Tag Archives: Auli

5 Most Beautiful Himalayan Towns

Originally posted on AsiaRooms

No matter how much I write about this beloved destination that I adore, there’ll never be enough to express the awe inspiring, breath taking, beautiful wonders that the Himalayan Mountain Range brings to all! While trekking within the Himalayas during the summer is quite a popular thing to do, there are many other ways to enjoy the magical spirit of the mountains – especially if you aren’t an ardent mountaineer, a huge trekking enthusiast or an avid lover of walking across the mountains. For starters you could try experiencing the beautiful serene towns that lie at the foothills of the Himalayan Mountains, and these five are my recommended.

1. Joshimath, Uttarakhand

The city of Joshimath serves as a good base to explore the mountains and smaller towns across the North Western Himalayas in the Garwhal and Kumaon reigons. If you drive 250km southwest, you will get to the holy town of Rishikesh and Haridwar, a glimpse of the beautiful escapades in the Uttarakhand Himalayas. From this place you can drive up to Govind Ghat, which is the base for the trek to the Valley of Flowers National Park. 20km away is also the beautiful skiing resort in Auli. Auli is known to be a skiing paradise in the Kumaon Himalayas. If not for skiing in the winters, this place makes for spectacular views and a ride on the cable car ropeway is quite fun even during summers. With a sneak peek towards many beautiful regions within North Western Himalayas, this is the perfect spot to snuggle up and relax if you want a peaceful retreat away from the madness of cities.

Auli is a famous skiing resort in the Kumaon Himalayas

2. Leh, Jammu and Kashmir

Leh was the capital of the Himalayan kingdom of Ladakh. It now forms part of the Leh district in the Indian State of Jammu and Kashmir. Though this is a huge stretch and has beauty varied with geographical diversities, it is more popular for its roadtrips on high altitudes, and the view of the expansive and different landscapes it has to offer. More importantly, the lakes and waters of this place make for magnificent viewings. On one side, there’s Tso Moriri and on the other side by the India-China border is Pangong Tso Lake. If it were up to me, I’d just go and settle down in this beautiful haven. With beautiful monasteries, the highest motorable road and the cold deserts of the Nubra Valley, Leh has a lot to offer and makes for a great stay especially during the months of July to October. What’s more, there are direct flights to Leh from Delhi, making the commute a lot easier.

With the view of the Himalayas in the backdrop, Tso Moriri Lake is a magnificent stopover

3. Kaza, Himachal Pradesh

Situated in the Western Himalayas, Kaza is the gateway to the forbidden valley of the Great Western Himalayan Kingdom, known as the Spiti Valley. While getting there is an arduous task without any direct flights and the roads being one of the most dangerous in the world, once you’re there, the experience makes up for all the bumps and backaches you’ll incur on your journey there. Check out the views across Rohtang Pass and the short hike to Chandertaal Lake, and yes, once you’re there, the opportunity to visit one of the coldest villages in the world, Kibber, at 14,200 feet is the most blissful experience you’ll ever discover. One of the most spectacular views is of a gorgeous tall statue of Buddha sitting in the middle of nowhere, looking out onto the majestic mountains. The feeling you get out there is nothing short of magical.

Take a short hike to Chandertaal Lake before arriving in Kibber, one of the coldest villages in the world

4. Darjeeling, West Bengal

Known as the Queen of Hill Stations, Darjeeling is one of the prettiest towns in the North East Himalayas. As soon as you near the town, you’ll start to see views of the Kanchenjunga Peak. But there’s more to this place than just that view which almost sits in the background no matter which part of town you’re in. Darjeeling has some amazing restaurants, beautiful vantage points and a splendid ambience with its rustic Victorian legacy having served as a British hill station in the past. Wake up early at 4am for a visit to Tiger Point for a stupendous view of the sunrise. On your way back down, you can visit theGhoom Monastery, Japanese Pagoda which has some really amazing statues of Buddha in different poses.  Darjeeling is also famous for its teas, so stop by for a cup of Darjeeling tea as you view the sunset on the terrace of the century-old Keventer’s Café.

Darjeeling was a British hill station that is popular for its tea plantations

5. Mcleod Ganj, Himachal Pradesh

If you want to experience cool weather all year round, complete with chilly breezes, magical misty roads and some serious time and space to think about the meaning of life, then you’d want want to head to Mcleod Ganj. Located in the suburb of Dharamshala, it is also home to the Dalai Lama’s Temple known as Tsuglagkhang Temple. The town is also nicknamed “Little Lhasa” due to the large population of Tibetans living there. For me, a visit to the temple during prayer times was an enchanting experience. Whether you believe in any form of God or not, the spiritual journey is something that you’ll cherish for quite a while. The town centre gets crowded due to the hoards of tourists that come from all over the world to catch a glimpse of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, but you can quietly slip away to a small part of town called Naddi. It’s quiet, beautiful and serene here. Either way, don’t miss Mcleod Ganj, especially if you’re in Manali or New Delhi.

