All across the world, Christmas is signified by freshly dry-cleaned overcoats, snowy evenings, carols, and wishful thinking about Santa Claus braving the snowstorm to come to deliver a present at midnight. While it's true that most of the urban cities in India rarely ever experience snowfall, the Christmas spirit is by no means, waned. Lights illuminate the cities, thousands of people are on the streets having fun and frolicking with their loved ones, gifts are exchanged and the gala festive spirit takes over.
Up North, there are several places in India that, by this time of the year, are covered by a thick sheet of white snow. Days get remarkably shorter and the nights are cold enough to make your teeth clatter. It is a time of the year when schools, colleges, and workplaces are on vacation. There are many people who may choose to spend some time away from the hustle and bustle of the city during the end-of-year festive season. They would rather let the ambient silence of snow-capped pine trees whisk them away or enjoy a tranquil beach while sipping on a cocktail. So if that’s something you’re looking for, read on to discover Indian cities and villages (some unheard of, some cliche) where you can spend the perfect Christmas with your loved ones.
When one thinks of snow, Shimla is typically the first place that comes to mind. For those who’ve grown up living in Shimla, you know exactly what I’m talking about. For those who haven’t, this might just be the opportunity to find out. Complete with red shutters, a wooden exterior, and a sloping roof, Meena Bagh Resorts’ Shimla is the perfect getaway for Christmas. This four bedroom cottage houses 15 people and also gives you the option of opting for their cosier Pahari Cabin that has three rooms and can house upto six people. And not only is it eco-friendly, but also pet-friendly so you don’t have to leave your furry friends behind this holiday season.
Visit the property’s Airbnb page or Meena Bagh Resorts’ website for more information.
Located two hours from Shimla, Chail is known for its lush forests of Deodar and the fresh mountain scenery. The Chail Palace Hotel was once the summer getaway of the Maharaja of Patiala, Bhupinder Singh who sought refuge here after being expelled from Shimla by Lord Kitchner. Today it’s owned by the Himachal Tourism Board who converted the luxurious estate into a full-time hotel, opened to the public. Apart from the luxurious hotel, Chail also has plenty of activities to fill your day including a visit to the School Play Ground, the highest Cricket ground on the planet at 7,500 feet, a meal at Sadhupul Lake, where tables are placed in water so you can dip your feet in the cool waters as you enjoy lunch, and Chail’s sanctuary for some time with nature.
You can find more information about the place here.
Think apple orchards, chirping birds, lush forests, and of course, a cosy cottage with a roaring bonfire to keep you warm. Right up amongst the hills in Old Manali is a luxurious wooden cottage fitted out with all the amenities one would need (including Wi-Fi). While this spot makes for an ideal family vacation, the cottage also makes for quite the romantic getaway. For those who’d like to get away from the city life and just unwind, the cottage has several board games, books and comics to keep you occupied. Plus, with dedicated staff and an in-house food menu, you’ll never have to venture too far — unless of course, you want to.
If you’re interested in making a booking, click here.
A remote village in the Kumaon Hills houses this property built for those looking for some serious pampering. With a gym, pool table and an outdoor seating area with a gorgeous view, it seems unlikely you’re going to want to get out of this tastefully done up homestay once you’ve stepped in. There are several Kumaod destinations including Naukuchiyatal, Mukteshwar and Sitla in the vicinity though, and local taxis can be arranged for comfortable day trips at very reasonable rates — ask, and you shall receive.
For more information, click here.
Located next to the Tirthan valley and in the ecozone of the Great Himalayan National Park For A While was made for nature lovers and outdoor adventurers. The proximity to the valley means this homestay is perfect for both trout fishing as well as fly fishing for the more experienced fisher. There are also 200 species of birds in the area, so bring your binoculars! And if you just like a good ol’ walk in nature there are a bevy of trails of varying difficulty. For A While also boasts a ceramic art centre for those who want to learn a bit of pottery. Otherwise, guests can relax on the balcony and enjoy wonderful meals in this sanctuary of nature.
Pristine forests and snow-capped peaks, there’s no place like Leh to get the most cultural and chilly experience. And make sure to stay at Woodyvu Stok House in Stok Village, about 12 kilometres away from the main town of Leh. Overlooking the summit of Mt. Stok on one side and the monastery on the other, this luxurious abode is perfect for a tranquil getaway. All the rooms are decorated in bright colours inspired by the vivacity of the mountains. Being in a village, you also get the opportunities to sample authentic cuisine and learn about the ways of the village.
For more information, click here.
VII. A Remote Irish Pub In The Heart Of The Himalayas
Namche Bazaar (3440 m) is the unofficial capital of the Khumbu region of Nepal. It is a major stop-off point in the heart of the Himalayas for trekkers and climbers heading for Mount Everest base camp. There are many gorgeous treks up amidst a picturesque scenario, markets selling Tibetan wares, and cozy accommodations. Be sure to visit the hottest spot in town, the Irish Pub known as 'the Gateway to Everest', which is the highest Irish pub in the world. One can hear and exchange several stories of travel and adventure, sipping on the finest Irish spirits such as Jameson, Erin’s Rock, St Brendan's, Baileys, and many more. Above the Irish Pub’s doors, a sign proudly hangs that says “There are no strangers here, only friends.”
VIII. The Silchar Tea Plantations
Silchar is a small town in the Chachar district in Assam. At first glance, the place might look mundane compared to other more popular and attractive tourist destinations in our list but the place holds fantastic sights, especially if you are a tea lover. There are beautiful tea estates where you can stay and enjoy a cozy winter as the mercury level drops quite low. Be sure to take a guided tour along the famous tea estates and plantations such as Rose Kandy, Koorg Estate, and many more as you discover the workings of their factories, and plantations and sip on some of the best tea—yellow tea, white tea, green tea or CTC, you name it. Aside from the plantations you can visit the marketplaces and buy traditional Manipuri and Assamese clothing or try the fresh fish caught from the Barak river at the local eateries.
IX. Pulga Village In Sosan, Himachal Pradesh
Step away from the din of the city into the beautiful village of Pulga in Sosan, Himachal Pradesh. During winter there are very few travelers in this region and you can experience snowfall in the lap of the mountains. Pulga can be reached by trekking from Tosh. One of the best places to stay there is a homestay called Paravati Tales, named after the Parvati River that flows through the region. It has a restaurant, bar, shared lounge, and garden. Boasting family rooms, this property also provides guests with a sun terrace. Taste authentic Himachali food, set up a campfire, and spend quality time with your loved ones in this lesser-known gem of a place.
X. A Pinewood Homestay At The Heart Of Nainital
At the foothills of the Kumaon ranges, Nainital is the prized treasure of Uttarakhand. With thousands of travelers visiting the place each year, Nainital is immensely popular among people of all ages. One can spend some quality time by the Naini lake with their loved ones or explore the mall road of the small hill station. Nainital has a little something for everyone with a plethora of sightseeing spots. Being a popular travel destination, it has many wonderful places to stay but one that deserves special mention is Avaas Homestay. It is located amid the mesmerizing beauty of Ramgarh. The cottages and bungalows are built out of pinewood with exquisite design. Enjoy authentic meals by the talented cooks of the estate as you soak in the beauty of Nainital.
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