DrasLet’s start here. It’s the coldest place in India. Period. In fact, it is the third-coldest inhabited region in the world after Antarctica and northern Russia. Located 60km from Kargil, Dras regularly records temperatures of -40 degrees during winter. If that’s not cold, we don’t know what is! The Dards and Balti people call this region home and if you do visit Dras, you will find some of the most hospitable people living peacefully in what has to be nature’s most inhospitably cold place. Just pack ALL your woolens and then some! #Brrr
LehAnother touristy place that witnesses a bone-chilling during winter, Leh is actually a cold desert. During winter, temperatures regularly drop below zero and the place sees regular tourists during these months. From the famed Chadar trek to the frozen Pangong lake, the attractions are varied for those who dare to venture to Leh during winter season. Wildlife enthusiasts can spot rare flora and fauna and culture lovers can take part in various local festivities. This is also the time to indulge in deep meaningful conversations with the locals who relax after the touristy summer. Say Julley, order a cup of tea and get going.
KeylongLocated in the remote district of Spiti, Keylong is cut off from the rest of the country during winter season. If you want to get away from your regular life, this is a highly recommended option. Learning how locals survive from November to April is an exercise in patience and co-existence that no guru can teach. Besides, the freezing temperatures offer stunning views of the remote Spiti Valley with its barren peaks and imposing monasteries. This is a trip for the adventurous.
GangtokIt was a strict no-no earlier, but the charms of winter season in Gangtok can no longer be kept hidden from the world. From the Yuksom region in west Sikkim to far-off Gurdongmar Lake and even Changu Lake, Gangtok is a must-visit if you want to get off the beaten track. Definitely visit places like Nathu La and Rumtek Monastery. Darjeeling and Kalimpong aren’t too far either.
MussoorieWinters in Mussoorie used to be a locals-only affair until recently. Now, tourists throng Mussoorie and its environs in sub-zero temperatures to enjoy the former British retreat. Stroll the famous Mall area and jump into cheap eateries when the mood strikes. Snow-filled mountains and valleys are just a short drive away during the winter, promising complete entertainment to you and your family.
McLeodganjA centre for Buddhism activities in the capital during the winter, this a suburb of Dharamshala, the home of the Dalai Lama. Visit the town in the winter to get a better feel for the place, especially since it’s the off season. It’s a great place to find cheap thukpa, momos and chowmein; strike friendships with the locals, they will call you over and share their incredible stories. When you go, don’t miss the Dharamsala cricket stadium nearby, also take a hike to Dharamkot and it’s famous Maggi Point.
AmritsarThe chill that rolls down to the plains of Punjab is as cold as that in the mountains. Nowhere can you feel this more than in Amritsar, where you can see the Golden Temple wrapped in early morning mist as devotees pray in near-freezing waters. During the day, explore local villages nearby or go on a food tour to sample authentic Punjabi fare.
TawangGet your Inner Line Permit sorted and head for adventure to one of the eastern-most regions of the country. During winter, the Tawang Monastery, one of the biggest Buddhist monasteries in India, will charm you. The famous War Memorial, and the light-and-sound show presented by the Indian Army, are things you should not miss. At night, cuddle up with your favourite drink that comes extra cheap as it is a tax-free item.
MunnarWe get it. Some of us just aren’t mountain people. Despite the tempting views and cold weather that mountains afford, sometimes it’s better to just run off to a hill station. We highly recommend visiting Munnar during the winter season, when temperatures regularly run below 10 degrees and the mist-kissed tea gardens look more inviting than ever before. If nothing catches your fancy, just walk in the clouds and come back refreshed!
JaisalmerThe thing about deserts is that they can get as cold during the winter as they are hot during summers. This makes Jaisalmer the perfect destination to cover during winter if you’re interested in sleeping under the stars and waking up to sand dunes around you. To arrive in style, consider booking the uber-luxurious Palace on Wheels train. You can also opt for a two-week camel journey from Bikaner to Jaisalmer to truly get off the beaten track.
-Like this article? Also read: 10 Must-visit Places Along India’s Longest Rail Route Images Courtesy: Shutterstock.com