If Shimla is the summer
capital par excellence, Kufri, 13 km from the Ridge, 16 km from the bus
stand, makes it the winter sports capital; at an altitude of 2,622 metres,
it is ideal for skiing. The air is crisp, invigorating and the snow, warm-Kufri
is agog with activity, tourists, in their thousands, have come from far
and near to partake in the poetry of motion, skiing. Fun from the very
beginning, the real sense of exhilaration in the joyous sport comes along
with the sense of accomplishment that follows the first time one skis down
a slope under total control. Then come the ethereal joys of the downhill,
the exhilaration of speed and the intoxication of the control of ones nerves.
No dictionary has been able to define the joys and thrills of the game.
Chambers says: "ski-a long, narrow, wooden snow shoe, and skiing-to travel
on skis up and down the mountain slope"-this can hardly evoke the feeling
of flying through the air as one skis down the now-laden slope.
Actually it cannot be
described but only experienced. Whether, it is a sport of an end or means
to an end, as in the Scandinavian countries, where toddlers learn to ski
as soon as they learn to walk, cannot be argued upon.
Besides Kufri, Narkanda
and Solang, 12 km (7.4 miles) from Manali, are other ski resorts with splendid
slopes. Commencing towards the end of December, the ski season continues
till the end of February or early March, depending on the snow conditions.
The annual Winter Sports Festival and the Carnival are held in the first
week of February at Kufri and Manali in which dozens of skiers from all
parts of the country participate to ride the snows or ski against the bracing
After a strenunous day
on the slopes, it is the custom to return to Wild Flower Hall for a session
around the glowing fire and a bowl of hot grog, or spiced punch, discussing
the slopes or some other heart- warming topic.
As in Switzerland the
ski resorts in Colorado, USA, parties or 'Open House' are the order of
the day to spend the evenings during the Winter Festival and Carnival.
Again the venue is lovely Wild-Flower Hall, where the ghost of Kitchener,
with his bristling moustache, still lingers nostalgically. Accommodation
is available in the Kufri Holiday Resort, HPTDC Winter Sports Club and
PWD Rest Houses at Kufri and in Wild Flower Hall at Chharabara. The HPTDC
arranges instructions for the novice, skis, boots and tobaggons can be
hired by the regular and casual members.