It is that time of the year when winter has already peaked. It’s not the end of winter, but it is the beginning of the end. As the Himalayas await the spring, here are some places you can drive to for some thrills on roads which are as yet snowbound and iced up.
The road to Sonamarg in April. Photo: Rishad Saam Mehta
Sonamarg is snowbound until mid-April. Photo: Rishad Saam Mehta
This little town just below the mighty Zojila Pass is at 10,000ft and is snowbound until the middle of April. It is just a 3-hour drive from Srinagar and the last 20-odd kilometers are absolutely spectacular, with the entire region full of snow and the road just a ribbon of black. The river running alongside is also just starting to defrost and there might be thin ice on the surface at some places.
Where: It’s just 80km from Srinagar to Sonamarg on NH1D and this can easily be done as a day trip from Srinagar.
The road to Kala Tope in Dalhousie. Photo: Rishad Saam Mehta
The Dauladhars are white, the sky is deep blue and snow forms a thin layer on the ground. It is an ideal time to head here because the roads are just about motorable and the tourist hordes are yet to arrive.
You have to stay at Teddy’s Lodge, home to the grand old man of Dalhousie himself, Teddy Singh, and he will take you on fantastic drives around the hill station. The views you will see are unmatched.
Where: Dalhousie is a 7-hour drive from Chandigarh. Contact Teddy Singh on 0-9417191243 or 0-9816168846.
En route to Harsil. Photo: Rishad Saam Mehta
This is a little village that is 35km short of Gangotri. It can serve as a base for some superb driving fun on the road from Harsil to Gangotri. The entire road might not be motorable right now but with snow chains, you can go further.
Do keep in mind that the road is very narrow and the falls are sheer. But it is a fabulous sight to see the conifers draped in white and icicles hanging off pine needles.
Where: Harsil is 73km from Uttarkashi. You can opt for a homestay in Harsil or do a day trip from Uttarkashi.
Snowy roads in Spiti. Photo: Rishad Saam Mehta
The wonder of the Hindustan Tibet road that Lord Dalhousie had ordered built in the nineteenth century, is that as it was conceived as a walking track, there are gentle inclines and the average height of the road is low. This is why even though it is bitterly cold (-20 C at times), the road hardly becomes impassable.
The road from Pooh to Tabo is a 100km drive with spectacular views and iced up roads that are surprisingly easy to drive. You will pass stunning frozen waterfalls and see sights that people won’t believe unless you show them pictures.
Where: Pooh is 279km from Shimla and you can stay at the PWD Guest House here.
Rishad Saam Mehta
is a travel writer and photographer. He is the author of two books, the latest being "Fast Cars and Fidgety Feet" (Tranquebar, 2016).
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