As travellers, we enjoy a great diversity of locations in India, often the very best of it in the entire world and the winter season in India is the icing on the cake.

On one hand you can head north and find yourself in a snow-wonderland, made more interesting by a sub-culture of winter traditions, everyday life and cuisine endemic to the Himalayas.

And on the other you can lay back, open up and relax in the breezy & pleasant coastal south , taking in calm days, trips to the forest and sea food to fill the soul.

What are your options you ask ? Let us take a trip to Kashmir and Goa to find out.

A Winter Trip in Kashmir and What’s Possible

The Himalayan winter is very different from the plains, not just in terms of weather and geography but also in how the people have adapted, the winter culture , food and things to do.

For a local living in Kashmir, its a tough season and everyday life turns out to be rigorous and unpredictable (especially during the peak of winter).

However, for the traveler looking to explore , the region is a wonderful place to experience snow, an alpine winter, majestic snow covered mountains, skiing, sledding , winter treks and a separate cuisine adapted for the cold that is diverse and delicious

a group of people sledding in Kashmir,Gulmarg
A woman being coached on skiing in Kashmir, Gulmarg

Where to begin ?


The summer capital of Kashmir has a lot more to experience than Jammu; and once in Srinagar perhaps the best way to start you trip would be with some piping hot Kahwa (Kashmiri green tea leaves, whole spices, nuts and saffron,expertly brewed), warming you up in your hotel room.

View from hotel room window in Srinagar Dal Lake, Taj Vivanta

From the window you see the landscape draped in snow. And perhaps you already have a traditional Kangri to keep you warm.

A Kangri is an earthen pot woven around with wicker and filled with hot ember, it is the quintessential non electric heater in Kashmir and locals often carry a Kangri under their Pheran (a knee-length cloak) as they go about their day.

Srinagar city covered in snow winter

A walkabout in the old Srinagar city area will take you across a maze of alleys and streets replete with history and heritage, traditional wood architecture and the erstwhile Kahsmiri Pandit neighborhoods.

Old City Srinagar, buildings by a river

In the bazaars, you will find spice shops and artisans making samovars and Kangris, pottery sellers, wicker workers, paper machie artisans, walnut furniture makers and the fragrance of freshly baked bread(s) wafting through the cold winter air..

Kashmir traditional bakery and baker displaying breads

Pay a visit to the beautifully constructed ancient mosques like the Jama Masjid of Nowhatta , the Hazrat Bal shrine, and the Shah Hamdan mosque- the first mosque built in the valley of Srinagar (on the bank of Jhelum river).

A city walkabout and Kashmir lakes.

Take a trip out onto the Dal lake or the lesser known but more pristine Nigeen lake. Covered in a blanket of mist and grey, and contrasted by the colorful Shikaras , wooden houseboats and floating fruit and vegetable markets, the experience is both surreal and beautiful.

Shikara on Dal lake , Srinagar Kashmir


At the heart of any culture is its food and in Kashmir you are spoilt for choice.

For the vegetarians try out dishes like Paneer Chaman, Dum Aloo,Gogji Rajma, Chouk Wangan ,Kashmiri Saag, Nadroo Yakhni (yogurt based Kashmiri curry with lotus stems)


for the meat lovers, try out dishes like Dhaniwal Korma mutton, Rogan Josh, Matschgand (minced meatballs cooked in fiery red sauce), and Gushtaba (minced lamb cooked in tasty yogurt sauce and flavors) and there really is a lot more to discover.

Its a good idea to spend a day or two in Srinagar to get used to the cold and go exploring the city. Though ultimately the real magic of a winter Himalayan trip lies in the outdoors. In places like Pahalgam & Gulmarg that get completely covered in snow, and with it options for some fun winter sports.

Skiing and other winter attractions in Kashmir’s outdoors.


The beautiful meadows of Gulmarg , usually lush green during april and early may, transform into a winter paradise for the adventure traveller & the leisure travel seeker alike. Snowboarding, skiing, sledding and snowmobile rides are options to try. Even heli-skiing and Alpine skiing for the more adventurous and experienced.


Take the gondola cable ride that starts from 9k feet to Kongdori meadow at 11 k feet and then onto Apharwat peak, which is 13,000ft.

The whole journey gives one stunning views of the mountains, meadows, shepherd’s huts and the valleys beyond. All of it is draped in a white, contrasted by grey,green and black.

If you have not experienced snow before , this is something to see.


