As the blanket of notorious early morning fog and a dip in mercury leaves Delhiites shivering, in some places not so far away people are enjoying winter with a mystical twist what with waking up to a pristine white blanket of snow every single day. If all those pictures of fresh snow-capped mountains are making you yearn to see snow near Delhi, go dig your ankles in nature’s own fairy floss, roll down slippery white slopes, build snowmen and start snowball fights, one weekend and half-a-day’s travel is all you need.
While there are many places in Himachal, Uttrakhand and Jammu and Kashmir where you can see snow near Delhi, most of these mainstream destinations are bursting at the seams with a tourist influx they are not designed to handle. Your weekend getaway to see snow near Delhi could turn into a disastrous case of expectation versus reality. While you are looking forward to virgin snow, peace and quiet, you may find yourself stuck in long traffic jams, overbooked hotels, a paucity of water and snow having turned a repugnant shade of grey from pollution.
Ditch Manali, Shimla, Nainital and Mussoorie and head to these six offbeat hill towns to see snow near Delhi:
Shimla and Kufri have long been a popular escapade for people in the national capital seeking respite from heat or an exotic twist to winter. Decades of tourist influx, however, has robbed these places of their charm. If your idea of enjoying snow near Delhi entails a quiet, unhurried weekend, Chail is the place to be. Close to Shimla, it is about the same distance from Delhi but largely untouched by tourists. Enjoy your stay at the Chail Palace hotel, slither down the slippery snow-covered slopes or embark on a trek in the snowy trails that will literally take your breath away.
Ditch Dharamshala, Manali and Dalhousie for the untouched beauty of the Barot valley. It is one of most underrated places in all of Himachal, which is what makes it the perfect place to enjoy snow near Delhi. The place is accessible by road, rail and air. Road travel to Barot would be rather long but if you have done Delhi-Manali on a weekend, you can totally pull this off. Alternatively, you can take a train to Jogindernagar or fly to Bhuntar and hire a cab to reach Barot.
The place gets about 1.5 to 3 feet of snow in January, so there will be plenty for you to indulge in. You could well be the only tourist visiting the place, which is arguably the best way to spend a quiet weekend close to nature. Not too long ago the only lodging options in Barot were the HPPWD and Forest Rest House but several mid-range hotels and homestays have sprung up now, so you can expect a decent, comfortable stay and some simple but fulfilling meals.
If you are looking for a place to see snow near Delhi within a 350-km radius, Mussoorie springs up as a popular option. We suggest going on a slightly different tangent and exploring the lesser-known Dhanaulti instead. While Mussoorie is 316 km from Delhi, Dhanaulti is 317 km, which means you can find a largely secret haven of natural beauty at nearly the same distance and a whole lot more snow than you can ever hope to find in Mussoorie.
Even though Dhanaulti is largely unknown to the rest of the country, it is fast becoming the go-to weekend getaway for Dehradun residents. So, you can expect some fellow tourists but the place would still be far from swamped. The best part about escaping to Dhanaulti for seeing snow near Delhi is the totally unpredictable snowfall pattern of the place. There is no doubt you’ll be greeted by a thick snow cover as you drive in but if you are in luck you may as well wake up to the mesmerising sight of gentle snowflakes falling and covering the entire landscape in a fresh white cover.
Patnitop, a magical hill town in Udhampur district, is fast gaining popularity as a summer tourist destination for its thick cover of towering pine and deodar trees, wooden cabins, pony rides and snow-capped mountains in the distance. Exploring this quaint hill station in winter is what makes the magic of the place come to life in essence. With knee-deep snow, flakes resting on trees like cotton balls waiting to be plucked and a thick white blanket covering everything from house roofs to vehicles and roads, Patnitop is like a piece straight out of a fairytale.
Yes, given its distance from Delhi, a weekend road trip to Patnitop and back may not be the most practical idea. Instead, you can take a flight to Jammu and hire a cab for the remaining 100-km journey to Patnitop. It’ll be every bit worth the splurge.
What can be said about the beauty of this hypnotic town that hasn’t been said before, except that you can see all the images and read up over and over again about it being a ‘heaven on earth’ but you won’t know what that truly means until you set foot in Srinagar and let its opiate beauty wash you over.
As with Patnitop, for Srinagar too, you can take a flight to make a weekend getaway in this paradise a reality. Srinagar may not be geographically close to the national capital but the frequent and direct flight connectivity definitely puts on the list of places to see snow near Delhi.
A distance of about 500 km from Delhi and an over 10-hour drive, thanks to the hilly terrain, makes Auli perhaps the most taxing of these offbeat places to see snow near Delhi. If you can pick a long weekend or throw in a day or two of leave from work, this may well prove to be the most exhilarating trip of them all. A dreamland for the traveller of every kind, Auli is known of its picturesque landscape, a thick snow cover and a panoramic view of towering mountain peaks all glistening in a pristine white cover, but what sets Auli apart from most other destinations to see snow near Delhi are its ski slopes.
It is one of the few places in India where both amateurs and professionals can try their hand at skiing, and the exacting drive from Delhi is often a good deterrent for a majority of mainstream travellers. The many eco-resorts in the area are another huge drawcard of nature lovers. If you are looking for an action-packed yet peaceful tryst with snow this winter, Auli is the way to go.
Don’t forget to pack your warmest woollens, some sturdy pairs of boots, gloves, caps and scarves before you head to see snow near Delhi and have a whale of a time. Oh, and come back and tell us how it went.