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HindustanTimes Thu,28 Aug 2014

Chill out in the North this winter

Sneha Mahale, Hindustan Times  Mumbai, November 18, 2012
First Published: 14:50 IST(18/11/2012) | Last Updated: 14:56 IST(18/11/2012)

Mumbai gets a cold wave for a week annually, and most people recognise it when the temperature dips below 15 degrees at night. However, several parts of north India do not see even maximum temperatures touching that figure at this time of the year We pick five places that you ought to visit just for the chills and thrills.

Glacier hopping

When you think of the word ‘glacier’ in India, you automatically associate it with Siachen, the Indian army and unbearable cold. Though the mighty glacier in Kashmir is a force to reckon with no matter what time of the year, there are a few others you can visit without the risk of losing life or limb.

The Himalayas are home to nearly 15,000 glaciers and with its snow-capped mountains, incredible scenery and lush green meadows, the Kafni Glacier trek is fast becoming a favourite with trekkers from around the world. Situated on the east side of Pindar valley, the glacier gives rise to the river Kafni. Conditions permitting, tourists can trek right up to the snout of the glacier. You could also head to Bara Shigri, the largest glacier in Himachal Pradesh or Chandra Glacier, which is located on the slopes of the main Himalaya.
Best time to visit: November, March
Call: 98111 44306 (Silver Stripe Outdoors)

Frozen river trekking
You can’t call yourself a true adventure seeker unless you’ve undertaken a trek to Zanskar (Ladakh) and walked across the frozen river. Popularly known as the Chadar trek, this route is the only way for locals to travel in winter. Though this has been a trade route for centuries, it gained popularity recently among winter trekkers. Other options include the Chandrashila Trek, open through the year, and the Dodital Trek to see a lake situated at a height of 3,307 m.

Best time to visit: Mid-January to mid-February
Call: 120 4052615 99 (Peak Adventure)

Skiing

Though Gulmarg is the unofficial snow capital of India, Auli in Himachal Pradesh comes a close second. Run by the Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam (GMVN), it sports a three-km long slope ranging from a height of 2,519 to 3,049 m. The resort also has snow beaters to keep the slopes fit for skiing making it the perfect choice for amateur skiers. A 500 m long ski-lift carries visitors back to the slope top, saving them the trouble of carrying their skis.

Best time to visit: End of December to March.
Call: 135 2740896 (GMVN)

Next week, plan your trip to the east with our itinerary

Leopard spotting
Mumbai may have more than its share of leopards, but there is something to be said about the elusive snow leopard spotted along the foothills of the Himalayas. There are three species known to inhabit the vast expanse of Ladakh.

To spot this magnificent creature, keep an eye out for  eagles and red beak crow that usually follow the leopard and scavenge for caught prey.

Best time to visit: March
Call: 94251 53571 (India Footprints)

Play in the snow
Shimla: The capital of Himachal Pradesh receives snowfall after the third week of December. And if the crowds feel too intimidating, head to Kufri, Shilon Bagh and Chail.

Manali: The Solang Valley is a favourite among tourists looking to play in fresh snow.

Gulmarg: An accessible venue, it ranks as India’s most visited ski resort. The snow here is considered one of the finest and skiing is quite the experience.

Patnitop: Considered a stopover while heading to Jammu, it attracts several tourists looking to play around. 

Kanatal: This all-season destination is 30 kms from Mussoorie, and offers some of the best views in the region.

Dress right

Dress in layers: The more layers you wear, the easier it becomes to retain heat. Also, invest in thermal clothes.
Avoid natural fibres: Cotton becomes damp when you sweat while skiing and it is easier to freeze in the cold once you are stationary.
Use high quality synthetic fabrics: Invest in high quality synthetic fabrics like Polarfleece and Gore Tex. These are known brands and won’t let you down. 
Don't forget the accessories: It would make for a sorry tale if you put in this much effort and then goof up by not carrying gloves, goggles or scarves and a monkeycap. So pack these without fail.

Lake crossing
This beautiful lake in Kashmir has often provided a picturesque backdrop to Bollywood films ranging from Kashmir Ki Kali (1964) to Mission Kashmir (2000). Though the Dal Lake is known for its shikaras, fishing and watersports in the summer months, it is also quite popular in winter. When the lake freezes over, it is possible to walk on it, play some cricket or even cycle across.
Best time to visit: December to February


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