Five Snowy Hill Stations in Northern India

by Rohit Agarwal
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If you have visited the plains of India or the South of India, you may be fascinated by the snow and love the idea of a snowball fight or a competition over who makes the prettiest snow angel while traveling in Northern India. The Indian Himalayas are rarely visited on a first trip to the country, but for travelers looking for a a real adventure, it’s time we bring to you the top five snowy hill stations in Northern India.

Pahalgam, Kashmir

Once a humble shepherd’s village, Pahalgam is now the popular hill station in the Kashmir valley with breath-taking views. The temperature never exceeds 25 degrees Celsius (77 degrees Fahrenheit), even in summer. Set amidst steep hills and valleys, it exudes a natural splendor described by snow-clad hills on all sites and gorgeous weather, besides being situated at the confluence of streams flowing in from the Sheshnag Lake and the Lidder River. Pahalgam hosts an amazing two-day long Snow Festival which includes activities like snow-sledding, skiing, and more. Snow-covered mountains and the sightseeing and activities that can be engaged in make you realize how apt the “Paradise on Earth” title given to Jammu and Kashmir is.

Pahalgam, Kashmir Photo by Ankur P, CC BY-SA 2.0. (See photo credits below.)

  • Travel Tip: Hire a local guide on your trip to Pahalgam.

Manali, Himachal Pradesh

Despite being a very popular hill station, Manali never ceases to amaze you, especially if you visit in the winter. Covered in a blanket of snow from January to March, the sights and experiences awaiting you at Manali are unparalleled. Connect to your spiritual side or spend hours on end in the hot springs at Vashisht, or head to the Sonamarg Valley to participate in an array of activities like paragliding, bungee jumping, skiing or zorbing. The snow-laden Rohtang Pass offers you a view of snow-capped mountains and dainty houses covered in snow. Grab a cup of chai and chullah-cooked maggi from one of the vendors and enjoy the view. Street shopping and tasting the local wines are must-dos. Experience serenity in the lap of nature at Manali.

Manai, Himachal Pradesh. Photo by Nishanth Jois, CC BY 2.0 (See photo credits below.)

  • Travel Tip: Confirm beforehand if snowfall is expected during your travel and stay at Manali, otherwise your trip may turn out to be disappointing.

Nainital, Uttarakhand

Walk around the cold, dark waters of the Nainital Lake amid a silence so quiet that you can even hear the sound of the snowflakes falling on your shoulders or revel in the tranquillity of the Naini Peak. Don’t forget to visit the Snow View Point to catch a glimpse of acres of land covered with pure white, virgin snow stretching on for miles with a dazzling view of the Himalayas. Hike to Khurpatal Lake, which is surrounded by terraced fields and is a hotspot for anglers. Locals are warm and welcoming. Nainital is a treat during the winters and should definitely make it to your winter travel bucket list.

Nainital, Uttarakhand. Photo by Aman Arora, CC BY-ND 2.0 (See photo credits below.)

Auli, Uttarakhand

If extreme cold and a lot of snow don’t bog you down but excite you, visit Auli in winter. Get ready to be mesmerized with the unexploited and unexplored snow slopes of this gorgeous snow meadow. The area also offers beautiful views of sunrises and sunsets.  Take Asia’s longest gondola ride from Joshimath to Auli. You can participate in a variety of snow games and snow sports. Auli makes the perfect backdrop for the most beautiful photographs.

Auli, Uttarakhand. Photo by Anuj Kumar Garg, CC BY-SA 2.0 (See photo credits below.)

  • Travel Tip: Enroll with GMVL and get some basic skiing lessons from experts. Chair car lifts, headgear and food are also included so it’s a win-win.


Another popular tourist destination, Ladakh is just beautiful in winter. While Leh remains closed to tourists due to very heavy snowfall, the Chadar Trek offers an experience like no other. It is a daunting 9-day trek across the Zanskar River to some of the most gorgeous scenery nature can afford. There are waterfalls frozen by mid-fall that create spellbinding illusions. Eat a lunch at one of the monasteries with the lamas and bond with the very friendly locals. You will find some of the most challenging and inspiring treks and experiences of your life. Get ready to be taken back to the Ice Age!

Ladakh. Photo by Margarita, CC BY-SA 2.0 (See photo credits below.)

  • Travel Tip: Instead of staying at hotels, try lodging with a local family in their home. It’s often a great experience that lets you get the added bonus of witnessing the local flavor of life in Ladakh.

So, pack your warm snow gear and pajamas, pack your bags, head out to one of the many cool snowy winter destinations that Northern India has to offer and get ready to create memories that will last a lifetime.

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Photo Credits:

All Photos CC BY-SA 2.0:

  • Pahalgam, Kashmir, Photo by Ankur P.
  • Manali, Himachal Pradesh, Photo by Nishanth Jois
  • Nainital, Uttarakhand, Photo by Aman Arora
  • Auli, Uttarakhand, Photo by Anuj Kumar Garg
  • Ladakh, Photo by Margarita. (Cover Photo.)

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