Pahalgam like Gulmarg is known for winter sports like sledding, skiing, snowboarding, ice skating and snow mobile rides as well. Situated in the Lidder valley, the town itself is small and you could split the day into exploring the town area and getting out into the snow.


Lidder river Valley with houses covered in snow. Pahalgam Aru village Kashmir

If lucky, you can also try out a winter delicacy called ‘Hokh syun’ a traditional preparation made entirely from meat, fish and sun- dried vegetables or Farriga – smoked fish, roasted in torched grass. These preparations date back to a time when ingredients had to be preserved for the difficult winter season.

These are rare though, so you would have to look to find it, some deluxe hotels and restaurants may have it.

What is the winter weather like in Kashmir and what should I carry

The weather

Winter begins in December and the ideal time visit (for a winter trip) is till February-early march.

Keep in mind, a 40 day period in these winter months that marks the harshest part of the season and is traditionally known as Chilal Kalan.


snow bound road, people walking on snowbound road in Kashmir

Historically it has been from Dec 21st to Jan 31st. Though it has been said, in the recent past Chilal Kalan has been delayed.

Average temperatures range from five to minus five degrees Celsius and sometimes can go to ten degrees.

Safe to say that it will be really cold and you need to get proper winter clothing/gear, and a good pair of trekking boots. Extreme cold winds and snowfall are to be expected.

Other Helpful Travel tips for a winter in Kashmir

  • Expect delays in flights due to weather and keep a buffer for travel bookings and related factors.
  • Heavy snowfall often blocks out roads, and journeys can get uncomfortable, so it is best to pick a comfortable vehicle.
  • Some places are more accessible than others (due abrupt weather situations), so ask in advance about road conditions and weather forecasts.
  • Shops are open in the winter, unless there is a curfew. The plus side to shopping around this time, is that you have a better chance of striking a good bargain on souvenirs.
  • Avoid local transport and instead hire a prepaid vehicle,preferably with a driver.
  • When booking ,ask in advance about heating amenities in the room. Since temperatures can go into the negative. For example, a lesser priced hotel room might not have an electric blanket , but you would find them in the deluxe hotels



A Winter in Goa and What’s possible

A marriage of Portuguese and Indian culture, Goa needs little introduction. From its verdant forests, sun-kissed beaches, laid back pace & beers by a shack, you need to experience the land of chill at least once in your lifetime.


Beach life in Goa, is best experienced in the winters. Warm in the day and pleasant at night, it is the ideal time to take day trips to the forests, sunsets by the beach, indulge in a wide variety of seafood & drinks (at a steal) . God was in a good mood when she made Goa..

Travel to Goa and you will find two sides to the holiday state.

Its coastal strip of party beaches or remote ones, and if you are prepared to travel inland and away from the usual spots.. a trove of protected forests, natural springs, ancient caves, some perennial waterfalls, and winding rural roads that snake in and out of goan villages, fields and forest edges.

Lets start with exploring inland Goa

Further inland Goa becomes wilder, more verdant and relaxed.

A world within the Goan world that you should see..set among lush paddy fields, deep gorges and thick forest are ancient temples, Portuguese churches, spice plantations and waterfalls. Not to mention trips to river islands.

As well as butterflies, there are birds of all kinds flitting between the trees, while cats and dogs laze happily in the grass.

The river is lined with fishermen and crabbers, and the day is slow , relaxed and beautiful.

Goa’s backwaters & river islands

Divar & Chorão
One of Goa’s many (river) islands. Divar and Chorão make for a stunning back country circuit with low traffic and idyllic village-scapes. A further extension to this can be a cross over to old Goa’s historic quarter.

How to get there

the river islands can be reached from the old Goa jetty which is a short distance from both Mapusa and Panjim. Ensure to arrange for transport on the island or bring your own.


Combine it with a road trip in the Western Ghats.

Goa is the only state in India that has protected all of the Western ghat regions within its boundaries (wildlife reserves). It is within these environs, that you can take day trips deep into nature with relative ease. Within this rabbit hole exist varied attractions that require a curious mind, and perhaps if you have time.. spend a longer duration in certain places to truly experience the magic that the Western Ghat eco-system contains.

There a number of stay options , so you can plan a trip that is exploratory and covers a lesser number of kms per day. Cultural heritage, temples, caves, wildlife sanctuaries, twisting roads, off roads, rain-forests and wildlife sightings are what make up a trip to these parts.

You can find our route recommendations for a road trip in the Western Ghats here.