McLeod Ganj is home to the popular Tsuglagkhang Temple, known as the Dalai Lama Temple

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Skiing Galore – My fav picks…

A few months back I happened to go to a really amazing destination in North India, Uttarakhand. It was called Auli. Yes, this was during my visit to the Valley of Flowers. While I did write my experience about the place  I also learned that this is a perfect Skiing destination in India. Since that day, Skiing is something on my mind and I’m pretty sure I’d really enjoy it if I get to do it at least once in my life. So, Auli is certainly a place that I’d love to go to Ski in India.  At an altitude of 2915 mts-3049 mts, this is real joy for those interested in Skiing.

Auli Ropeway

Auli Ropeway

Many of you might not know, but is an important ski destination in the Himalayas of Uttarakhand. Auli is known as ‘Bugyal’ in the regional language which means meadow. In fact some French and Australian experts consider Auli to be one of the best ski resorts in the world. Auli although is a lesser known ski destination than Shimla, Gulmarg or Manali, but from what I heard about the place, I’ve decided, next winters, I’m certainly go skiing here.

Having said that I also decided to look for some more destinations across the world to kind of make my list of favorite destinations to go to for, if I were to take a Skiing Holiday.

Here’s what I found:

1Skiing at Alpe d’Huez (France) 

Alpe d'Huez - France, Skiing

Alpe d'Huez - France

Now this is one of the top destinations, one would want to go to in France if you’d want to Ski. Alpe d’Huez is Europe’s top skiing venues. The resort gained popularity when it hosted the bobsleigh events of the 1968 Winter Olympics. With 249 km of piste and 84 ski lifts, the resort is now one of the world’s largest. Extensive snowmaking facilities help fighting the ski area’s largely south-facing orientation and helped Alpe d’Huez appeal to beginner skiers, with easy slopes.

Ski holidays  in Alpe d’Huez has excellent snow records due to the high altitude, the Sarenne Glacier and over 800 snow cannons. The Pique Blanc summit at 3300m affords breathtaking views across the whole of the Southern Alps and provides a wonderful starting point for the Sarenne descent – one of the longest black runs in the world at fully 16km from top to bottom!

2Skiing at Avoriaz (France) 
Avoriaz - France

Avoriaz - France

Avoriaz is a French mountain resort in the heart of the Portes du Soleil. It is located in the territory of the commune of Morzine. It is easily accessible from either Thonon at Lake Geneva or Cluses junction on the A40 motorway between Geneva and Chamonix. Avoriaz is built on a shelf high above the town of Morzine, which is among the pioneering towns of skiing with its first lifts dating back to the early 1930s. Today Avoriaz is one of the major french skidestinations catering for all standards of living, skiing and ranks among the top snowboarding destinations of the world.

Skiing in Avoriaz offer a purpose built, very snow sure resort, the highest in the huge Portes du Soleil – the world’s largest internationally-linked ski area – appealing to skiers and boarders of all abilities. Being traffic free, Avoriaz also appeals to families. The whole resort is easily accessible whether on skis or on foot, and there is a wide choice of shops, restaurants and bars with a varied selection of nightlife.

3Skiing at Davos (Switzerland) 

Switzerland, Davos

Davos

Skiing in Davos give you access to six fantastic ski areas. The skiing in Davos is superb, giving skiers of all levels a vast area of 320kms of world class skiing to play in. Exhilarating stuff! The first “decelerated” skiing area arises here. Relax and enjoy nature at the sunny side of the ski resort of Davos. Gently sloping hills you reach from the center of Davos Platz with the renovated funicular in just four minutes.

4. Skiing in Alpbach (Austria)

Alpbach

Alpbach

Alpbach is a village in Western Austria in the state of Tyrol. There are more than 30 miles of pistes, including a few black runs, but the skiing is generally pleasurable rather than exciting, while the nightlife is cosy and jolly rather than wild. This is a place for families with pre-teens, for couples who want to keep some reserves of energy for the evening, and for beginners. As well as downhill runs, the resort offers snowboarding and cross-country skiing.

These were some of the destinations that I think I’d want to strike off on my bucket list if I were to go skiing worldwide… Wondering why I left it at an odd number of 4, instead of, maybe 5?? Well, you tell me what’s your favorite pick? Maybe that’d be my 5th and final skiing holiday destination 🙂 What say??

