Memories of a White Christmas

Memories of a White Christmas
Highlights

As a child, I always nurtured a major grouse against the rest of the world when it came to Christmas celebrations – that here in India we never get a chance to experience a white Christmas on the lines of what I read in Enid Blytons and other story books. 

As a child, I always nurtured a major grouse against the rest of the world when it came to Christmas celebrations – that here in India we never get a chance to experience a white Christmas on the lines of what I read in Enid Blytons and other story books.

I had only my imagination to bank upon to recreate that landscape in my mind- a beautiful blanket of pure white snow carpeting the scenario outside the window, with me happily ensconced in my blanket and sweaters, sipping hot chocolate.

That craving got fueled further when in the later years I used to visit the Himalayas in the peak of winter but was never lucky to witness a white Christmas.

5 Places In India Where You Can Celebrate A White Christmas

Manali, Himachal Pradesh
You cannot think of snow and not think of Manali. One of the most popular tourist destinations of India, Manali can be a dream come true during Christmas.

Nainital, Uttarakhand
One of the most popular hill-stations, a beautiful blanket of snow can make Nainital look absolutely gorgeous with green and white perfectly interspersed.

Shimla, Himachal Pradesh
Shimla looks nothing less than a beautiful English countryside hamlet in the winters. It’s just plain gorgeous in winters! And if it snows during Christmas, nothing like it.

Pahalgam , Jammu and Kashmir
No other place could possibly be more beautiful and it is not without reason that it is called jannat ( heaven).

Mussoorie, Uttarakhand
The old lady still retains few of her earlier charms and if you are lucky (like I was), your visit might turn out to be a once in a lifetime experience.

The icing on the cake is that these tourist destinations aren’t very popular in winters as they are too cold for most Indians and hence, you can even avail off-season rates!

There’s so much to savour and it’ll be such a memorable Christmas that you’ll surely enjoy the experience (even without snowfall).

Then suddenly two years ago, Lady Luck smiled on me. It was Christmas Eve and I had stayed put up in the popular hill station of Mussoorie for the last two weeks mainly to witness ‘winter line’ - a striking sunset in which the sun sets behind a false horizon, emanating colors of purple, orange, reds and yellows. Mussoorie is the only place in India from where one can watch this unique phenomenon.

The setting up of the Bukhari, a traditional heating system to warm the house is a mandatory ritual of winter in this hill town.

It had already taken place in most homes including the quaint but cozy home stay where I was staying. An opening at the top of the Bukhari allows one to put in coal or wood and light the fire.

As we were warming up around the fire, my home stay host, an elderly lady recalled how earlier it used to begin snowing from November end itself when overnight the lush green landscape would get covered with a blanket of soft, white snow.

“But call it pollution, over population, deforestation or the change in the weather pattern, white sonata during Christmas has been confined to memories only.”

She sighed and gave a very heavy hearted nod when I asked ‘Is this real?’ about the pictures of snow laden Mussoorie hung on the wall in front of the fireplace.

"White Christmas was the norm in our younger days. I have distinct memories of it.” Her husband, a retired army man, too chips in.

“A white Christmas was of course one of the essentials. It was indeed a heavenly bliss as it surely used to snow precisely on the 25th of December.

Sadly, these days, it is rare. Last year for example we hardly had one proper snowfall during the entire winter.

But this year the signs of a Christmas snowfall seem to be in place. Hopefully, we will see a white Christmas after years," he sounded expectant and my spirits too perked up.

With snowfall reported in the higher reaches of the Himalayas, temperatures had already dipped to one degree Celsius in Mussoorie.

Bonfires on the streets were a common sight and I went to sleep praying for a White Christmas. And next morning, as I woke up, the first color outside the window that caught my attention was WHITE- lovely, heavenly pearls of white resting on the rooftops, branches of tress.

It had snowed through the night and in the morning light; it was really a sight to behold! White, white and just white everywhere!

The streets of Mussoorie had disappeared under six inches of snow! This Christmas it was really going to a white Christmas in this hills’ town after a span of almost ten years!

As I stepped outside, people were seen throwing snowballs at each other, while others posed for pictures. However, it was the children, who seemed to be having the best time.

Sunny, an eight-year-old, who had come from Delhi was trying to build a snowman. "I absolutely love playing with snow. I can barely feel my hands though," he said.

I was enjoying every moment because I had never seen snowfall before. It was really a unique experience –difficult to describe in words. I was lost in my own thoughts as I stood on the snow under a pure blue sky and bathed in golden sunlight.

A little later, I got to know that at the entrance to Mussoorie there was a big traffic jam as everyone was coming up from the plains to be part of this heavenly scenery. I felt blessed to be at the right place at the right time.

Mussoorie is touted to be the “Queen of the hill stations” and there is a saying that the Queen never disappoints her fans.

Despite her torn green cloak, she had begged the heavens for snow. And the Gods had fortunately answered her prayers, my prayer.

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