There are a wide array of options available for tourists who are looking to experience a dream winter vacation in India. Some of the famous tourist destinations to travel during the winter season are:
Auli (9,500-10,500 ft above sea level ) is a renowned destination for skiing and sightseeing in Uttarakhand, India. It is a little difficulty to get to this ski village which requires an overnight camp to reach from Delhi (500 km) the nearest major airport but the effort is worth it when there is a lot of snow.
The closest airport to reach Auli is Dehradun (298 kms), the capital of Uttaranchal. Auli has well connectivity through road - There are frequent buses, hired jeeps and taxis running for Auli from Rishikesh, Haridwar, Dehradun, and Delhi. Auli does not have a railway station. Ramnagar, Kathgodam, Kotdwara, and Rishikesh are the nearby railway stations connecting to Auli. There are a good range of budget and deluxe hotels available for tourists to stay.
Auli has excellent snowy slopes and is equipped with the best skiing facilities which makes it a favorite of ski lovers from across the world. You can also come here if you want to learn skiing. There are Skiing courses and professional instructors available for beginners. Steep snowcapped mountains, frequent snowfalls, hot springs, and ancient temples make Auli a fabulous trip for Trekkers and nature lovers who don't intend to ski.
Tourists and Trekkers are rewarded with magnificent views of taller Himalayan peaks - Nanda Devi, Kamet, Mana Parvat, Chhang Bhang, Lampak, Dunagiri and snow covered beatiful alpine forests dominated by Golden Oaks, Pines, and Rhododendron trees. Thus Auli proves to be a perfect combination of a sightseeing tour and an adventure trip.
Gulmarg popularly known as "Meadow of Flowers" is the most frequented winter destination of India. The gorgeous hill resort is easily accessible from Srinagar (56 kms from Srinagar) where regular bus services and tourist taxis are available to reach Gulmarg. The buses go till Tangmarg which is 11 kms from Gulmarg and the remaining distance can be covered by smaller vehicles and tourist taxis.
The journey to the Gulmarg offers nothing but a spectacular experience to travelers - wide roads, snow-clad mountains, thick forests, fruit laden orchards and picturesque villages holding vast expanses of rice and maize fields. No wonder that Gulmarg has been the venue of several films in the past.
There are numerous hotels of different standards available for accommodation and stay in Gulmarg, some being luxury, others being budget hotels. There are also JKTDC's winterized, fully furnished huts and cottages, which offer a great value for money to tourists.
Gulmarg is dotted with countless sites of interest for the tourists. Snow covered hills, splendid lakes, beautiful flower valley covered with colorful Daisies, Bluebells, wild flowers, Forget Me Not's and Buttercups, and scenic pastorals are perfect for sightseeing, adventure and relaxation. Gulmarg is also India's popular Ski Resort which hosts world's highest gondola ski lift. The skiing season lasts from November to February. Gulmarg also has the highest golf course in the world. Tourists are offered short term memberships by the golf club to play in the Golf Course. Other adventure sport available isTrekking, Horse riding.
Popular places to visit in Gulmarg are Khilanmarg which is the spot for skiing and offers stunning views of the Kashmir valley and the Himalayan range, Alpather Lake a picturesque frozen alpine lake, and shrine of Baba Reshi, a Muslim mystic saint where you can get a close view of snow covered hills and feel the joy of pleasant weather, Ferozpore Nallah, and Gulmarg Biosphere Reserves.
Haflong is a hill station in Assam also referred as the land of blue hills. Haflong is connected by road and air from Guwahati, around 353 kms. from Guwahati by road. Deluxe buses run from Main Road, Hamringdi cinema for Silchar and Guwahati. The other nearest metro for getting to Haflong is Kolkata in West Bengal. Lower Haflong has a railway station with a slow and scenic ride to Lumding, Silchar, and Dharmanagar.
Haflong is famous for its scenic features comprising of azure blue mountains, cascading waterfalls, emerald green rivers, pleasing orchards of oranges, pineapple gardens, unique orchids such as Blue Vanda, and rare species of birds. Jatinga, a popular bird watching center is a haven for hundreds of migratory birds in winter. November to February is the best season to spend some quality time at Haflong as Wild orchids, orange orchards and pineapple gardens are at their best. The green valley and the hilly treks at Borai hills are hotspots of adventure tourism events like hang gliding, Para-gliding and Trekking.
Popular tourist attractions at Haflong are - a lake resort developed in the lavish green hills around the town, Garampani, a hot-water spring which is believed to have medicinal value are other tourist attractions and 12th century monolithic Ramchandi Temple at Maibong.
Nestled between the lofty snow-capped Himalayan peaks; draped in forests of pine, rhododendron, and oak; and surrounded by lush green pastures and lakes, Shimla offers an unforgettable travel experience.
