The snow-topped mountains of Northern India offer all the ingredients of an inexpensive skiing experience. India, being a tropical destination, has very harsh summers, as a result, people clamor to escape to the cooler climes at any given opportunity. Even though skiing is only gradually gaining in popularity, there are several spots where you can strap on your ski boots and glide down the slopes for an outdoor adventure of a lifetime. Here are seven affordable world-class skiing destinations in India where you can enjoy this activity in 2021.
Narkanda, Himachal Pradesh
Base town: Shimla
This well-known ski resort is located in Narkanda on the road connecting India with Tibet. The Himachal Mountaineering Institute here offers ski training by professionals. The slopes of Hatu Peak here are ideal for beginners and active skiers alike and are comparatively easy to access compared to other skiing destinations. Even though Narkanda is an old ski destination, one can ski here crowd-free at an extremely affordable price of roughly Rs 2000 per hour, including the cost of a ski-instructor.
Base town: Joshimath
The powder-filled slopes of Auli are rated on par with the best in Europe by skiing experts. The picturesque destination offers stunning views of the prominent Himalayan peaks including Nilkanth and Dunagiri. The slopes are connected by a 4.15 km gondola ride from the town of Joshimath, some 16km away. Highly trained professionals are available in Auli to impart the skill to newcomers. All-inclusive skiing packages are available for a three to six-day period for as little as Rs20,000 and up, depending on the length of stay. There are four ski slopes in Auli totaling 7km, but the best one is the 3km long downhill track. Three ski lifts are in operation here for the benefit of the skiers.
Solang Valley, Himachal Pradesh
Base town: Manali
The undulating snow-covered slopes of Solang Valley in Himachal Pradesh provide the right terrain for professionals and novices to hone their skills in the wonderful sport of skiing. The valley lies 14km to the northwest of the main tourist hub of Manali and is easily accessible by both public and private transport. Certified trainers are available to educate skiers on every aspect of the sport. The state-of-the-art ropeway to Mount Patru has attachments to facilitate skiers and their equipment to the top station from where there is a vertical drop of 500m to the base. Costs vary from as little as Rs 550 to a couple of thousands depending on the program chosen. The total length of the slopes here is 28km. A ski package for amateurs costs around Rs 8400 per person between the months of December and February.
Apharwat Peak, Gulmarg, Kashmir
Base town: Baramulla
The ski resort of Gulmarg offers the same kind of service as any other world-class resort. Even though most of the activities are off-piste, safety measures are in place for an incredible skiing experience. There is no avalanche mitigation and the terrain is fantastic. For a reasonable price, you get a nice warm room, good food, and training with a guide with years of experience. Skiing and other winter sports are carried on the slopes of the Apharwat Peak, accessible by a two-stage gondola from Gulmarg(2650m) via Kongdoori. The lifts here serve 1330 vertical meters of snowy terrain. Heli-skiing is another activity on offer here, which is ideal for off-piste and backcountry skiing. Please note Gulmarg is not recommended for beginners. To make the most of your ski holiday, add some generic tours in Kashmir to your itinerary as well. Use reputed sites like – www.ekashmirtourism.com to book Kashmir tour packages and enjoy a stress-free holiday.
Khardungla Range, Ladakh
Base town: Leh
One of the most enjoyable activities in Ladakh is skiing on the high slopes of the Khardungla mountain range. Since snow is abundant in this region, the sport has gained popularity over the years. Khardungla Pass also happens to be the world’s highest motorable road. That said, this trip is difficult and only for fit and advanced skiers. This well-rounded Himalayan experience has plenty of gracious terrain in the culturally rich Indus valley and the stunning Khardungla Range. The distance from Leh town is just 40km. In fact, one can easily combine the Ladakh ski trip with another great destination Gulmarg. This two-day 469 km journey from Leh passes through Nubra Valley and Pangong Lake before culminating at Gulmarg.
Phuni Valley, Sikkim
Base town: Lachung
Phoenix Valley may be a lesser-known skiing destination, but what it lacks in popularity is more than made up by some of the best slopes in the stunning Lachung region of Sikkim. The valley is indeed a mecca for those skiing enthusiasts who wish to ski in a crowd-free environment which is not the case with other major ski centers of the country. During the winter months, the valley gets a healthy snow cover, which makes skiing conditions ideal for all levels of skiers. Phone lies 150 km from the capital Gangtok, and the Sikkim Mountaineering Association (SMA) plays a vital role in introducing this sport at the grass-roots level to the locals as well as visitors from outside the state.
Dayara Bugyal, Uttrakhand
Base town: Uttarkashi
Bugyal translates in English to a high altitude meadow and this picturesque destination is perched high up in the Uttarakhand Himalayas. Dayara Bugyal can be accessed without any difficulty from the town of Uttarkashi, which itself is situated at a distance of 28km. However, the last 9km can be covered only by a trek from the village of Barsu, where the actual slopes are located. Once there, the magnificent slopes will take your breath away. Skiing here against the backdrop of the mighty Himalayas is an experience to cherish for the rest of our lives. Even though the basic infrastructure of ski-lifts and chairs is missing, Dayara Bugyal has its fair share of admirers. Camping is the only mode of accommodation available here and a four day package with meals, stay and skiing can be booked for Rs 9500/-.