If you thought you’d need a passport and some Euros to go skiing, here’s a pleasant surprise:
1. Solang Valley
This resort is small, with just a 500-metre vertical drop, which might not set a sport-junkie’s heart racing. However, the convenience of a ski-lift, the perfect powder snow, and the availability of friendly instructors makes this the ideal spot for the day-skier who is vacationing in Manali, just 12km away. At the bottom of the valley is a gentle baby-slope for beginners, while the experienced skiers are just a button-call away from the top of the main run. So why not include trekking in Manali as a part of your vacation schedule.
Jammu & Kashmir
International skiers and snow-boarders now add Gulmarg to their list of destinations to brag about, and it is easy to see why. Gulmarg gets consistently heavy snowfall that ensures the best powder. It has over two kilometres of vertical descent through wide conifer-dotted bowls, back-country and hairy off-piste runs, all grades of slopes, convenient ski-lifts, and at the very top, a breathtaking view of Nanga Parbat, the ninth tallest peak in the world. This is for everyone, from the first-timer to the veteran. Know more about this unique skiing trip here as it will be of added benefit to people who wish to make a mark in the world of skiing.
Just 12km from Manali, this is where the skiing initiative started off in India, probably because of the versatility of the area. There are slopes for every age and fitness level, and the topography lends itself to two-kilometre vertical runs as well as excellent cross-country skiing. The Institute of Mountaineering and Allied Sport has certified instructors that can take you from wobbly-kneed newbie to fearless adventurer in a rigorous seven-day programme, equipment included. You can check out these Narkanda hotels that help you have a comfortable stay during your skiing expedition.
This is an old favourite from a time when skiing in India was in its infancy. Today, it has spruced itself up to retain the top slot as a legit destination. The gradient is perfect: a three-kilometre run over a 500metre drop, and cross-country runs of 10-20km are on offer. The slopes are vast, and there is never a sense of criss-crossing and overcrowding. The instructors are top-notch, as is the equipment, and beginners can avail of seven- and 14-day courses.
One more gem in the Garwhal crown of ski-slopes, this one calls out to the experienced skier to come and pound its powder. There are baby-slopes for the beginner as well, supervised by qualified instructors, and intermediate skiers have choices of all gradients to hone their skills, but it’s the veterans who will have the most fun. Cross-country skiers can stop for a culture/history break at the Lakha Mandal Temple replete with beautiful sculptures and inscriptions.
6. Phuni Valley
As part of a recent initiative to utilise the mysterious Eastern Himalayas for snow-activities, this resort is the baby of India’s skiing family. The instructors are fresh out of teaching schools in Himachal, ready to make Sikkim the snow-adventure capital of the North-East. Remote, relatively untouched and ethereally beautiful, the powdery slopes of the Eastern Himalayas provide stellar topography for all levels of skiers, although the infrastructure around it is still growing.
7. Dayara Bugyal
The name means ‘high-altitude meadow’, and it is covered in the finest powder from December to earlyMarch. This ‘meadow’ spans 28 sq km and the topography is a glorious mix of heart-pounding runs and gentle cross-country gradients. Its unique location also makes for one of the most jaw-dropping vistas anywhere in the lower Himalayas. Accommodation is rustic, and home-stays are preferred by skitourists. Equipment and instructors are available.
There is Manali on one side and the mystical kingdom of Leh on the other, separated by the formidable, gargantuan slopes of the Rohtang Pass. Fraught with unpredictable weather (sudden, savage storms) these slopes are not for the faint of heart, but if you’ve been skiing ever since you could stand, the Sonapani Glacier at Rohtang will be a feather of pride in your cap. A tad expensive, as the only way up is by chopper, this is high-adrenaline adventure from the get-go. Check out multiple options of trekking in Manali here and book in advance not to miss out your golden opportunity.
Skiing may seem like a simple affair, but it demands high levels of fitness and agility. If you’re planning a ski trip, it’s best to get yourself into a workout routine before your trip.