer is the dessert to try.
Things to do: Attend the Konark Dance Festival, visit the Sun Temple and beach.
The mere mention of Konark brings the stunning Sun Temple to mind. This is no doubt a must-visit attraction not only for history and architecture lovers but for all travellers and there is a lot more to enjoy in this Odisha town. If you are travelling in December, add the Konark Dance Festival to your itinerary.
This is not your average dance performance in an air-conditioned auditorium. There are live performances by participants from all over the country, performed to the decked-up backdrop of the Sun Temple. The sound of ghungroos and musical instruments and the magnificent view is a true feast for the senses.
Spending time at the pristine Konark Beach with its golden sands is the perfect way to wind up a visit to this fascinating little town.
Odisha Fact File:
- Location: India’s eastern coast, bordering West Bengal.
- How to Reach: Bhubaneshwar’s Biju Patnaik Airport has regular flights from many Indian cities; the city is also well-connected by rail. A good road network connects Konark and other parts of Odisha to major Indian cities.
- Food & Drink: Rice is a staple; Pakhala, a dish made from soaked cooked rice, is popular. Pahala Rasgulla and Chhena Poda are must-try sweet dishes.
Things to do: Visit the Umngot River, explore Shillong and Cherrapunjee
Starting from the Umiam Lake and Elephant Falls to charming churches and a vibrant music scene, this north-eastern state has it all. Cherrapunjee’s Mawsmai Cave and Nohkalikai Falls are some of the top attractions in one of the wettest places on earth.
But the Umngot River deserves special mention. Something of a hidden gem of the region, this river is known for having water so clear that a person on a boat can see right to the river bed.
For a truly unique experience, go for a hike on the Double Decker Living Root Bridge – a natural wonder. When not exploring the mesmerizing outdoors, you can tuck into Khasi delights in Shillong, watch a football game in progress, or simply soak in the sights from one of the many cafés.
Meghalaya Fact File:
- Location: Close to Assam, Meghalaya is also bounded by Bangladesh. The capital city of Shillong lies 100kms away from Guwahati.
- How to Reach: You can take a flight to Guwahati and travel to Meghalaya by road. A helicopter service from Guwahati to Shillong is also available. Guwahati also has good road connectivity to Meghalaya.
- Food & Drink: Non-vegetarian, with spicy meat and vegetables. Pumaloi (a rice dish) and Jadoh (pork and rice) are local favourites.
Things to do: Visit forts and museums, shop in Jaisalmer, try Rajasthani cuisine.
If you have always wanted to explore Rajasthan but the idea of travelling in the heat has kept you from doing so, plan a trip during the winter to experience the charm of the land without having to deal with the blistering desert heat.
Riding the sand dunes on camel-back is a quintessential Rajasthan experience, as is visiting its famous forts and palaces, most of which have now been turned into hotels. The Amber Fort, Udaipur’s Lake Palace, and the Mehrangarh Fort will please architecture and history enthusiasts. Set some time aside for Mount Abu, the state’s only hill station.
November is when the famous Pushkar ka Mela takes place, which offers a fascinating insight into local trade and culture. If you are travelling with children, do watch a puppet show while in Rajasthan.
Rajasthan Fact File:
- Location: In India’s western part, bordering Pakistan.
- How to Reach: Jaipur, Jodhpur, and Udaipur have domestic airports; and a good railway network. Bus services are available from several neighbouring states.
- Food & Drink: Mostly vegetarian; dishes to taste are Dal-Baati-Churma, kachori, mawa, and ghevar.
Also see: Packing for Europe in Winter