If you’re looking for a tad more snowy adventure than tossing snowballs, then perhaps you’re ready for Auli(2,895m). The Uttranchal government is putting its best foot forward here and trying to create a fine skiing town. Auli is small-the skiing area is seven kilometres, but it makes up with spectacular views of the East Garhwal peaks. There is a brand new cable car system to take you all the way to Auli from Joshimath and ski-lifts take you to the bunny and advanced slopes. Snow packing machines keep the powder fresh.
Getting there: 492 kilometres north east of Delhi, it’s a 10-hour drive on NH58 to Joshimath and then the PWD road to Auli. The nearest railhead is Haridwar (320km).
Where to stay: There are only two options here. If your budget can handle it, enjoy the views from the Cliff Top Club Resort (01389-223217).
The GMVN Skiing and Tourist Resort (223208) is more affordable
Snowfall: Most likely between late December and March
Of course Nainital (1,938m) isn’t what it used to be, but with a little bit of persistence you will successfully shake off the honeymooning hordes. From sightseeing to boating, golfing to adventure sports, from long walks and easy treks to just unwinding or introspecting – Nainital has it all. The Aerial Express ropeway to Snow View (2,270m) is one of the high points of a trip to Nainital. You’ll have a spectacular view of the Himlayan snows and the Nanda Devi peak.
Getting there: 310km by road from Delhi The nearest railhead is Kathgodam, 35 kms away. By road, Nainital is approximately an 8 hour drive from Delhi
Where to stay: There is a profusion of hotels to suit all possible budgets. The plush Manu Maharani (05942-237341) has great views.
KMVN’s Sarovar Tourist Rest House (05942-235570)
Snowfall: Unpredictable but intermittent in January through February.
Harsil (2,743m) has more or less escaped serious tourist attention. Mostly people bypass it to go onto Gangotri, which is just perfect for those of us who’d like a quiet holiday in the hills. Here is the Himalayan experience in all its glory, from beautiful rivers and streams, hot springs, waterfalls, soaring peaks and spectacular glaciers. The drive there is equally charming as the route winds past the Bhagirathi from Uttarkashi. And with Gangotri and Gaumukh fairly close by there are several options for the more restless.
Getting there: The nearest railhead is Rishikesh, 248 kms away.
Where to stay: There is a GMVN Tourist Rest House (01377-232210).
Snowfall: Starts end December and has been known to fall as late as March.
An isolated hilltop in a forgotten corner of Pithoragarh district Abbot Mount (7,000 ft) offers all the charms of cosy isolation. A small church and the (nearly) century-old property of the late Mr Abbot provide a colonial patina, while a panorama of peaks including Trishul, Nandaghunti and Nanda Devi will leave you in awe. Add a dusting of snow and wood fires at night…you get the picture.
Getting there: The nearest railhead, Kathgodam is 177km away—a 6 hour drive via Bhimtal, Dhanachuli Bend and Lohaghat. A beautiful route.
Where to stay: Snow View Cottage is the only place you’ll want to stay. The cottage sleeps eight (Delhi bookings: 011-51720224).
Snowfall: Most likely in January-February.