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10 Coldest Cities in India – 2024 Update

road to tawang gate in india

Covering over 1.2 million square miles, India is a land of diverse cultures, wildlife, and climates. You can find some of the warmest places on Earth on the subcontinent, but travels to its furthest reaches can find you in some of the most frigid areas of Asia.

The wide-ranging weather makes for a fascinating trip, but it demands careful planning to ensure you stay safe and comfortable. If you’re trying to experience some of the chillier stretches of India, here’s a preview of its 10 coldest cities.

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The 10 Coldest Cities in India

1.  Dras, Ladakh

Mean Annual Temperature: 39.2°F/4°C
Hottest Month: August
Coldest Month: January
Lowest Recorded Temperature: -76°F

Dras sits nearly 11,000 feet above sea level in the northern territory of Ladakh. Known as the “Gateway to Ladakh” and staking its claim as the second coldest place on Earth after Siberia, Dras is the coldest town in India, with an average annual low of 23°F and an average temperature of just 17°F in its coldest month—January.

Dras is a tourist destination, not just for the cold but for its beautiful Himalayan landscape and rich history surrounding its role in the Kargil War. It features the starting point for the Zoji La Pass—one of the most dangerous mountain paths in Asia. Despite the cold annual averages, the temperature can reach up to 75°F during the warm months of July and August, bringing gorgeous displays of wildflower blooms to the valley.


2. Kargil, Ladakh

Mean Annual Temperature: 41.9°F/5.5°C
Hottest Month: July
Coldest Month: January
Lowest Recorded Temperature: -76°F (Dras)

Kargil is the joint capital of Ladakh located about 39 miles northeast of Dras. It is famous for the Kargil War of 1999, an intense battle between India and neighboring Pakistan. As one of the most populated towns in the territory, it’s the starting point for various treks across India.

Annual average temperatures are around 42°F in Kargil, reaching lows of 13°F in January and highs up to 70° in July. Summers are mild but wet, with most of the city’s rain arriving from June through September.


3. Leh, Ladakh

Mean Annual Temperature: 42.8°F/6°C
Hottest Month: July
Coldest Month: January
Lowest Recorded Temperature: -19°F

With Kargil, Leh is the joint capital of Ladakh and the largest city in the territory. It’s located almost 5 hours east of Kargil, just above Hemis National Park. You can find various historical sites throughout the city, including Leh Palace and Shanti Stupa, a Buddhist meditation hall and chamber of relics.

Leh is warm and dry during the summer, reaching highs of 70°–75°F from June through September. Winters are cold, bringing lows between 8° and 14°F from December to February, a period that sometimes sees light bouts of snow.


4. Keylong, Himachal Pradesh

village in Keylong, Himachal Pradesh
Image Credit: ImagesofIndia, Shutterstock
Mean Annual Temperature: 48°F/8.9°C
Hottest Month: July
Coldest Month: January
Lowest Recorded Temperature: <4°F

Keylong, or Kyelang, is a small town in Himachal Pradesh, the territory south of Ladakh and Jammu and Kashmir. The site gives visitors views of the famed Kardang Monastery, and there are various smaller temples and monasteries to explore within a few miles of the town.

Keylong regularly sets daily low-temperature records for Himachal Pradesh. November through March see average lows below freezing, and summer days max out around 70°F. Average monthly temperatures range from freezing in January to about 62°F in July and August.


5. Pahalgam, Jammu and Kashmir

valley in Pahalgam, Jammu and Kashmir
Image Credit: JeJai Images, Shutterstock
Mean Annual Temperature: ~50°F/10°C
Hottest Month: August
Coldest Month: January
Lowest Recorded Temperature: -1.5°F

The picturesque village of Pahalgam is a massive draw for tourists due to its sweeping vistas and close proximity to Amarnath Temple, a famous shrine that inspires an annual pilgrimage.

Temperatures vary significantly here. Winter lows stay below freezing from November through March, but the summers often have daily temperatures up to 80°F. Wintertime gets extremely humid, but it tapers off as the temperature rises, keeping the short summers from becoming too muggy.


