When imagining a trip to India, you probably think of warm weather, exotic foods, and rich cultural heritage. But it's also home to popular skiing destinations where people worldwide come to test out the slopes.
While skiing isn't necessarily what India is known for, ski tourism is quickly growing in India, with many resorts popping up around its snowy regions. There are snow passes suitable for all levels, from beginners to experts.
But before you add your parka to your India Packing List, let me give you all the essential info about skiing in India and some tips you need to know for a smooth trip!
What to Expect When Skiing in India
The skiing season lasts from January to March and mainly occurs in Northern India near the Himalayas. The Himalayas are a world-renowned mountain range with considerable heights for amazing views and ski descents.
If you plan on skiing in India, there are some things that you need to keep in mind. Not only will you be packing for a ski trip, but you'll also have to prepare for a remote, mountainous experience.
Skiing is a sport unfamiliar to most Indians, so only a handful of ski resorts are available. There are also ski destinations that lack proper chair lifts or cable cars. While you can still walk up the slopes and ski down, these spots are primarily for those who want to see the snow rather than seriously spend the day skiing.
There are also high costs associated with ski equipment and lodging. But being able to ski at one of the most famous mountain ranges, the Himalayas is worth the extra costs!
Best Skiing Resorts and Villages in India
The Himalayas make a fantastic backdrop to any skiing adventure. There are several skiing destinations worth visiting across four states in Northern India. Here are the top ski spots that will give you an unforgettable, one-of-a-kind skiing experience.
In the region of Jammu and Kashmir, you'll find Pahalgam. It's a small town known for its incredible views of the western part of the Himalayas. It's one of the top skiing destinations in India.
Skiing is open from October to February and is known for heavy snowfall each season. You don't need to worry about the slopes lacking snow. While popular with tourists, the slopes are less crowded than at many popular ski resorts in other countries.
Gulmarg is another popular destination in this region for skiing. It resembles a Swiss village and is known as India's winter sports center. This quaint little town is great for taking photos and is known for the best skiing in India. The snow is the perfect mix of soft and fluffy without being wet and icy.
One of the best aspects of Gulmarg is its accessibility. It's one of the more accessible resorts, with regular flights and easy road access. You can fly there with Air India Express or drive around 90 minutes from the airport to Gulmarg.
The quality of the equipment and slopes at Gulmarg is world-class. It has 5 international-level poma ski lifts. It's also home to the highest cable car in the world. Named the Gulmarg Gondola, this world-renowned cable car takes skiers to Mt. Apharwat, 3,980 meters high.
This region is home to the valley of Solang Nala. This is a well-known spot for skiing. It has been host to winter games that feature skiing and invites ski lovers from amateurs to professionals.
The Institute of Mountaineering and Allied Sports is only a short distance from the slopes. Take some time to visit the institute and learn more about proper ski techniques and skills. They also provide workshops on parachuting, paragliding, and skating.
Although it's regarded as one of the better skiing destinations, the infrastructure could be better compared to Gulmarg. With only one ski lift and no equipment shops, extra planning is needed if you want to visit this ski area.
What Should You Bring for Skiing in India?
When planning your ski trip to India, there are some essentials that you'll want to make sure you bring. Basic ski equipment will be provided if you book a beginner ski package at some resorts. Double-check your reservations to see if this is the case. Use this complete guide to planning a ski trip to ensure you have all the essentials.
If you don't plan to book a package, you should bring your own skis and poles from home. You'll also want a helmet if you are a beginner for safety. Get a warm beanie to protect your head from the cold, if not a helmet.
Ski goggles are an excellent idea to protect your eyes from harmful UV rays, and they will also help keep the snow out of your path of vision as you ski down the slopes.
Some other things to keep in mind are essential clothing for freezing temperatures. This includes an insulated jacket, socks, and thermals to stay warm. Neck warmers are also advised to protect yourself from the cold winds on the mountain.
Quality winter boots are essential to a good ski trip. Again, check with your trip package because these can sometimes be included with your rental equipment.
Where to Learn Skiing in India
If you're a beginner skier, the Himalayan mountains may seem intimidating. Luckily, India has a few excellent courses on skiing that you can check out while you're there.
In Gulmarg, there's the Institute of Skiing & Mountaineering. They offer an introductory 14-day ski course that includes equipment and daily instruction. The lessons take place on the internationally acclaimed ski slopes of Gulmarg.
There is also the Institute of Mountaineering and Allied Sports in Manali. They offer a 21-day skiing course in the Solang Valley. They take ski lessons seriously with a library and lecture hall within the institute!
The Institute of Mountaineering and Winter Sports in Pahalgam has highly trained skiers to take you through the basics of skiing. It's regarded as one of India's most reliable and experienced institutes for learning to ski.
Make Your Adventure More Than Just a Ski Trip!
Now that you're familiar with India's skiing scene, you can start to craft your ideal travel experience for you, your family, and your friends.