Auli – Garwahl Himalayas – Uttarakhand Chronicles

This was one of the places we visited during our acclimatization pre-trek. Before we got ahead and went to The Valley of Flowers, we had an opportunity to visit this beautiful place and must say it was quite beautiful.

Auli, (alt. 2915 mts-3049 mts ) is an important ski destination in the Himalayan mountains of Uttarakhand, India. Auli is known as ‘Bugyal’ in the regional language which means meadow. In fact some French and Australian experts consider Auli to be one of the best ski resorts in the world. Auli is less known ski destination than Shimla, Gulmarg or Manali. It was only in the recent time, after the creation of new state Uttarakhand(formerly Uttaranchal) carved out from Uttar Pradesh, Auli was marketed as Tourist Destination.

he slopes here provide enough thrill to professional skier and novice as well. The Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam Limited (GMVNL) a govt agency which takes care of this resort have imported snow beater to maintain slopes. Auli also boasts the Asia’s longest – 4 km – cable car (Gondola). It also has a Chair Lift and a Ski-Lift. Apart from Skiing there is an interesting trek route also. There is a training facility of Indo-Tibetan Border Police. A small temple having connection to great epic Ramayana is also present. Best time to visit is last week of Jan to first week of March for skiing. Though weather is highly unpredictable. (wiki)

Some of the houses in Auli to stay

Some of the houses in Auli to stay

Beauty of the Kumaon HImalayas

Beauty of the Garwahl HImalayas

Auli Ropeway

Auli Ropeway

Joys in Joshimath – Uttarakhand Chronicles

Joshimath in Uttarakhand was our first basecamp, in the Himalayas… This is one of the most amazing places where you can actually start getting immersed in the white clouds and snow peaked mountains that surround the Himalayas. Very close to Western Himalayas, Joshimath is a hub if you want to enter Auli of the Kumaon Himalayan region, go to Badrinath or for that matter reach towards Govindghat. (starting point to go to Ghagariya ghat, which is the village where people  usually stay during their visits to Valley of Flowers or Hemkund Saheb.)

Our journey to reach Joshimath crossed about 250 kms via mini bus. Now the journey towards Joshimath if you start early in the morning from Rishikesh, is certainly one that is enchanting and of course filled with a constant gaze to the confluences of the river Ganga with other rivers. Every where you go while your bus is doing the hairpin bends, you are bound to see the confluence of River Alaknanda with Bhagirathi and you will definitely get to go through Dev Prayag and Rudra Prayag. One of the two prayags (Confluences) before you reach Joshimath.

Confluence of Alaknanda & Bhagirathi enroute Joshimath

Confluence of Alaknanda & Bhagirathi enroute Joshimath

What is most exciting is the beautiful weather and the peaceful roads will start giving you an enchanting sense of belongingness towards what you would want your Himalayan trek to start off with. Plenty of occasions where you might just drop your jaws with serene and scenic beauty of huge cliffs and mountains in the Uttarakhand region, not just one or two, but stretches of it. That’s something that made the journey all the more exciting.

Beauty of the cliffs & Mountains...

Beauty of the cliffs & Mountains...

Cloud Covered Mountains

Cloud Covered Mountains

After a gruelling 8-9 hours of a bus ride, full of hairpin bends, your entry in Joshimath is one that shall certainly refresh you.

Hairpin Bend Road

Hairpin Bend Road

Waterfalls at the entrance of Joshimath is one of the pit-stops that you have to take before you get into the buzz of the small town of Joshimath. Even as you do that, you will feel the weather change, much different from Rishikesh’s humid texture to a colder ad more fresh air of the Kumaon Himalayan region.

Waterfalls at the entrance of Joshimath

Waterfalls at the entrance of Joshimath

Jyotirmath is the uttarāmnāya matha or northern monastery, one of the four cardinal institutions established by Adi Shankara, the others being those at Shringeri, Puri and Dwaraka. Their heads are titled “Shankaracharya”. According to the tradition initiated by Adi Shankara, this matha is in charge of the Atharvaveda.
Jyotirmath Lord Narasimhar Temple

Once you reach Joshimath, besides getting acclimatized to the weather, one of the things you would want to do is to check out two things.

1. Shankracharya Math (One of the 4 maths in the world) – It also has the Rudraksha tree, which is simply enchanting.

2. Narsimha Temple (Also known as Bhavishya Badrinath Temple) Legend has it that once the Badrinath temple in the future is destroyed, it would be placed here. In fact even now, during the winter, people move the Lord Badrinath shrine here and is worshipped religiously here.

Narsimha Temple

Narsimha Temple

This palce is a certain pitstop if you go towards Auli, Tapovan or anywhere in the Western Himalayan regions of Uttarakhand. Something you’ll cherish deeply.