Winters knocking on the door. Holiday destinations are on your calendar’s radar. Here are a few destinations you can fly to in India for this winter.
Gulmarg – Kashmir
The paradise in India. Popular for its excellent gradients and snow peaks for skiing in India. Gulmarg is nestled in the Pir Panjal range which is a cup-shaped valley. It is one of the most visited destinations in India. Best to visit during October till Jan for an amazing snow experience. With Srinagar as a base, Gulmarg can be reached via taxi. Make sure you take gumboots to walk in the snow.
The nearest railway station is Jammu
Srinagar is the closest airport – 35km
Auli – Uttarakhand
For ski lovers and thrill-seekers, Auli is one of the best destinations in India to visit during winters. It is Switzerland of India dotted with apple orchards, pine trees, and numerous treks for skiing in the Garhwal region. Auli is a hill town dating back to the 8th century, hence you may witness vivid locals and culture too. The Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam Limited (GMVL) runs a ski resort and a ski rental shop. Located at 2800 meters above sea levels, it is home to the mountain ranges of Nanda Devi, Mana Parvat and Kamat Kamet.
Auli can be reached via taxi and buses from Delhi, Rishikesh or can take a shared taxi from Joshimath.
The cable car ride is also available from Joshimath which is around 700 rupees per person.
Closest airport – Jolly Grant airport of Dehradun.
Nearest railway station – Haridwar is the closest, but Dehradun and Rishikesh are also connected via train.
Coonoor and Ooty
Coonoor nestled in southern India is a beautiful hill station in Tamil Nadu. It is in the Nilgiri hills and the second largest hill station in western ghats. Just around 19 km is Ooty, another cute little town in Tamil Nadu. One can explore both in winters. Both the hill stations are blessed to have chilly and cosy weather round the year. These two are perfect spots for staycations.
Via road, it can be reached through Bangalore, Coimbatore, and Kochi. Road connectivity is excellent. Driving Enthusiasts as self-drive. State Transport buses also ply.
Nearest airport – Coimbatore
Nearest railway station – Mettupalayam which is 45 km
Mussoorie – Dehradun
Named as queen of hill stations – Mussoorie is situated on the backdrop of the Shivalik range of the Himalayas and the Doon valley. It stands gorgeously at the altitude of 7000ft above sea level. Best to visit in winters and throughout the year. Mussoorie was once the British summer capital. The British remnants can be seen in the city in the archaic architecture of the hotels and churches. The Mall road gives off a distinct colonial vibe. Another major attraction is Gun hill. Landour, along with Mussoorie, Barlowganj and Jharipani together form the greater Mussoorie, these are the adjoining hill stations. With a lot of waterfalls, the town of Dhanaulti in the vicinity and the remains of colonial architecture, Mussoorie has everything to make a memorable vacation.
Mussoorie is well connected via roads, to Delhi, Dehradun.
The nearest railway station is Dehradun 68 km away.
The closest airport is Jolly Grant airport Dehradun.
Mussoorie Chamba Highway is the best for driving enthusiast.
Shillong also acts as the gateway to Meghalaya, the state famous for heavy rainfall, caves, tallest waterfalls, beautiful landscapes and amazing people and their culture. Shillong is also fast emerging as an education hub for the entire northeastern region. Ward’s Lake is surrounded by walking trails. Don Bosco Centre for Indigenous Cultures features displays on the region’s native people. One can find descendants of the Khyrim, Mylliem, Maharam, Mallaisohmat, Bhowal and Langrim tribes. Popularly known as Scotland of India. It derives its name from Lei Shillong, an idol worshipped at the Shillong Peak.
The nearest railhead to Shillong is Guwahati
Shillong airport at Umroi connects only to Kolkata, else Guwahati is the nearest major airport.
Shillong is connected to Guwahati by NH 40 and the rest of the North-East by NH 44.
Coorg – Karnataka
This town is popularly known as Scotland of India. The Kodavas, the local clan are known for their martial arts and especially for their keen hospitality. It is adorned by misty landscapes and is popular as a coffee producing hill station. Coorg is officially known as Kodagu. Madikeri is the region’s centre point with all transportation for getting around starting from here.
Closest Airport – Mangalore, 152km
Coorg has its own railway station
One nearest is Mysore – 120km
You can catch deluxe KSRTC buses to Coorg from Mangalore, Bengaluru and Mysore.
