3 Winter Getaways You Should Not Miss!
After all the smog and the poor AQI, one can finally take a chill breath for it’s that time of the year where you can finally escape to one of these lesser-known yet most fulfilling winter getaways to get cosy and warm.
1. Sethan Village
Topping our list is this little paradise called Sethan Village (situated at an altitude of 2,700m above sea level) near Manali and is located approximately at 45-minutes’ drive (15kms) from the popular hill station and houses only 15-20 abodes. From Sethan, one can see the towering Dhauladhar ranges surrounding the village, and the river Beas flowing right next to it – perhaps a few thousand feet down. The inhabitants of Sethan are said to be the original migrants from Tibet and Spiti Valley, representing a Buddhist community who share their roots being horse herders in their past.
As you step inside this beautiful offbeat location, as a lover of nature, you left spellbound looking at a valley draped in white (during winters) waiting for you to explore the magnificence it holds. From skiing, snowboarding, and snow- hiking to camping and trekking in summers; this place is the perfect raw and natural getaway to enjoy.
From here, one can head to Pandu Ropa – the place where Pandavas (before the time of Mahabharata) stayed and meditated, as the believers say. If you move further and dare to trek for a few days towards the east and reach Indrasana Peak (6200m). As a popular belief, it is a throne of Indra (or the Rain God).
Speaking of where to stay, the ideal spot is to stay inside the Igloo ch might cost anywhere between 7-8 thousand rupees but is worth every penny. For those looking for a budget option, staying at a campsite is recommended.
2. Spiti Valley
Next on our list is the soul-searching beautiful cold desert spot – Spiti Valley in Himachal Pradesh. Situated at an altitude of 12,500ft above sea level, Spiti offers breathtaking views and hues of the barren mountains. Over centuries, the melting snow has eroded these mountains and created rock structures which look as though a master craftsman has delicately carved the mountain to give them this shape.
A sight to behold, Spiti has numerous lakes but stopping at the Chandrataal lake is worth the experience. For a glorious view of the Milkyway, stop at the Pin Valley – or the land of Buchen Llamas. Also, visit the Kye Gompa – a Tibetan Buddhist monastery located at an altitude of 4166m above sea level amongst others. For those who love to capture the nature in their lens, Spiti Valley is a photographer’s delight! The play of light, altitude, crisp sunlight, barren landscape of Spiti, friendly people, the red robes of monks, the lush green tracts of agricultural land, the white patches of clouds in the blue sky; all add a splash of colour to Spiti thus leaving you speechless and reaching out for your camera.
For the casual traveller, Mud is just another tiny village in Spiti, but the discerning traveller will fall in love with this place. The entire village lies along a 100 meters long road flanked by spectacular high mountains on all side. Mud is also the starting point of the beautiful Pin Bhaba trek, and a stopover at Kunzum is a must while driving to or from Spiti.
It is India’s new adventure gem and one of the spookiest place – the skeleton lake at RoopkundUttarakhand. As one arrives at one of the homestays at Lohajung, the small village at 7,700ft serves as the trailhead for this adventure. Several comfortable homestays are available, and the panoramic mountain views give you a teaser of what is soon to come.
Roopkund is a high-altitude glacial lake in the Himalayas located at an altitude of about 16,500 ft. The entire trek consists of lush green forests, snow-capped mountains, sparkling little brooks, crystal clear lakes and rocks making it an all-in-one trekking experience! But the fascinating attraction of Roopkund Lake has been the discovery of hundreds of mysterious human skeletons believed from the 9th century, earning the lake the names of ‘Mystery Lake’ & ‘Skeleton Lake’!
For those who love trekking, the Roopkund trek could be one of the most challenging (for your stamina) and enduring treks to take on. The trek offers splendid views of peaks Trishul, Nanda Ghunti, Ronti, Chaukhamba and more and is also considered as one of the best trekking places in India while providing the most beautiful and encapsulating locations.
This feature was first published in the print version of January 2020 issue.