Planning A Quick Winter Getaway? We Tell You The 28 Best Destinations To Visit In Indiaby | November 18, 2019
December ushers in great weather and festivities. And along with it comes the much-awaited annual end-of-year break. Most workplaces are shut during the year-end, as are schools, giving people a chance to take a break from their packed schedules to spend time with their loved ones.
While it is the perfect time to cosy up at home and enjoy family time, it is also a great time for a short getaway within the country given the dip in the temperature and the nip in the air.
India is a land of gorgeous and breathtaking scapes, ones that offer unparalleled views and experiences. From the frozen snow-capped mountains of Himachal Pradesh to the backwaters of Kerala, we list the 28 best places to visit in India during winter to make some memories.
Manali, Himachal Pradesh
Surrounded by snow-capped mountains, this is where you can experience India’s serene countryside. Divided into old Manali and new Manali, skip the new with buzzing shops and locales for the scenic beauty of Old Manali. This is where the quaint cottages are at, sprinkled with cool, hipster cafes. You can also indulge in mountain adventures such as trekking, rafting and skiing. Post-November is the perfect time to visit and experience the snow.
Stay: The majestic property, The Himalayan, is a gothic castle with small luxurious cottages that offer breathtaking views of snow-clad peaks.
Dalhousie, Himachal Pradesh
Named after the British viceroy who founded it in the 1850s, Dalhousie is lush with pine-clad valleys. Tucked away in Himachal Pradesh, it turns into a winter wonderland come December, making it the perfect go-to destination for honeymooners as well as families. Replete with old-world charm, beautiful meadows, and mountainous terrain, it is reminiscent of the British countryside. Want to take it all in? Head to Dainkund View that offers panoramic views of Dalhousie.
Stay: Nestled in a picturesque sylvan setting, stay at Aamod at Dalhousie that is perched on a mountain ridge, and serves up scenic views of the snow-clad Pir Panjal range road to Khajjiar.
Shimla, Himachal Pradesh
The capital of Himachal Pradesh, Shimla is one of the most popular hill resorts in India, buzzing with vacationers looking to escape heat and city pollution all-year around. What used to be the summer capital of British India, you can make a trip to Rashtrapati Niwas, formerly known as Viceregal Lodge, the official summer residence of British viceroys to get a taste of it. You can’t miss a trip to the Jakhu temple to see the mammoth statue of Lord Hanuman. Access to it is via a cable car that offers sweeping views of the city. While here, enjoy a cup of coffee at Cafe Under Tree. If you enjoy spending time at coffee shops, also visit the Book Cafe here. Run by two ex-prisoners, the shelves are brimming with books that you can read over a cup of coffee.
Stay: Shimla is also revered for its heritage hotels. So pick a quaint hotel like the Wildflower Hall for its sweeping views.
Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh
Nestled in the mountainous Himachal Pradesh, south of Dalhousie, Dharmsala is popularly known as the home of spiritual leader the Dalai Lama. Based out of McLeodGanj, this is where the tourists and backpackers flock to. Scenic and beautiful, you can enjoy the peace and tranquil with meditation and Vipassana at Tushita Meditation Centre. Don’t forget to gorge on authentic momos sold on streetside carts strewn across town. Visit Illiterati Cafe in McLeodGanj, a hidden gem, that serves organic fare with local produce.
Stay: The perfect Himachal getaway, Blossoms Village Resort is nestled in the celestial embrace of the Dev Bhoomi.
A Himalayan hill station and ski resort in Uttarakhand, Auli is surrounded by apple orchards and oak and coniferous trees. A short cable car ride away from Joshimath, the gondola-like cabins offer awesome views of Nanda Devi, India’s second-highest peak, from atop the cable car station. If you love adventure sports like skiing and trekking, this is the perfect destination. If not, soak in the stunning natural vistas Auli has to offer.
Stay: Book your stay at Mountain Rover that offers an astonishing 180-degree view of the snow-capped Himalayan peaks.
