Like clockwork, when the warm season slowly fades out to fulfil the promise of snow underfoot in the hilly regions, skiing unquestionably becomes one of the top adventure sporting activities that take up space in travel itineraries. Snowfall begins frequently descending on the Himalayas and places like Jammu, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand, bringing with it the finest scenery, quaint market towns and obviously the best layer of snow to sand and surf. “Considering the popular hotspots spread across the country, the best time to ski ranges between mid-December to mid-March. Some destinations like Gulmarg enjoy an extended timeline where the season usually commences just before Christmas and continues till early April,” says Irshad Ahmad Sheikh, a certified skier and snowboarding expert. The places around Manali are also expecting high snowfall compared to 2022 which is increasing the probability of a busy ski season. “We are already expecting a swarm of visitors for skiing since there’s a high chance of receiving heavy snowfall, making it a peak chance for people to try out the sport,” Parekh P., ski instructor based in Kullu.
From a leisure ski trip to the ‘Snow Valley’ of the country to turning on the thrill in Auli as you slide down winding routes of oak and coniferous forests, these expeditions are the piste de résistance(s) for ski travel.
Cradled by snow-capped mountains and dense forestation—approximately 13 km by road from Joshimata, the closest town in the region—Auli offers some of the most recommended slopes in the country for beginner and expert skiers against the backdrop of the glistening Nanda Devi range. At a height of 11,000 feet, the woody slopes are highly rated nationally as well and hosted competitions like the National Alpine Skiing Contest in 2019 and the National Skiing Competition in 2023. The prices are affordable with standing and sitting lift for pole shift costing ₹100 and ₹300 respectively.
Gulmarg, Jammu & Kashmir
Rated Asia’s 5th best ski destination, Gulmarg is located at an altitude of approximately 8,600 feet in the Pir Panjal range of the Western Himalayas, making it a top choice for off-piste and backcountry skiing. Its Apharwat peak (4390m) also owns the title of the longest ski slope in Asia. The mountain range is split into two phases, Phase I (connecting Gulmarg to Kungdori) and Phase II (connecting Kungdori to the Apharwat peak) both of which can be reached by gondola for Rs. 800 for a two-way journey. There are also government equipment rental shops from where you can loan out ski gear for approximately 800 per day.
Solang Valley, Himachal Pradesh
Solang Valley is rising fast on Indian and International skier’s radar, with the destination being one of three (other two are Auli and Gulmarg) recognised sites for competitive skiing in India. Located at a distance of 13 km north of Manali, beginners can explore the t-bar at the base area for practice runs or get a crash-course at a nearby ski school. It is worth splurging at a ski resort with close proximity to the slopes and taking restful detours to admire Mount Ladakh in-between skiing runs.
Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh
With reliable snowfall and an underrated status (which is slowly changing), Tawang’s Panga Teng Tso lake double up to act like a skiing hotspot where the sport is relatively new. While the destination keep receiving variable amounts of snowfall throughout the year, in December it receives heavy a good amount of precipitation. Catering to all, beginner to intermediate to advanced skiers, you can experience a laid-back, less-crowded skiing experience at a thrilling height of 10,000 feet above sea level.
Rohtang Pass, Himachal Pradesh
Rohtang Pass offers a once-in-a-lifetime helisking experience, and miles of well-groomed slopes, glacial peaks—all of which are within easy reach of Manali, Laul and Spiti. Hop on the chopper that will fly you to a height of 14,000 before dropping you off to zoom through slopes at an exciting speed. Some of the runs can last longer than 3 kilometers and as this sport requires fluffy or granular snow, Rohtang Pass serves as an ideal spot alongside nearby locations like Hanuman Tibba, Deo Tibba and Chandrakhani Pass.