Who says skiing is a sport that is restricted to only the rich and the famous? The average Indian too has realised that picking up this popular sports activity is not that difficult. And several destinations, which offer snowy slopes 24/7, are now sought after by those looking to escape the city’s sweltering heat during summer holidays.
“Skiing is still a niche product in India, though it has been gaining popularity. The best skiing destinations in India include Auli in Garhwal Himalayas in Uttaranchal, Gulmarg in Kashmir and Kufri, Narkanda and Manali in Himachal Pradesh,” says Karan Anand, head relationships, Cox & Kings.
In fact, ski holidays are fast emerging as a luxury travel trend, with increasing number of Indian travellers weaving the activity in their holiday itinerary. The sport too, in itself, has become popular in India in the last decade. The combination of the interesting cultural experience that India offers mixed with a skiing and snowboarding adventure makes for an inimitable holiday for any enthusiast. “The country has a large number of hill stations, which have excellent skiing facilities.
Places where tourists can go skiing are Manali, Shimla, Nainital, Mussoorie, and the Himalayan ranges,” says Vishal Suri, chief executive officer, tour operating, Kuoni India. He adds that while desi options are popular, they also offer customised holidays to exotic European destinations for travellers seeking exhilarating experiences. Divia Thani Daswani,
editor, Condé Nast Traveller India, attributes this increase in popularity to several reasons. She says, “First, because we have relative peace in Kashmir, the number of skiers coming from across the world increases. Second, more parents are sending their children off to ski camps in Europe, as it gives them great exposure to a completely new environment, sport, experience and set of friends. Lastly, well-known people like Adi Godrej, Chitrangada Singh and Homi Adajania love the skiing in Gulmarg. That kind of endorsement is encouraging.”
Also, for Indians, it is not skiing alone that is of interest, but the entire 360 degree experience, be it staying at ski resorts and lodges, to the thrill of diverse activities like snowboarding, snow mobiling and sledging. “With opportunities like value ski passes, basic tutorials, expert instructors and equipment on a rental basis, the intent is to open up the market and move beyond ski experts to people like you and me,” says Madhav Pai, director-leisure travel (outbound), Thomas Cook (India) Ltd.
Whistler in British Columbia in Canada
Zermatt, Interlaken, Kleine Scheidegg, Männlichen, Grindelwald, Mürren and Schilthorn in Switzerland
Wanaka in New Zealand
Chamonix-Mont Blanc, Avoriaz and Megeve in France
Aspen in USA
Ski Dubai in Dubai
Sapporo in Japan
Zell am See, Hahnenkamm and Kitzbuheler Hor in Austria
Bavarian Alps and Zugspitze in Germany
Banff/Lake Louise in Canada
Kitzbühel in Austria
Mont Tremblant, Fernie and Banff in Canada
Whitefish in Montana
Cortina d’Ampezzo in Italy
Niseko in Japan
Baquiera-Beret in Spain
Shemshak in Iran
Ouyoun El Simane at Kfardebian in Lebanon
Tiffindell in South Africa
Cairngorm resort in Scotland
Popova Shapka in Macedonia
Tips for first timers
Acclimatise: You have to give your body time to adjust to the low temperature, otherwise you risk serious injuries.
Get in shape: Though it might look easy, skiing needs you to maintain your balance while sliding down a mountain. This is anything but easy. So try and get into shape.
The right skis and boots: The most important thing is making sure the skis are about 30cm shorter than your height. Shorter skis are a lot easier to turn. When choosing the right boots, make sure you can move your toes.
Stay warm: Wear a thermal layer, made out of filament silk or LIFA. You also need to make sure that your outer layer is waterproof. And wear only one pair of socks. Multiple pairs will make you colder.
Don’t overdo it: After a few hours on the slopes, make it a point to call it a day and give your body a well-deserved rest.