Very little can match the breathtaking views of the snow-capped Himalayas. With some of the highest peaks in the world, it has been a favoured destination, especially for adventure junkies who visit here to indulge in skiing, which is getting popular with each passing season.
So for those who desire the adrenalin rush that comes from speed and such heights there are a few places that must be tried this winter.
Jammu Kashmir, the hills of Kumaon and Himachal Pradesh are some of the destinations frequented annually by skiing enthusiasts. The height of the peaks coupled with dense snow makes this sport an ultra-exciting experience.
Here we explore the slopes of Auli and Gulmarg, easily two of the country’s best ski destinations.
All for Auli Location :
Nearest railhead is Raiwala near Rishikesh (250 km approx); from here one can take a bus/tourist car early morning to reach Joshimath/Auli.
Nearest airport is Dehra Dun (300 km approx).
If you reach Joshimath by 4 pm a ropeway chair can take you to Auli.
Road to Auli is closed after dusk
Best Time To Visit: November to March
Altitude: 3049 mt
Location: 56 km From Srinagar
Best Time To Visit: November to March
Altitude: 2743 mt
Rolling meadows The valley of Gulmarg, located 56 km away from Srinagar, transforms from rolling meadows dotted with flowers in spring to one of country’s top skiing locales.
A haven for beginners, Gulmarg has easy slopes and warmer climes. Even if you don’t have your own equipment, rent all you need from the stores there. The gentlest “bunny” slope is about 200m and connected with a ski lift.
After a couple of days of practice you graduate to the intermediate level where slopes become steeper and longer.
The longest ski run of 2,213 m is connected with a gondola cable car. Ogling at Nanda Devi The slopes of Auli, surrounded by dense deodar forests, offer a visual treat and tremendous opportunity for adventure sports.
Along with tamer activities like snow-ball fights and building snow men, people come here to snow-board and ski. Auli also offers panoramic views of peaks like Nanda Devi, Mana Parvat and Kamet.
Chair lifts connect the base lodge to the beginner’s bunny slopes and from there it’s an 800 m long ride to the higher slopes. Skiers can easily go from one point to the next and ski down, and if you are not one for speeds take a leisurely walk down the paths.
While experienced skiers have a plethora of terrain to explore, there are also courses for beginners. Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam conducts a seven-day and a 14-day course in January-March.
The Winter Games Federation of India organises international skiing championships in Auli in February and March every year. To keep up with the global standards, these slopes are kept in pretty good condition.
Here temperatures drop to as low as –8 degrees in the winters so make sure your travel kit is well equipped not just to beat the cold but also for any medical emergencies.
Gear up for the run Your woollens should include a warm cap, socks, gloves and mufflers. Keep a wind-proof jacket or a ski jacket to protect against the biting cold winds and of course a pair of snow boots. Sunglasses and a torch light are also a must.
For first timers or those who don’t have the required equipment, fear not as Alpine or Nordic skiing equipment are readily available for hire. Other activities in these skiing joints include free styling and zigzagging between flags.
A comprehensive pre-season conditioning programme is necessary to loosen muscles and prepare the body for the more strenuous slopes.
Aerobic and anaerobic conditioning, strength training, balance and agility training and stretching will not only enhance your enjoyment and performance, but will also minimise chances of getting injured.