Known popularly for the Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary, the sanctuary flaunts a wide range of animals and birds. You can spot anything from a leopard to a deer, or over 200 species of birds here. Enjoy the Himalayan panorama comprising of Kedarnath, Trishul, Nanda Devi and Panchachuli from Zero Point, Binsar’s summit. You can enjoy a day trip to Binsar and indulge in an invigorating trek, or stay back at the British-era estates that have been converted into palatial hotels.
Stay: The Kumaon located in Kasar Devi offers a private and luxurious mountain retreat in the heart of nature.
The yoga capital of the world, Rishikesh is located in the Himalayan foothills by the holy river Ganga. It is flooded with spiritual seekers who visit the city for its endless ashrams, yoga classes and meditation centres. Surrounded by forested hills and temples, the sight of sadhus in their orange garb being a regular one here along with curious tourists who want to participate in the nightly aarti that worships the River Ganga. Popular for its white-water rafting, there is also an influx of backpackers and trekkers looking to conquer the Himalayas.
Stay: Reside in the lap of luxury at the Taj Rishikesh Resort & Spa here.
A must-visit on the list of most travellers, Leh’s mountainous landscape is dotted with whitewashed houses, beautiful monasteries and Buddhist sites such as the Leh Palace, modelled after Tibet’s Potala Palace: the Dalai Lama’s former home. With picturesque location, serene lanes and bustling markets, Leh is a favourite, especially among trekkers. When here, visit the breathtaking Pangong Lake, Tso Moririr and Zanskar Valley: they offer scenic views that are unparalleled along with tranquillity. For trekkers, embark on the Chadar Trek expedition. One of the most unique and challenging treks in the country, it takes you across the frozen Zanskar River. The best time to visit is January-February.
Stay: For a glamping experience, book a tent at The Chamba Camp Thiskey, a luxury camp in Leh for a unique, one-of-a-kind experience.
Avoid the bustling North Goa for a serene experience in South Goa: the more peaceful and scenic half of the state. With fewer bars, nightclubs and well, tourists, the beaches here are cleaner and secluded, perfect for a romantic getaway or a quiet holiday. Palolem is one of Goa’s most picture-perfect beaches where one can indulge in swimming, kayaking and paddleboarding.
Stay: These beaches are lined with luxurious hotels and boutique, so pick one for a luxe stay. We recommend The Leela Goa, Riverside Luxury Beach Resort.
If you seek a culturally and historically rich experience, visit Mylapore in Chennai. With a history that predates Chennai, Mylapore has been a tourist favourite for decades. With several temples to explore, you can temple-hop here, taking breaks to devour the authentic and traditional delicacies of the South. A must-visit here: The Kapaleeswarar Temple, an architectural marvel, the Santhome Basilica for its grandeur and historical importance, and Luz corner in Mylapore, the local shopping centre. Don’t forget to get a flavour of Mylapore, quite literally, through their food. Visit the Rayar Mess or the Mylai Karpagambal Mess for the vegetarian fare served on banana leaves.
Stay: A short 25-minute ride away from the city, you can stay in at The Leela Palace Chennai.
Pondicherry, Tamil Nadu
Puducherry is the centre of culture, colonial architecture in bright and vivid colours, art galleries, cute cafes, and antique shops, along with the famed Auroville of course. While the latter draws dozens of visitors that are spiritual, the city is the haunt of the creatives such as artists and designers.
Stay: When there, pick an address in the French Quarter. The gorgeous and canary-coloured Palais de Mahe has majestic courtyards, deep verandahs, and a gorgeous, extremely 'grammable pool.
Coonoor, Tamil Nadu
Give the more popular Ooty a miss and head to quaint Coonoor, one of the three Nilgiri hill stations. Smaller and quieter, you can hike, visit tea plantations, and enjoy the beautiful scenery. Take a walk in Sim’s Park: a public garden with a variety of plants or head to Dolphin's nose, a vantage point with stunning views of Catherine Falls.
