December has kicked in and so has the urge to cuddle in warm blankets and drink hot chocolate. However, taking longer leaves seems to take precedence! Sadly, a large part of India does not experience snowfall. But should that stop you from getting all the chills? Absolutely not. You worked all year. You deserve this! So, here’s 10 places for you to choose from this holiday season! Keep your leave application ready and some warm clothes too!
Sometimes experiencing great things comes with going to the far ends. Nagaland is that end! This North-Eastern state lights up at this time of the year. Christmas décor adorns houses, musicians take the stage, and bizarre traditional delicacies take over! But it’s not the festive mood that calls out to you as much. Besides the Christmas festivities and lush hills of the North-East, Nagaland is famous for its indigenous population. One can still find exotic tribes and the famous headhunting groups in the Northern parts of the state. They dress, live, eat and work traditionally. The ‘Hornbill Festival’ is the best way to get a glimpse of their unique culture. This annual festival is where you can see the splendour of the Naga tribes! The first 10 days of December are when all of them gather in one place and showcase their culture through folk music, art and drama. Music lovers can find solace in rock concerts where artists from around the country come and perform.
Also read: 6 Romantic Winter Getaways In India
Hornbill Festival: Kisama Heritage Village
Nearest Airport: Dimapur Airport
Nearest Railway Station: Dimapur Station
2. Ranthambore: Rajasthan
Ditch the same old touristy places and head to the wilderness. Ranthambore National Park in Rajasthan – one of the best tiger reserves of India is where you can spot the big wild cats. If the big cats don’t come out in the open, there are leopards, caracals and jungle cats for you to spot. Take a safari into the thick woods and explore the rich flora and fauna that covers this beautiful region lying between the Aravalli and Vindhya Ranges. Since it’s winter, the best way to enjoy it is by camping under the starry skies and sitting around a bonfire. Take excursions around the area to visit temples and forts. Those who want to splash some cash, glamping too is on a high at this jungle safari. The Oberoi VanyaVillas is where you can get a lavish jungle experience.
Nearest Airport: Sanganer Airport – Jaipur
Nearest Railway Station: Sawai Madhopur Railway Station
3. Jaisalmer: Rajasthan
The vastness of the Thar and the star covered skies above, the cold winter breeze brushing by and the moon shine so bright – Jaisalmer is truly goals. The tourists flocking here, come to see the vibrant, rural Rajasthan, its honey-coloured buildings, and of course, to camp in the sand dunes. Camel rides, jeep safaris, fort tours and some haunted trails for the brave – the winters are the best time to experience all of it since summers are scorching with strong winds. If you’re in for glamming up your stay, camps like The Serai and Damodar give you the rustic vibes with a modern twist!
Nearest Airport: Jodhpur Airport (5-hour drive from Jodhpur)
Nearest Railway Station: Jaisalmer Railway Station
4. Dalhousie: Himachal Pradesh
A winter wonderland that oozes old-world charm, Dalhousie is utopic. This tinsel town with colonial architecture (given its background as a summer retreat for British officers) is surrounded by the snow-peaked Himalayas and is graced with snowfall in winters. What does that mean? You get to see snow covered pine trees, snow-angels and white waters. That’s not it. The annual ice skating carnival takes place in Dalhousie during this time and goes up until the end of February. Indulge in ice-skating, skiing, figure skating, speed hockey and more. The experience is doubled up because you’ll be doing all this on one of the largest natural rinks in Asia amidst snow-clad peaks. Those who want to experience a little bit of Switzerland, Khajjar, a few Kms from Dalhousie is where cedar and pine trees surround green meadows with cows grazing on them. In the distant, you see the mighty hills. The Khajjar Lake completes the postcard-perfect picture!
Nearest Airport: Jammu – 107 km from Dalhousie
Nearest Railway: Pathankot Railway Station – 85 km from Dalhousie
5. Gulmarg: Jammu and Kashmir
Jammu and Kashmir has rightly been named ‘Paradise on Earth’ and one can get a little glimpse of this divine beauty at Gulmarg. Probably one of J&K’s most prized possession, Gulmarg owes its charm to the vast meadows of flowers, green pine trees, lakes scattered over the town and the tall-standing Himalayas. The world’s highest green golf course at a height of 2,650 m and Gulmarg Gondola – a two-stage ropeway ferrying about 600 people per hour at a height of 3,979 m making it one of the highest in the world also make Gulmarg a favourite among tourists. The weather in Gulmarg is wonderful all year round, but Bollywood’s favourite destination turns into a hub for adventure sports around December when blankets of snow cover this hill station! Try your hand at skiing, snow-boarding, heli-skiing and more such activities on the slopes of Mt. Apharwat. If adventure sports does not fit your bill, you can scream your lungs out from the top of Kongdori Mountain just like Bunny and Naina did in YJHD! (Yes, it’s Gulmarg and not Manali)
Nearest Airport: Srinagar – 56 Km from Gulmarg
Nearest Railway Station: Jammu – 290 Km from Gulmarg
6. Kutch: Gujarat
If you want to immerse yourself in all things cultural, Kutch in winters is the best place to do so. The Rann Utsav – an amalgamation of tradition, heritage, colours, celebration and nature’s bounty is a four-month-long carnival that attracts people from around the globe to experience Kutchi Culture. The vibrancy is amplified with a backdrop of enormous stretches of white sand which glisten under the full moon shine. The Great Rann is a spectacular sight with the white salt marsh covering up to 7,505.22 square kilometres of the Thar Desert. Unobstructed views of white sands as far as your eyes can see meeting the sky at horizon – a sight you’ll remember forever! Besides camping and safaris, one can also visit historic sites in Dholivara and Bhuj. For the shop-o-holics, Kutch has plenty of handicraft villages where you can buy local artefacts, jewellery and clothes. Rann of Kutch in December is ideal for the romantics and adventurous alike!
