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Can hardly contain my excitement – winter just puts one in that mood. The warm fuzzy feeling, that touches every sense, you get from the ‘winter smell’, steaming bowls of soup, the fresh smell of a quilt and the heady aroma of warm peanuts. Does it get any better? Surprisingly it does – you are taking time off work and we will help you decide where to go for a winter vacation to escape the dull office and home chore routine. Check out these destinations that have options that range from skiing and sightseeing to birding and ‘doing nothing’ and have a cracking winter holiday:

WInter Holiday JewelsSattal is located in the top most recesses of Uttarakhand and it favors this season of intimacy and being in touch with the finer things in life. It offers its visitors the opportunity to savor the warmth of the brief sunlight through treks, walks, angling, birding or simply cuddling up with hot beverage in a lazy bed. Sattal is picturesque and abounds with nature’s beauty. It is an idyllic winter destination to wallow in the golden morning sun, misty evenings and cozy nights. There are places in which you can stay to experience the winter charm with rooms that afford you outstanding views without leaving the folds of the warm bedding. Friendly and adept staff would be at your service. They would know when you would need something or when you would rather be left alone with your imagination.   The resorts also have roaring bonfires with delicious snacks for those who just cannot get enough of the wintry chill. Sattal’s locales are enticing and would leave you feeling satiated but not enough to keep you from coming back.

Then there is Pauri. It is a tiny emerald village snuggled comfortably amongst 7 Himalayan ranges that are snow-bound during winter, scenic valleys, lush forests and sparkling rivulets. The locals are shy yet extremely hospitable and are steeped in the rich culture of the region. The tolling bells from the large number of temples, confirm the traditional and religious heritage of this region. Pauri is not only ideal as a winter vacation destination but also has an abundance of the much desired calm and tranquility for the tired city person. Matching Pauri’s sweet serenity are the unpretentious resorts that offer you a comfortable and wholesome stay. The ambience is one of gracious hospitality that is surprisingly ‘natural’ (pun intended) and no one betrays any signs of being hassled or ostentatious. Leave your worries and stress when you stay here amidst the innocence of Pauri.

Ramgarh is completely relaxed and serene – enough to hear the myriad thoughts that race through your mind and even has the capability of shutting out the unwanted ones! The sun’s favorite game during winter is ‘hide and seek’ – playing so with the fog. Its brilliant rays peep through the trees of the lush forests and verdant hills only to be overshadowed by the willowy fog that takes over. You could take an excursion to what is known as “The Writer’s Bungalow” where Rabindranath Tagore put to paper some key portions of his ‘Geetanjali’. If hearing the sounds of the forest is your idea of relaxing, then a leisurely walk in the orchards is for you. A visit to the tea gardens and sipping some freshly brewed tea adds aromatic warmth to the chilly weather. Noise and sharp sounds are conspicuous by their absence and Ramgarh lays out tranquility embraced in nature.

Winter thrill gets multiplied times over when you visit the snow laden Narkanda. It is only 65 kms from Shimla and yet remains unrushed, serene, beautiful and relaxed. The entire region is covered in the charming pristine white snow making it the ideal skiing destination. Don’t fret – the slopes offer easy terrain for first time skiers while the experienced skiers can challenge the slopes with their skills on higher descents. The majestic mountains seem so inviting despite their formidable height and tall sentinel like trees too seem happy donning their coats of white. Can winter be more fun?

Rajaji National Park boasts of a thick canopy of lush greenery, the chuckling of water bodies and the happy sounds of the wildlife. Winter is undoubtedly special here as the mist moves along delicately with the wild lending an aura of calm and serenity that is not even broken by the loud trumpeting of the majestic pachyderms and other wild beasts. The Park is the playground for birds too. During winter stream birds like The Himalayan Pied Kingfisher, White Capped Redstarts seem more at home. Migratory birds descend in large numbers and the orchestra of their tweets fills the air.

With so many alluring options, breaking away from the drudgery of the heavy laden city life seems even more necessary. Enjoy the gossamer winter in the midst of nature that touches every nerve and sense and will leave you feeling rejuvenated and upbeat ready to take on the next set of city challenges.