Stay: Stay at the gorgeous Albany Cottage by Isparva that is perched amidst lush greens. Super charming with its old-world style and furnishing that complements, the property is like a luxurious home away from home.
Radhanagar Beach, Havelock Island
Fairly unexplored but on its way to popularity, Radhanagar beach has to be one of India’s most fabulous beaches. With pristine powdery white sand and clear azure waters, the beach is fringed by lush greens. Avoid the tourists by heading there in the early hours, or head there to enjoy a beautiful laidback sunset.
Stay: Pick one of the few exclusive resorts here for your stay. We recommend the Taj Exotica Resort & Spa, Andamans.
Neil Island, Andaman
Not as popular a choice as Havelock Island, Neil Island maintains its own charm. The beautiful and tranquil beaches here are dotted with coconut palms and are surrounded by tropical rice paddies and fruit plantations. Head to Neil Kendra, the main bazaar for a mellow vibe. You can also cycle along the flat road to get a better insight into the small island and life here.
Stay: Stay at the Sea Shell Samssara on Neil Island for a combination of greenery and a beautiful beach.
Kerala has been touted as one of the destinations to travel to in 2020. Beat the crowd and head there this year-end to enjoy the coastal strip and the beautiful beaches it has to offer. Kovalam is a fairly popular beach for adventure sports. There is a surf club that you can head to, or simply stay in one of the charming guesthouses and luxe hotels that surround the beach.
Stay: Our pick? The Leela Raviz Kovalam. They also have a flourishing yoga and Ayurveda scene, where you can indulge your spiritual side to enjoy peace and tranquillity.
Munnar is South India’s largest tea-growing region, thick with lush tea plantations. If you are a tea lover, enjoy several cups of piping tea in the cool temperatures. You can visit a local tea factory for a guided tour. We suggest the Lockhart tea factory. You can learn how tea is processed from picking to export. Visit here to be engulfed by the greens of the plantations.
Stay: Book your stay at Kites Resort that offers stunning views of the tea plantations and estates.
A scenic six-hour drive from the city, Coorg is the perfect destination to hit during the winter. It is pleasant and refreshing surrounded by emerald landscapes comprising coffee plantations. If you find yourself in Coorg, you can indulge in some adventure sports like trekking or you can always be lazy and birdwatch.
Stay: Book yourself a room at Evolve Back for a luxurious experience. Ensconced in the cocooned comforts of a lush 300-acre plantation paradise, the resort is perfumed with the subtly intoxicating aroma of coffee and spice.
Wayanad is one of the most beautiful parts of Kerala. Its scenic and diverse landscape comprises of mountains, rice paddies, bamboo trees as well coffee plantations. Head here for elephant spotting or to enjoy the beautiful landscape. A popular holiday choice for Indians and international travellers alike, Wayanad is fairly untouched and unspoilt.
Stay: Experience an exquisite jungle experience here at the Vythiri Resort in the midst of the tropical rainforest. Choose their exotic treehouse for an unparalleled experience.
Take an expedition to the ancient village of Hampi in Karnataka that is dotted with numerous ruined temples: perfect for ones that want a vacation with a side of history. Heaps of giant boulders span over kilometres interspersed with palm groves, banana plantations and paddy fields.
Stay: Stay at the Evolve Back Kamalapura Palace. The hotel provides views of stunning rugged forests and boulders forming its backdrop.
Known for historic attractions such as Hawa Mahal, Jantar Mantar, and the mammoth City Palace, the city’s Amber Fort remains the main tourist attraction here. The city is a mix of old-world charm with the new seen in the charming boutiques and quaint cafes lining the city. A centre for arts and culture, you can get your hands on local art and handicrafts at the local bazaars and markets, as well as the upscale designer shops.
Stay: Give the palaces a miss for a boutique hotel in Jaipur that offers you an authentic experience. Ikaki Niwas is a converted home with typical art and decor of local homes and offers organic food.
Chock-full with grand palaces, temples and ornate havelis, Udaipur is a charming city also known as ‘lake city’ because of Lake Pichola and several other artificial lakes. You can enjoy serene boat rides at the many lakes, stay at heritage hotels for old-world charm and get lost in the maze of bazaars and markets selling beautiful arts and crafts.