Shimla is well connected to major cities by air, rail, and road. There are connecting flights from Delhi, Chandigarh, and Kullu to Shimla. Delux bus services shuttle between Shimla and Delhi, Kalka, Chandigarh, Dehradun, Ludhiana, Ambala, Amritsar, Jalandhar, Jammu and other towns in Haryana and Punjab. Shimla is connected by train to Kalka which has direct rail connections with Delhi, Calcutta and Amritsar. There are taxi services available between Shimla and Kalka.
Shimla enjoys heavy snowfall from December to January which make it a perfect destination for snow lover tourists and winter sports enthusiasts from across the world. One can savor gorgeous sights such as planes and hills covered with white blanket, cascading waterfalls, fruit laden orchards, and verdant hills. All in all Shimla gives you an excellent opportunity to reconnect with nature. For tourists Shimla boasts of a wide range of deluxe and budget hotels and accommodation options.
You can also plan to visit churches, temples, colonial mansions, and markets during your tour to the hill station. Tourists are presented with an unprecedented view of erstwhile colonial era in the city. The city retains its colonial charm in the form of ancient heritage buildings, museums and churches which are preserved in their original neo-gothic architecture. Shimla is also a major hub for major adventure sports activities such as Fishing, Golfing, Mountaineering, Paragliding, Ice Skating, Skiing , and Trekking.
Main tourist spots in Shimla are Himachal State Museum & Library, Viceregal Lodge & Botanical Gardens, The Ridge, The Mall, Chadwick Falls, Elysium Hill, Annandale, The Mall, Dorje Drag Monastery, and Prospect Hill. Religious places to visit are Christ Church & St. Michael's Cathedral, Jakhoo Temple, Sankat Mochan, Kali Bari, and Tara Devi.
The city also offers an enjoyable shopping experience to shopaholics. Markets of Shimla offer some of the best collection of small souvenirs, knick-knacks, exclusive handmade decoratives, utility pieces, wooden shawls, sweaters, and other artifacts. Popular shopping places in Shimla are Mall Road, Himachal Emporium, Minchys, DOCKERS San Francisco, Minerva Book House, Lower Bazar, and Lakkar Bazar (for wooden souvenirs). To sum up, a magnificent destination for snow capped mountains, nature walks, religious and cultural feasts, and thrilling winter sports - Shimla is a million dollar worth of experience.
Goa - the land of enchanting beaches is a winter destination which is second to none in India. The getaway beaches of Calangute, Baga, Vagatore and Palolem can help you escape winter and warm your spirit in the sun and relax your mind. Goa is a host to numerous winter festivals. You can indulge yourself in Goan festivities like the Goa Heritage Festival, Feast of the Three Kings, the Konkani Drama Festival and enjoy all the fun and frolic that happens. Goa is a heaven for ocean-lovers who could indulge in - sunbathing, swimming, yachting, surfing, or simply reclining on a lounger on the golden sands with a drink.
Portugese charm can be felt everywhere in Goa, in the ruins of Portuguese fort and houses, in the churches, chapels, and chandeliers, in the unbroken sun-soaked beaches,. Popular tourist attractions at Goa include Goa Church, Chapel of St Sebastian, Goa Temple, Beaches Fort Aguada & Candolim, and Varka & Cavelossim.
Margao (Madgaon) has signs of the erstwhile Portuguese rule that include The Church of the Holy Spirit, built in 1675, The De Silva House and the De Joao Figueiredo House. The Menezes Braganza House in Chandor (situated 20kms from Margao) was built in the 17th century. The antiques, chandeliers and stained glass windows seen here make the long ride from Margoa worth your efforts.
Fort Aguada was built in 1612 on the Mandovi River. The beaches of North Goa extend from Fort Aguada in an uninterrupted 30 km stretch upto the border with Maharashtra. There are many natural springs and a lighthouse at the fort. Sinquerim beach near the fort has facilities for para-sail and jet skiing.
Busy Market at Mapusa has a collection of modern buildings, strings of spicy Goan sausages (chorizo), toddy (fermented palm sap), spices and exotic fruits. Bondala Wildlife Sanctuary located 50 km south-east of Panaji has a good botanical garden, a fenced Deer Park and a zoo.
The local cuisine at Goa is a hard to miss menu. Megson's and Moti Mahal can be visited for some mouth watering Goan food. Venite is an old favourite for its ambience, good music and luscious seafood. Nandan and Rajdhani Hotel offers pure vegetarian food from all parts of India as well as some Chinese dishes. Miramar Restaurant at the Cidade de Goa Beach Resort is a posh restaurant where you can dine on delicious Indian, French or Portuguese cuisine in the candle light while listening to live Portuguese guitarists.