Having grown up in the bustling metropolitan city of Hong Kong, which happens to be surrounded by the South China Sea on three of its four sides, snow always held my fascination. The intermittent rainy days while initially did rev up my spirits did not satisfy my longing for snow. With the oncoming of winter, the Himalayan mountains will be blanketed by layers of white. While locations like Shimla, Auli, and Sonmarg are popular locations to go to in order to savor the snow, there are several lesser know destinations which are just as gorgeous or in some cases, better.
Quench your craving for snow on your visit to this hidden gem of the North-East. With the Yumthang Valley, Nathu La, and the Lachen Monastery main attractions around the area as the winters roll in, Katao becomes an irresistible thing of beauty. Packaged with steep slopes, breathtaking landscape, and iced rivers, one needs an Inner Line Permit in order to visit this Sikkimese hill station. If you have a few extra days, take a trip to the Yumesamdong or Zero Point which is an extraordinary place. It's natural beauty is sure to stop you in your tracks. Learn more about places to visit around Sikkim here.
Lava, West Bengal
Many of you might not have heard about this charming little town on the way to Kalimpong. Lava, containing an elegant monastery of Bhutanese origin, is abundant with floral and faunal life. This enchanting place reflects something out of a fairy tale when layers and layers of snow cover its vast area. One can catch an eye-popping view of snow-capped Mt. Kanchenjunga. Walk through the hushed Rishop forest covered by Pines, Orchids, and Rhondodendrons to catch this unforgettable sight. There are several things once can indulge in here such as trekking through the Rachela Pass which navigates through the Neora Valley Nature Reserve. You can learn about other activities to do around Lava here.
Dalhousie, Himachal Pradesh
Remember the lake from the camp Anjali attend in Shah Rukh Khan's iconic film, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai? Well, that gorgeous well of water sits in the heart of the tiny hill station, Dalhousie. With its meadows blanketed by snow as the winter winds start sweeping across much of Northern India, this small town is referred to as the Switzerland of India. The lake freezes during the cold season and much of greenery is enveloped by snow, but nonetheless, Dalhousie is a captivating location endeared by those who visit here. From the spectacular view at the Dainkund Peak to the Kalatop Wildlife Reserve and glistening waterfalls at Panchpula, this Himachal town is place of dreams.
Away from the popular winter locations like Auli and Nainital, Almora's sweeping landscapes and small cottages are its highlights. Close to the Nanda Devi Temple, one can take a trip here to notice the delicate carvings on this sacred place. Ranikhet and Kausani, popular hill towns from Almora, are delightful locations to catch the Himalayan mountains. Catch the setting and rising winter suns at Almora, which will leave you awestruck.
Patnitop, Jammu and Kashmir
Nestled in the Shivalik range of the Himalayas, Patnitop is a paragliding location. A treat to indulge in during the winters, you can paraglide over its surreal surroundings which happen to inhabited by pine and deodar trees while the Chenab river runs quietly along it. The Udhampur railway station is a mere hour away from this rather less popular Kashmiri hill station. If you aren't a fan of paragliding, keep an eye out for the picturesque apple orchards. While the verdant color of the trees might cease to exist during the cold season, I am certain that they will still provide for excellent backdrops for your photographs.