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Winter holiday destinations in India

Discussion in 'Travel advice' started by JasmineLos, Dec 9, 2016.

  1. JasmineLos

    JasmineLos New Member

    I will be arriving in India with my parents and two brothers. We will be visiting family in India, but we would also like to go to some holiday destination and are finding it difficult to know which place we should visit.

    We know that it will be winter time when we go so we are ideally looking for winter holiday destinations in India and need some suggestions.
    We don't know how far we want to go out in India, so please be open with the suggestions without thinking where we would be based in India.

  2. briannagodess

    briannagodess Well-Known Member

    Hello there, welcome to the forum!


    There's no better time to visit India than during the winter season. This season is regarded as the best time to visit the country as the temperatures are lower and you can enjoy sightseeing as much as you want. As you venture into the northern part of India, you can enjoy the cold climates coupled with snow in some higher areas. Further to the south, east and west, you would find that temperatures are very mild, suitable for exploring the heritage sites and even the beaches of India. You won't find a shortage of places to visit around India during winter season. But for those who are still confused, this list would help you shorten your options, giving you the best winter destinations when in India.

    Winter Holiday Destinations in India

    Embrace the cold, frolic in the snow...

    1. Gulmarg (Jammu & Kashmir) - Gulmarg is an all-year round destination but the winter season lends its hands to make the hill station more enticing. With its snow-laden landscapes, Gulmarg is as scenic as those snow destinations you see in postcards. Temperatures reach below zero during the winter season so pack your heavy woollens to combat the cold temperatures. While Gulmarg can be enjoyed idyllically, you can also be as adventurous as you'd like. With the Gulmarg Gondola, you can enjoy the white slopes of the hill station along with the views. It is divided into two parts, Phase I and Phase II, wherein you can enjoy skiing in both phases. However, for beginners, it's best to just try out skiing in Phase I as Phase II is more for experts. From Phase II, you can trek to reach the Apharwat Peak. This peak remains covered with snow almost all-year round and provides you with a commanding view of the valley of Kashmir. You can also indulge in a stroll around the Outer Circle Walk, wherein you can enjoy snow without going to higher areas of Kashmir. If you have the time, climb a bit, about 90 steps, to reach the Rani Temple, an ancient temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. From the top of the temple, you can enjoy a view of the valley of Kashmir as well, which looks quite stunning during winter season.
    • Must visit attractions - Gulmarg Gondola, Apharwat Peak, Outer Circle Walk and Rani Temple
    Snow in Gulmarg (Image from Wikimedia)

    2. Dalhousie (Himachal Pradesh) - Much like the previous hill station, Dalhousie experience cold winters as well. Temperatures can go as low as 1°C but it's also not uncommon for temperature to reach below zero. Snowfall occurs by the end of December and lasts until January. At the highest point of Dalhousie, the Dainkund Peak, you can enjoy playing with thick snow especially during the peak of winter season. To reach the peak though, you need to climb for about 45 minutes, through slippery snow-laden steps. Make sure you bring snow shoes with good grip or else you might find it difficult to climb to the peak. The Chamera Lake is another must-visit where tourists can enjoy boating in. The views of the surrounding snow-capped mountains amidst the boat ride can calm your tired spirits. Just six kilometres away from the lake, there's the Bhalai Mata Temple, dedicated to Goddess Durga. You can either trek or ride a vehicle to reach the temple as it is located on a hillock. Although fairly small, the Saint John's Church is Dalhousie's oldest church, built around the 18th century. Finally, you can visit the Gandhi Chowk as well, the hill station's main commercial area where tons of restaurants and shops can be found. Dalhousie, having been a summer retreat of the British, has this old-world charm in it that makes it seem like its stuck in the bygone era still.
    • Must visit attractions - Dainkund Peak, Chamera Lake, Bhalai Mata Temple, Saint John's Church and Gandhi Chowk
    Look into the past and learn something new...