Stay: Enjoy your stay at the Amet Haveli that was designed along the lines of the Mughal gardens of the Agra Fort and the Red Fort in New Delhi. You can savour a romantic dining experience at Ambrai, which overlooks Lake Pichola.
Rann of Kutch, Gujarat
The largest salt desert in India, the Rann of Kutch is an enormous stretch of packed white salt. Divided into the Great Rann and the Little Rann, each region has something distinct to offer. While the former is known for its spectacular landscapes, Little Rann is known for its exotic wildlife. Encountering the harshest of climates, the best time to visit the Rann of Kutch is winter. You can also experience the Rann Utsav that captures the beauty of Kutch. Currently ongoing, you can book your experience here.
Stay: If you visit during the Rann Utsav, the website provides packages for a stay as well and guided tours of the region.
The largest city in Northeast, Guwahati is like any other cosmopolitan city on the surface of it. But it is when you start exploring the older areas along the river Brahmaputra is when the character of the city is palpable: the colonial mansions, the traditional houses and the many temples. Also known as ‘temple city’, Guwahati is packed with holy sites like the hilltop Kamakhya temple, Navagraha temple, and the famed Umananda temple that stands on Peacock island in the river.
Stay: Ideally located, stay at the Vivanta Guwahati when here.
Cherrapunji is famed for being the wettest place on earth and for its immense monsoon rainfall. While it doesn’t have the same glory today, it is still sprinkled with lush forests, plunging valleys and waterfalls. Most people visit Cherrapunji during the monsoon to witness the rainfall and the cool air from May to August, but December is a great time to visit as well.
Stay: If you are planning a trip here, book a room at the Polo Orchid Resort.
Nongriat is a village in Meghalaya that is best known for its living root bridges. These are formed from rubber-fig roots that are scattered around all over, with a famous double-decker root bridge in Nongriat, Umshiang, being one of the must-visit attractions. Experience the Nohkalikai fall, and enjoy the water falling from a height of 1100 ft, making it the highest plunge waterfall in India. Visit the Rainbow Waterfalls along with natural lagoons and pristine pools that are aplenty at Nongriat.
Stay: In the middle of nowhere, stay at Serene Homestay: a popular choice for most tourists.
The Umngot river here is revered for its crystal clear water and is a great tourist attraction in Meghalaya. Enjoy a scenic boat ride as you float over the river with views of the surrounding greenery and the Dawki bridge that is suspended over the river. Summer is a great time to visit, as is the winter when the temperatures go as low as 16 degrees.
Stay: The Ri Kynjai Resort overlooking the Umiam Lake offers sweeping views of Shillong. Dawki is a short 2-hour drive away from the main city: the perfect day trip.
The home of Kaziranga National Park, it is famed for the one-horned rhinoceros. With vast grasslands, wetlands and forests, you can head here for a safari to spot the rhinos grazing the grass away. While here, you can also spot elephants and perhaps a tiger if you get lucky. The premises are also visited by Ganges River dolphins as well as rare migratory birds.
Stay: Infinity Resort Kaziranga is perfect for a zen stay in the midst of nature.
The capital of Nagaland, Kohima is smattered with green hilltops. With warm and friendly people, Kohima draws you away from the hustle and bustle of the bigger cities. December is a great time to visit for its festive cheer. The town is decorated with Christmas lighting and the town has a Christmas bazaar and carnival where everyone gathers. Here, you can sample the Naga tribal foods such as frogs, silkworms, snails and dried fish. You can wander the peaceful city in your free time and enjoy its serenity, or if you are a history buff, visit the State Museum or the Kohima War Cemetery.
Stay: If you are travelling between November 29-December 12, stay at the travelling and very luxurious Kohima Camp Nagaland. It is timed to coincide with the Hornbill festival – an absolute explosion of sights, sounds, tastes and experiences from all over Nagaland.