These routes not only include a trip in the Goa-Karnataka stretch of the Ghats but the whole range from Gujarat to Tamil Nadu, all laid out for you in a easy to follow itinerary, with highlights.


Remote Beach Hopping in Goa

Keri beach

Surrounded by a tree line of palm, fir and Casuarina trees, Keri still remains a pristine beach .The ideal place to sink into, and watch the hours go by in peace, perhaps a small swim in the sea, or lay back with a book or beer to enjoy what Goa was like before the ‘north Goa tourist’ vibe.

How to get there

Keri is easily accessible by road and you can ride or drive to the beach. Taking your own vehicle or hiring one is the best option.

Check out

Close to the Keri beach is an ancient fort on the Triacol river. Originally built by the Marathas in the early 17th century, the Tiracol fort was captured by Portuguese viceroy Dom pedro de Almeida and rebuilt in 1746. Recently the fort was converted into Fort Tiracol Heritage hotel and is possibly of north Goa’s best kept ‘stay’ secrets.

The stay at heritage hotel is a experience on its own, serving as a luxurious base when spending a few days exploring this side of north Goa.

While Keri is in the north, south Goa also has a few gems hidden and away from the more popular beaches of Agonda , Palolem and Butterfly beach. These are places you can spend a relaxed day at, free of the normal tourist trappings.

What you give up in from of ‘conveniences’, you are more than rewarded in peace and quiet, better privacy and somewhat unspoiled beaches.

Kakolem beach

Close to the more popular Cabo de Rama beach, this small strip of untouched sands is worth the effort of a short forest hike you need to take, so you can reach the shore. This beach is also known as Tiger beach and perhaps takes that name from a rural hunting legend.


How to get there

Take your own vehicle and a simply type in the beach name in google maps. This will take you the entry point from where you start walking. You can park your vehicle there.


A fresh water stream runs into the beach from the forest nearby and in the monsoons it is preceded by a waterfall. If you are in luck, the water level in the stream wont be too low and you take a nice dip and spend the afternoon cooling of in the fresh water. Carry food and supplies to be prepared, but there is a restaurant nearby with accommodation.

Cola beach

Another hidden gem of south Goa, this beach is a little less remote than Kakolem but still has a great vibe.


How to get there

One way is to google ‘Samyama retreat’ as a landmark to get there. From here there is a path that leads down to the shore line, but you can only do it on foot. Ask for directions on how to get to the shore, its not a difficult affair.


The sunsets at this beach are worth the wait and if you explore the beach edges you will come across a fresh water stream that runs into the sea, often referred to as emerald lagoon. You can relax here during the heat of the day if you want to give the resorts nearby a miss.

Patnem beach

Patnem is a little more popular than Cola or Kakolem, and is an option to choose if you don’t want to stay at Agonda or Palolem.

How to get there

Patnem is easily accessible by road and public transport is also available to get there. A taxi from the airport will cost about 2,000 rupees.


There a bunch of stay options here and the vibe is relaxed. There are also bunch things to do at cafes, souvenirs and clothing shops, yoga retreats and body massage centers. A good idea would be setup base at Patnem and go exploring the above beaches as well as Galjibag beach even further south.

Whether you will travel inland or stay by the beach, one thing you should not miss out on is the sea food in Goa. A humble list of places in south Goa. For the foodie in you

  • Palácio do Deão – A traditional Indo-Portuguese cuisine experience, set in a beautifully resorted mansion in Quepem (built in the 1780s).
  • Sheela’s Restaurant & Bar – Views of the river Zuari meld with traditional Goan cooking and the use of secret Masalas.
  • The beef patties and chocolate eclairs at Jila bakery in Ambora village
  • The golden Goan fish Thali at Anantashram in Vasco da Gama
  • The Fisherman’s wharf at Salcette and their butter garlic prawns or prawn curry rice
  • The spicy mackerel Rechado and a large Feni at Zeebop By The Sea
  • Tender pork ribs, fresh seafood and cold beers at the Fish Ka bar & restaurant
  • The Sorpotel, Pork Vindaloo, Pomfret Caldin and Chicken Cafreal at Martin’s Corner in Salcette

To conclude, whether you prefer the sand or the snow; you are in for a great time in both the North and South India during the winter. Given the chance I would do both, one after the other. Perhaps Kashmir first and then Goa..

If you’re thinking of.. Or already planning to travel. We’ve curated a perfect short trip plan in these parts. ⠀

Options to customize a trip with us is also possible, simply ask us for more details. Or have a look at our curated options for road tripping in India .

The road never ends ..