    3. Udaipur (Rajasthan) - Being a city in the desert state of Rajasthan, Udaipur has a relatively warm to hot climate almost all-year round. Winters are pleasant with temperatures not even exceeding 20°C. As such, the winter season is the best time to explore the royal palaces of Udaipur. Best known as the City of Lakes, Udaipur exudes a romantic vibe that even families would enjoy. Just a boat ride amidst the Lake Pichola can make you understand why Maharana Udai Singh decided to stay in this city. A glimpse of the majestic Lake Palace in the Jag Niwas Island can make you crave for more. This luxury hotel was once the summer resort of the royals of the city. On the banks of the lake is the City Palace of Udaipur requires at least 4 hours to fully explore. The palace complex has several palaces and museums within its premises that you can visit. The grandeur of the Mewar dynasty is exhibited in every aspect of the palace, from the intricate carvings to the exquisite furnitures. Located on the outskirts of Udaipur is the Monsoon Palace, once an observation ground for the monsoon clouds in the region. Now though, the palace is a tourist attraction, not only because of the architecture of the place, but also because it provides a scenic view of the mountain ranges and the city of Udaipur too. Just outside the palace is the Sajjangarh Wildlife Sanctuary where you can spot animals like blackbucks, chitals, sambars and many more. Finally, the Bagore Ki Haveli is a great way to end your tour of Udaipur. The cultural performances here done during evening time can be very fun and entertaining especially if you have little children with you.
    • Must visit attractions - Lake Pichola, Lake Palace, City Palace of Udaipur, Monsoon Palace, Sajjangarh Wildlife Sanctuary and Bagore Ki Haveli
    4. Orchha (Madhya Pradesh) - The hidden gem of Madhya Pradesh, Orchha, literally means hidden. While summers are hot here, with temperatures reaching 47°C, winters are mildly pleasant with temperatures not exceeding 35°C. The winter season is the best time for exploring the heritage sites of the region. The Betwa River flows throughout the ancient city, which can be referred to as the city's piece of tranquility. It stands unpolluted, serene and surrounded by the different forts and structures around Orchha. Just nearby the river is the Orchha Fort, perhaps the city's best attraction. From the outside, the fort doesn't look as grand or as strong as the forts of Rajasthan. The fort was built by Rudra Pratap during the 15th century and the structures within it boast of a combination of Hindu, Mughal and even Arabic styles of architecture. Just opposite the fort is the Jahangir Mahal, which was used only once by Jahangir during his visit in the city. It was Vir Singh Deo Bundela who commissioned for the establishment of the palace and it was never used by any other personality except Jahangir. The Chhatris of Orchha, also located on one end of the river, is another must visit. These cenotaphs were built for tombs of the Bundela dynasty, spread around the banks of the river. There are also a few religious sites around Orchha that you can visit but a recommended one is the Chaturbhuj Temple. Its high sandstone spires resemble that of pine trees which look quite stunning in contrast to the blue skies. Also quite interesting is that the temple has no idol inside its premises although it is dedicated to Lord Vishnu.
    • Must visit attractions - Betwa River, Orchha Fort, Jahangir Mahal, Chhatris of Orchha and Chaturbhuj Temple
    Orchha Fort (Image from Wikimedia)

    Delve into your spiritual side...

    5. Madurai (Tamil Nadu) - The temple city of Madurai in Tamil Nadu has warm climate almost all-year round. Winter is the best season to explore the city and even indulge in pilgrimages amidst its several temples. Temperatures are at the low 30°C mark so you can easily visit a few of over the hundreds of temples in the city. The Sri Meenakshi Amman Temple is one of its most ancient temples, having been established in the 7th century. However, the present structure has only been constructed during the 17th century as the original one was destroyed by invaders. The temple is dedicated to both Shiva and Parvati. It is also famous for its thousand-pillared hall, exquisitely carved and serene. Next is the Alagar Koyil Temple and Shrine, dedicated to both Vishnu and Murugan. The entire temple was built using granite, which gives it a rugged appearance. One of the six abodes of Lord Murugan, the Pazhamudir Cholai, is located close to the previous temple, on top of a hillock. It is set amidst dense forests so you need to visit it before the sun sets. Last but not the least is a temple dedicated to the different forms of Vishnu, the Koodal Azhagar Temple. It has a very colourful and elaborate gopuram that you can also see from a distance. These are just the biggest temples around Madurai and there are plenty more that you can visit to enrich your spiritual side.
    • Must visit attractions - Sri Meenakshi Amman Temple, Alagar Koyil Temple, Pazhamudir Cholai and Koodal Azhagar Temple
    6. Somnath (Gujarat) - Next is Somnath in the state of Gujarat, which has warm climate all-year round. Fortunately, winters are milder here, with temperatures around 32°C. The main religious attraction here is the Somnath Temple. Originally built during the 4th century AD, the present structure was constructed only during the 19th century. This is because the temple was destroyed many times in history, so there's the need to constantly repair and reconstruct it. Somnath Temple is regarded important as it is believed to be the first Jyotirlinga of the Lord Shiva. Located just beside the sea, the views from the temple and the serenity cannot be compared to any other religious site. The Bhalka Tirth, the place where Lord Krishna was hit by an arrow, is also a must visit when in the city. Close to it is the Gita Mandir, the place where Lord Krishna rested after being hit by the arrow. Finally, you can also visit the Triveni Sangam, the confluence of the three rivers of Kapila, Hiren and Saraswati. However, you might not be able to see the Saraswati River as it joins the other two underground. It is revered holy by many as it is believed that Lord Krishna took a last dip here before he died.
    • Must visit attractions - Somnath Temple, Bhalka Tirth, Gita Mandir and Triveni Sangam
    Gita Mandir (Image from Wikimedia)

    Into the blue...