One of the most awaited festivals in the colourful state of Gujarat is Navratri. Celebrated on the first nine days of Ashwin month, devotees keep fast for 9 days and worship Maa Shakti. In the evening, an earthen pot with holes and diyas inside, also known as “Garbi”, is lighted and women perform arti with it.
During Navratri, Garba dance and Dandiya Raas are popular forms of dances performed by both men and women, wearing their traditional dresses.
Navratri Celebration in West Bengal, Odisha, Assam &Bihar
In the eastern part of India, in the states of West Bengal, Odisha, Assam, Bihar, Navratri is celebrated as Durga Puja and it is observed in the last four days of Navratri. These days are referred to as Saptami, Ashthami, Navami and Dashami. Durga Puja is the main festival of the people of West Bengal.
Durga Puja is celebrated with great pomp and glitter in various parts of the states in big pandals, where large sized idols of Goddess Durga on her lion, demon Mahishasur, Lord Ganesha, Kartikeya and Goddess Laxmi and Saraswati are erected. Men and women come wearing their best colourful dresses. It is a very common sight to see Bengali women wearing their traditional red saree, decked up completely.
The sounds of Dhol, Dhak, Dhunuchi nachh, the fragrance of agarbattis fill the air with freshness and purity. The celebrations of Durga Puja in West Bengal should be “must-watch” for everyone once in his lifetime.
Navratri Celebration in Tamil Nadu
Navratri is also celebrated in Tamil Nadu as a religious celebration to seek the blessings of Goddess Durga, Goddess Lakshmi and Goddess Saraswati in the nine special nights. These three goddesses are worshipped for three days each. Friends, relatives and neighbours are invited and clothes, jewelleries, sweets and other gifts are exchanged among them.
One interesting feature as a part of the celebration is the decoration of the “Kolu” which is actually a staircase having 9 stairs, representing the 9 nights and each stair is decorated with beautiful dolls, and idols of gods and goddesses. It is said that the dolls that are used are handed over from generation to generation.
Navratri Celebration Andhra Pradesh
The “Kolu” celebration of Navratri in Tamil Nadu is celebrated as “Batukamma Panduga” in Andhra Pradesh, which means “Come Alive Mother Goddess”. The nine nights are dedicated to Goddess Shakti. Women make a beautiful flower stack known as “Batukamma”, which is arranged with seasonal flowers.
Women wear new saree and jewellery, perform puja in front of the Batukamma for 9 days and then on the last day they set afloat their Batukammas in a lake or any other water body.
Navratri Celebration in Kerala
In Kerala, Navratri is celebrated in the last three days and Keralites give importance to learning during these three days. They place books and musical instruments in front of Ma Saraswati’s idol on Ashtami, and worship the books and Ma Saraswati till Dashami. On Dashami, the books are taken out for reading.
Navratri Celebration in Karnataka
It is a strange fact that even today people in Karnataka celebrate the 9 nights of Navratri in the same manner as was celebrated way back in 1610 by the great Vijayanagara dynasty. Navratri is known as “Naada Habba” in Karnataka.
The rituals include elephants’ procession on the streets, including fairs and exhibitions of handicrafts and artifacts.
Navratri Celebration in Maharashtra
The celebrations are similar to Gujarat. Navratri in Maharashtra implies new beginnings. Hence, purchasing of a home or a car or new business deals or engagement is very common during this time. Married women invite their female friends, put haldi and kumkum on their foreheads and gift them with a coconut, beetle leaves and beetle nuts.
This gesture is referred to as “Saumangalyam” which means remaining the wife of her husband till her death. Each and every locality in Maharashtra has its own garba and dandiya nights celebrations.
Navratri Celebration in Himachal Pradesh
For the Hindus in Himachal Pradesh, Navratri is a great celebration. Here, the celebration starts on the tenth day of Navratri when the festival ends in other states.
People celebrate the tenth day, also known as “Kullu Dussehra” as the day of return of Lord Rama to Ayodhya. On this day, the idols from the temples are taken out in processions.
During the Navratri festival, the devotees visit various temples in Kangra, Una and Bilaspur districts of himachal Pradesh to pay worship to Goddess Durga.
Navratri Celebration in Punjab
In Punjab, the people keep fast on the first 7 days of Navratri and end their fast on Ashthami or Navami by worshipping 9 little girls and a boy, which is known as “Kanjika”. The Punjabis organize jagratas where they keep awake the whole night and worship Goddess Shakti.
There is a piece in me that like to tenderly imagine my maverick and seditious soul. But, precisely, I love to have a picky and cosy relationship with my soul that can rub up against a little bit, putting me alive.