“Travelling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” – Ibn Battuta
Travelling has always been something that has evolved me as a person time to time. Every few months I make sure I take that trip that I very much need to refuel my energy levels and fill me with a life enhancing positive mindset.
So this time as I sat down to plan a trip with my 4 buddies, I had the drastically novel idea of GOOGLING the top destinations to visit in India during the winter months (Genius,eh?). And guess what? google actually did surprise us, coming up with the top result of a place called ‘AULI’ in Uttarakhand. All my buddies (including me) were surprised as we had never heard of this place of which fellow travellers spoke so highly of. So we looked no further and finalised our destination. Little did we know that we were set to experience one of the most impactful and emotionally stirring trips of our lives.
How To Reach
By Air – The nearest airport is Dehradun, about 298 km away. Rishikesh, about 235 km away, is the nearest railhead.
By Road – Regular road services are available from Delhi, Dehradun, Rishikesh and Haridwar to Joshimath, 16 km away. From Joshimath one can hire jeeps to Auli. I highly recommend the scenic cable car ride as it is India’s highest set ride and the sheer beauty you witness whilst travelling uphill is simply stunning. One can also trek the five kilometers between Joshimath and Auli (not recommended in winters). For further information, contact the GMVN office at Rajpur Road, Dehradun or the UP tourism offices located all over the country.
We stayed at a hotel named ‘The CliffTop Resort’ which is one of the only 2 stay options in Auli. The view from the hotel is spectacular. Sleeping and waking up to a view of the snow capped mountains is more than you can ever ask for.
Auli is one of the less explored hill stations.
Located in the cradle of snow-capped mountains, Auli is one of the very few places in India where skiing is a major pastime. Gradually Auli is growing like other hill stations in India. The bitter cold winds, the vast snow-covered landscape, the sylvan mountains, all add up to make Auli a skier’s paradise. Representing man’s constant endeavor to triumph over nature, Auli proves to be an ideal locale for the daring.
There are many trekking trips that are available to the visitors along with skiing lessons and how can I leave out the most relished part of our trip: ‘MAGGIIIII’ (really really spicy)
If you enjoy something more relaxed, a calm walk by the frozen lake is the best way to unwind and connect to the nature.
(PS: DO NOT forget to carry sturdy boots and a suitcase filled with thermals and overcoats to keep you warm)
The temperatures can be brutally low, falling as low as -13 degrees at night.
Best Time To Visit
If one is an adventure freak, the best time to visit Auli is during the winter season. The period from late November to late March is generally considered ideal for skiers. As the winters set in, the mountains seem to extend to the firmament with arms of snow. From December to March, the Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam conducts 7-day and 15-day courses for both amateurs and advanced learners.
Skiers are naturally provided with clean stretches of 10-20 km of snow-covered mountain slopes. Besides, there is a descent of 500 m from the ridge over a stretch of 3 km. The forests on the slopes also seem to help the skiers by reducing the wind velocity. In the months of February and March, Auli often hosts the National Winter Games. In a planned move, the Government and local authorities have involved the local Garhwali people to explore the slopes that rightfully belong to them.
By eight in the morning, one can see the first of the skiers and other adventure seekers. Until about four o’clock in the evening, when it gets chilly, cold and dark, the skiers make most of the slopes. For the best part of the winter season, Auli is blessed by an unusually large number of sunny days, but there are times when it snows heavily. In the evenings, the activity shifts from the slopes to the bukhari-warmed huts and resorts (bukhari: a quaint, wooden stove). People then generally pass their time listening to folklore and reveling in the local music of Garhwal in the lamp-lit rooms or besides the bonfires.
Nights spent in awe of the beautiful wonders of nature that surrounded us and the feeling of sheer gratitude for the gift of life had me in tears as I played my favourite Chris Martin tracks lying in snow gazing at the stars. (Please do not try it, I almost got myself a frostbite, haha!!)
A trip to Auli will definitely have you love nature so much more and appreciate the marvels of the beautiful world we live in. It is one that will be etched in my heart forever. It hit a chord which had been untouched all my life. I hope it enriches your life too. Give it a go, thou shalt not regret it 🙂