    7. Kovalam (Kerala) - Kovalam is Kerala's most popular beach destination especially during the peak tourist season of winter. This is the best time to enjoy swimming and water sports in the region as temperatures are between 20°C to 35°C only. Kovalam Beach can be divided into three parts, namely: Lighthouse Beach, Hawa Beach and Samudra Beach. Lighthouse Beach is the most crowded and commercialised part but still attracts tons of local and foreign tourists. The best feature of the beach is that it has an assortment of hotels and restaurants for tourists. The beach itself has fine, golden sands and the water has mild waves perfect for activities such as body surfing and boating. Hawa Beach is located next to the previous beach and has more Indian tourists than foreign ones. There are also a number of beach shacks here in case you get hungry. But for water sports, facilities here are limited and you can only indulge in boating activities. Samudra Beach has more of a rocky, sandy shore and rough waves, perfect for just lounging around or enjoying the views.
    • Must visit attractions - Lighthouse Beach, Hawa Beach and Samudra Beach
    Lighthouse Beach in Kovalam (Image from Deepgoswami)

    8. Gokarna (Karnataka) - If you want to venture away from the crowded beach destinations, then head on over to Gokarna. It is often referred to as Mini Goa, owing to the similar beauty of its beaches with the state, minus the crowds and noise. Winters are mild and pleasant here, with temperatures not exceeding 33°C. Gokarna has five main beaches, which is fewer in contrast to Goa but offers more seclusion and more of a rural vibe. Gokarna Beach is the most commercialised beach here but its waters are not that suitable for swimming. You can indulge in surfing here though as there is a nearby surfing school to guide you and where you can rent out equipments from. On the southern side of the former beach is the Kudle Beach, a more secluded beach with powdery golden sands. There are plenty of beach shacks around as well as guest houses in case you would like to stay overnight. Further from Kudle Beach, to its southern side is the Om Beach, so-named because it resembles the religious Hindu symbol of OM. Its shores have a combination of rocks and sands with mild waves in the water. It's a less crowded beach so it's perfect for families or even couples. Half Moon Beach has rocky shores too, located on the other side of the cliff from Om Beach. Finally, approachable after a boat ride, is the Paradise Beach. You can also reach it after an hour of trekking from the Om Beach. Make sure you bring some water and snacks as there are no beach shacks here. But when it comes to clean water and shores, this beach is the cleanest out of all the beaches.
    • Must visit attractions - Gokarna Beach, Kudle Beach, Om Beach, Half Moon Beach and Paradise Beach
    Wildlife spotting...

    9. Kaziranga National Park (Assam) - We're coming to the end of our list and Kaziranga National Park is also included here. By the end of monsoon season, the wild animals in the national park graze upon the overgrowth of grasses in the national park. The national park is home to the most number of one-horned rhinoceroses in the world. Other endangered animals that you can also spot here are the Asiatic water buffalos and the Eastern swamp deers. Other animals that also reside in the national park are Indian elephants, barking deers, rhesus monkeys, Asiatic black bears and Indian gazelles. During winter, the national park also has a number of migratory birds that you can spot. Did you know that the Kaziranga National Park is also designated as an UNESCO World Heritage Site? For exploring the wild, you can opt for an exciting jeep safari or even an elephant safari, your choice.
    • Animals to spot - One-Horned Rhinoceroses, Asiatic Water Buffalos, Eastern Swamp Deers, Indian Elephants, Barking Deers, Rhesus Monkeys, Asiatic Black Bears and Indian Gazelles
    Kaziranga National Park (Image from Wikimedia)

    10. Pulicat Lake Bird Sanctuary (Andhra Pradesh) - Pulicat Lake is the second largest brackish water lagoon in India. It is home to hundreds of species of birds and becomes a hot spot for migratory birds during winter season. The most commonly spotted bird here is the greater flamingo, which can be easily spotted during winter season. Other bird species such as painted storks, spot-billed ducks, Eurasian kestrels, black-winged kites and many more can also be spotted in the lake. The water in the lake is also home to numerous aquatic species, which is why birds flock to it. You can hire a local boat and explore the lake within a half day, a day or two if you'd like. The Pulicat Lake Bird Sanctuary is not as well-known as other sanctuaries in India. This is definitely the time to explore this pristine lake and the wildlife living on it.
    • Animals to spot - Greater Flamingoes, Painted Storks, Spot-Billed Ducks, Eurasian Kestrels and Black-Winged Kites

    If you love the cold climate, you'd certainly enjoy these destinations all around India. Be prepared for the crowds though as winter season is also the peak tourist season in most destinations. The list above is very varied, giving you options for the different states around India. Do enjoy the winter holidays and bring home loads of memories that you'd surely treasure forever.