It’s that time of the year when the Himalayas are at their majestic best. Fresh snowfall will soon cover the glorious peaks and the white slopes will glisten in bright sunshine. By Karan Kaushik
Uttarakhand’s Auli is all set to host the National Skiing Championship in February and skiing enthusiasts from across India will be participating. Skiing has had a glorious history in the country and continues to lure in adventure lovers every year.
The winter sport was first started in India by the British, who established ski resorts in Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir. In 1927, two British Army officers are said to have established the Ski Club of India in Gulmarg. Since then, skiing has been a staple for adventure lovers in India.
Check out these mesmerising skiing destinations in India
This Garhwali hamlet has garnered fame as the skiing capital of India and rightly so. Come January and the mountainous slopes of Auli will be splendidly covered by a thick blanket of snow. Surrounded by verdant coniferous forests and oak trees, Auli offers the perfect setting for skiing.
With the support of the state government, the locals of Auli have been successful in building a great skiing ecosystem in the hill station. Auli is great for both beginners and experts.
While experts push their limits every time they embark on a skiing adventure here, beginners can enrol themselves in skiing courses run by the myriad skiing agencies that Auli is home to.
One of the highest ski resorts in the world, Gulmarg gives skiing enthusiasts an opportunity to ski on the sun-kissed snowy slopes of the Apharwat peak. The peak is said to be Asia’s longest ski slope.
There are two phases that can be accessed by the famous Gandola cable cart. Essential skiing services such as avalanche mitigation and rescue services are easily available. You don’t even need to worry about the equipment and everything.
There are government authorised rental shops, where you’ll get it all. Kids can try snowboarding and sledging. What is fascinating about Gulmarg is that you could also ski at night.
There are a few places in India that are equally loved by every tourist. Solang Valley, a haven for lovers of adventure sports is one of them. The valley turns into a skiing paradise during winters and invites professional and amateur skiers from across the country.
You’ll have to take a gondola or ski lift to reach the base perched at an altitude of 9,508 ft above sea level. Once there, you can ski up to two km. There are several ski and snowboarding schools here, which will make sure that you have a safe experience.
When here, you can also enjoy zorbing, paragliding, quad biking, and more.
Kufri is where you could give a kickstart to your skiing life, thanks to the gentle slopes that dot its landscape. No wonder it’s famed as the winter sports capital of Shimla. The ski slopes of Kufri are suitable for both beginners and experienced people.
Head out to Mahsu ridge for the most thrilling skiing experience in Kufri. Here, you can also try heliskiing, which involves boarding a helicopter to reach remote terrains.
The best time to be in Kufri for your skiing adventures is from late December to early February when the snow cover is at its thickest.
The lesser-explored Yumthang valley is a young skiing destination in comparison to its counterparts. Its naturally easy slopes make it a perfect skiing hotspot for novices.
It was in 2011 that the state government planned to develop Yumthang as a skiing destination, following heavy snowfall in January. It is advisable to get in touch with skiing agencies and confirm before planning a trip to Yumthang, especially for skiing.
Once you get your share of adrenaline rush by skiing the majestic slopes of Yumthang, you could also embark on rewarding treks or go mountain biking.
Narkanda’s skiing history goes back to 1980, and the picturesque hill station has attracted many a ski enthusiast ever since.
There’s a dedicated skiing ground here, where the Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (HPTDC) organises elementary alpine skiing courses during peak winters. The most popular peak among skiers is the Hatu Peak, situated at an altitude of 3400m. Another preferred place is Dhumri, which doubles up as a cricket stadium during summers.
Equipment and other skiing essentials are readily available. The instructors here are some of the best skiers in the country, which makes it the go-to destination for beginners.
Home to the renowned Jawahar Institute of Mountaineering and Winter Sports, Pahalgam ranks high on the skiing front.
Located at a short distance from Pahalgam, Aru is where you’ll be experiencing the thrill of tumbling and manoeuvring through fresh snow. Aru, we’d say, is the quieter sibling of Gulmarg when it comes to skiing.
Located at an altitude of 9,000m, Aru is truly blessed with abundant natural beauty. You’ll find trained instructors at the skiing site, who’ll guide you at every step. Aru also hosts a two-day snow festival, where locals and tourists enjoy winter sports.