Nearest Airport: Bhuj – 72 km from Kutch
Nearest Railway Station: Bhuj – Taxi to Kutch
Dates: 1st November – 20th February 2018
Packages: INR 5500 + taxes onward
7. Hampi: Karnataka
Down South, you may not find snowcapped mountains, but the exquisiteness is no less. An undulating landscape dotted with sand-stone coloured rocks, unearthed from what once was the Vijayanagar Empire – A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the ruins of Hampi are spell-binding. Every rock here has a story of its own. Magnificently carved temples adorn Hampi. The Virupaksa Temple, Monolith Bull, Big Shivlinga, Vithala Temple, Hazara Rama, Royal Enclosures are some interesting sites for history lovers. Those who’d rather test their strengths than take a history lesson, Hampi has heaps of boulders to climb. Professionals and amateur rockclimbers alike scale these rocks. The best way to experience these remains is by walking or pedalling on a cycle.
Also read: Explore The Ruins Of Hampi On a Cycle
Nearest Airport: Hubli Airport – 144 Km from Hampi
Nearest Railway: Kariganuru Station – 10 Km from Hampi
8. Gokarna: Karnataka
Goa’s quieter sister, Gokarna, is for those who want to enjoy the beach life minus the tourists, shacks and loud music. Getting increasingly popular, Gokarna still maintains its tranquillity and remains low-key. Stretches of serene beaches with azure waters, palm trees lining up the coast with hammocks hanging from them, and surfers battling waves – Gokarna is ideal for those looking to laze about. Libertines can find pleasure in the very popular surf scene in Gokarna. Surfers from different countries test the waters here. If you’re looking at getting some vitamin sea, December is an ideal month to do so when there’s just about enough sun.
Nearest Airport: Dabolim, Goa – Four-hour drive to Gokarna
Nearest Railway Station: Konkan Railway Station – 15 minutes from Gokarna
9. Bhedaghat: Madhya Pradesh
The holy waters of Narmada flow through the gorges made by tall standing marble rocks. 25 km from Jablapur city is Bhedaghat. Boats streaming down the river and limestone rocks making for a perfect backdrop, Bhedaghat is as scenic as it can get. The beauty is amplified on full moon nights when these rocks shimmer in the moonlight. A private boat ride with your BAE and you have a movie scene right there! The month of December makes it even more romantic with the chills! Besides the ginormous rocks, you can also witness a ginormous waterfall at Bhedaghat. The Dhuandhar Waterfalls of Bhedaghat crash so hard on the rocks below, giving you the illusion of smoke rising out of them. They aren’t the tallest, but the semi-circle formed by the cascading waters of Narmada make for a splendid view! One can also witness this beauty from up in the air by availing the rope-way services.
Nearest Airport: Jablapur – 265 km from the city of Amarkantak.
Nearest Railway: Pendra Road – 17 km from the city of Amarkantak
10. Auli: Uttarakhand
Needless to say, India’s best skiing destination is saved for last. Deodars, oaks, and conifers adorning the snow layered slopes of the rolling Himalayan Mountains – Auli in Uttarakhand is a dream destination in December. The snow-laden tracks make Auli one of the best skiing resorts in the country. It also gives you a panoramic view of some of the highest peaks like Nanda Devi, Hathi Parbat and Trishul Peak. Those looking for a pious journey, Auli has several temples in Joshimath and entry points to the holy towns of Badrinath and Kedarnath. The rivers here are white, cold and fast flowing. Auli’s every corner is worthy of a #wokeuptothis picture. From the gushing sound of the rivers to the chirping of birds – Auli’s serenity is other-worldly.
Nearest Airport: Jolly Grant (Dehradun) – 149 Km from Auli
Nearest Railway Station: Haridwar – 273 Km from Auli