Exploring India: A surprising skiers paradise
When we think of India what often springs to mind is the majestic white marble mausoleum that is the Taj Mahal, the palm-fringed beaches of Goa or the crowded streets of Mumbai.
However, India is also home to a booming ski industry which is based around the northern states near the Himalayas. Here you can find amazing destinations, such as the Solang Valley and Auli, which provide snowy havens for ski and snowboard enthusiasts alike. From boutique resorts such as Gulmarg to the charming hill station town of Pahalgam, we reveal the top four best places to ski in India.
The Gulmarg Gondola
Gulmarg is famous for having the second highest operating cable car in the world. Located in the Baramla district, this pretty ski resort sits on a plateau some 2,600m above ground. There are several different runs that cater for beginners and seasoned pros, and many of the slopes are deserted. A must-visit is the Kongdori restaurant at the mid-station gondola which serves up delicious and authentic Indian cuisine.
Great view of the second highest cable car in the world. Source khyberhimalayan Instagram.
Solang Nala Valley
This breath-taking valley is perhaps one of the most popular ski spots in India. It's a playground for adventure-seekers, as paragliding, zorbing, skating and snow-based activities can be arranged here throughout the winter months. Accommodation options are plentiful, and you will find ski hire and passes to be extremely reasonable in comparison to European prices, making this an excellent location for students on a gap year trip. Solang Nala is located in Burwa, Himachal Pradesh, and the main resort is open throughout the year.
Thrill seekers can experience paragliding. Source ameenhazeem Instagram
Off-Piste in Pahalgam
Translating to the Valley of the Shepherds, this beautiful area sits by the confluence of two streams. In ski season, snow-lovers flock to the mountainous areas to make use of the slopes. In summer months, the area is popular too, as there are a range of activities on offer, including trekking, climbing and mountain biking. Traditional style ski chalets can be found here; while budget-conscious travellers can book a self-catering apartment.
Lovely sunny day in Pahalgam. Source rishabh_mathur Instagram.
All About Auli
If you're looking for well-maintained slopes and pristine retreats, then Auli could be for you. As the host of the first ever SAF Winter Games in 2011, Auli has gained recognition as one of the best places to ski in India. Slopes range from 2000m to 3000m in length, and there are runs for all skill levels. There is also a ski institute here with experienced instructors who can teach you how to ski or snowboard.
A view of the mountains from Auli. Source vikasmspn Instagram.
The breath-taking scenery in the Western Himalayas, comparatively cheap prices and numerous cultural attractions make these resorts excellent gap year destinations. Remember to book your flight to India in advance to get the best prices. The best time to arrive is between December and March when the snow is at its thickest; however, some resorts have an extended ski season. Wherever you choose to ski in India, you will be sure to have a magical and memorable getaway.