6. Kalpa, Himachal Pradesh

village in Kalpa, Himachal Pradesh
Image Credit: worldescaper, Shutterstock
Mean Annual Temperature: ~51°F/10.6°C
Hottest Month: August
Coldest Month: January
Lowest Recorded Temperature: 3°F

Known for its apple orchards and monasteries, Kalpa is part of the Kalpa tehsil consisting of several nearby towns. Due to its higher elevation, it has low temperatures and long winters featuring several feet of snow. Average highs only reach roughly 70°F in the hottest summer months, and daily lows stay at or below freezing from December through March.


7. Kokernag, Jammu and Kashmir

Mean Annual Temperature: ~54°F/12.2°C
Hottest Month: August
Coldest Month: January
Lowest Recorded Temperature: 5°F

Home to the largest freshwater spring in the Kashmir territory, Kokernag features some of the most gorgeous areas in India. Accompanying the spring is the botanical garden, an astonishing piece of landscaping dating back nearly 100 years.

Temperatures drop below freezing during the coldest points in December­ to February in Kokernag. Summer highs can get above 80°F, a period when humidity spikes. August can get especially muggy, but spring and fall months offer a comfortable mix of cool temperatures and low humidity.


8. Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir

Jama Masjid in Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir
Image Credit: Skorodum, Shutterstock
Mean Annual Temperature: 55.9°F/13.3°C
Hottest Month: July
Coldest Month: January
Lowest Recorded Temperature: -20°F

With a population of over 1 million, Srinagar is the summer capital and largest city of Jammu and Kashmir. It rests on the Jhelum River, a 5-hour drive west from Kargil. It is one of the most idyllic spots in India, with numerous lakes and Mughal gardens in the area. Tourists in Srinagar also gain access to nearby Gulmarg, one of Asia’s highest-rated ski resorts.

The summer months have highs between 75°–90°F from May through September. Lows dip below freezing from November to February before the weather warms again in March—the time when Srinagar gets most of its rain.


9. Shimla, Himachal Pradesh

first snowfall in Shimla, Himachal Pradesh
Image Credit: worldescaper, Shutterstock
Mean Annual Temperature: 55.9°F/13.3°C
Hottest Month: June
Coldest Month: January
Lowest Recorded Temperature: 10°F

Contrasting the rural hamlet of Keylong is Shimla, a city of nearly 170,000 people. The bustling city center features shopping, cultural festivals, several Hindu Temples, and nearby ski areas.

Temperatures rarely fall below freezing in Shimla, but mild summers keep its annual average down. Highs in June top out around 75°F, before temperatures start falling. The following months of July through September bring the majority of Shimla’s rain, close to 40 inches during the 3 months. During the winter, the city will often see at least 20 inches of snowfall.

Related Read: 10 Hottest Cities in India


10. Kupwara, Jammu and Kashmir

Mean Annual Temperature: ~56°F/13.3°C
Hottest Month: July
Coldest Month: January
Lowest Recorded Temperature: 7°F

Kupwara is a town in Jammu and Kashmir about two and a half hours northwest of Srinagar. Yet another Indian gem, the remote town brings tourists close to soaring mountains, vast green meadows, and colorful forests.

There are intense temperature fluctuations from winter to summer in Kupwara compared to other areas of India. Winters are frigid, with lows staying at or below freezing from November to February. But from June through September, temperatures skyrocket, with average daily highs staying comfortably above 80°F for 4 months.

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Conclusion

India is an expansive playground for the true explorer, a sparsely populated land of otherworldly landscapes and unique history. Towns are remote, and there aren’t many that contain more than a handful of residents, but the culture and sense of adventure are rich no matter where you land. By braving the elements and discovering the wonders of these coldest cities in India, you’ll lay claim to once-in-a-lifetime experiences shared by a bold, select few.


Featured Image Credit: sarangib, Pixabay

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