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Winter in Paradise

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As the landscapes transform during the winter offering a melange of experiences,
Jammu and Kashmir witnesses a large footfall of tourists from across the world

Often referred to as ‘India’s own Switzerland’ and ‘Paradise on Earth’, Jammu and Kashmir is widely popular for winter tourism. The state has four distinct seasons, each with its own peculiar character and distinctive charm. However, the state witnesses significant tourist footfalls during winter, due to the offerings unique to Jammu and Kashmir. Even though the snow-clad trees have a bare look and the beauty of the coloured gardens no longer catches the eye, there is an altogether different charm in the surroundings. The snow covered landscape is a visual treat as well.

Winter in the state ranges from December to the beginning of March, which presents the state capital Srinagar in another mood. The state’s tourism department has been continuously involved in promoting tourism through various activities and infrastructure development.

Recently, the Jammu and Kashmir government has commenced a chopper service between Jammu and Doda district, which will help promote tourism and provide an alternative means to communicate between the two districts during the winter season, when parts of the region remain cut off. Also recently, in order to promote winter tourism through activities, the state government organised a winter carnival in Bhaderwah town.

Jammu and Kashmir offers a plethora of winter excursions such as heli skiing, moto skiing, snow cycling and more. Skiing is one of the prime attractions in Kashmir and is apt for adventure seekers. A skiing hotspot, Gulmarg is accredited as the highest cable car enabled ski resorts in the world mainly due to a Gondola Cable Car Lift that was set up here. The second section of this cable car takes visitors up to a height of about 4,000 m above the snow level from where they can enjoy a five-km downhill ski run. Over the years, heli skiing has also gained popularity among tourists visiting the Jammu and Kashmir in the winter season. Heli skiing in Gulmarg usually from atop Sunshine Peak where one can ski down to Drang. Skiers in Gulmarg have more options like tree skiing and off piste skiing in Gulmarg which goes down from Gulmarg to Baba Rishi.

Located in the Lower Himalayan range, 112 km from Jammu, Patnitop is another beautiful winter destination in the state. The lush wooded pine forest in Patnitop offers opportunities for long and short treks to the nearby mountains. For those looking for snowboarding, September to December is the best time to visit.

In the Ladakh region, Zanskar is the most isolated of all the trans-Himalayan valleys, yet an ideal destination for winter tourism. The Penzi -la pass is a picturesque tableland surrounded by snow-covered peaks. As the Zanskar road winds down the steep slopes of Penzi-la to the head of the Stod valley, the Drang-Drung glacier looms into full view. A long and winding river of ice and snow, Drang-Drung is one of the largest glaciers in Ladakh, outside the Siachen formation. The Himalayan landscape and the lifestyles of the inhabitants attract many tourists to the hidden Zanskar.