Grassy slopes beckon skiers to Solang Valley

All year round

You do not have to wait for the snow to ski in Himachal Pradesh. The turfed slopes of the picturesque Solang Valley in the western Himalayas beckon you to put on your skis – these ones with wheels – and slide down into pleasure.

“The grass slopes are ready. One can come and ski in the country's only natural slopes throughout the year,” said Randhir Singh Salhuria, director of the state-run institute of mountaineering and allied sports in Manali.

Solang, popular among skiers for its great snow and steep pistes, is just 13 km uphill from Manali. For the first time, the mountaineering institute, set up in 1961 to promote adventure sports, developed a 120-metre-long grassy slope by planting a thick variety of grass.

It has started a seven-day basic course in grass skiing. Grass skiing remains an ever-popular activity among the Europeans.

Of late, it has picked up in China, Japan and Iran too. Salhuria said the basic summer course will continue till the onset of winter.

It has been designed for beginners and any participant above the age of 10 years can enrol. The mountaineering institute is also conducting special activities in mountaineering, backpacking, skiing, trekking, rafting, kayaking and paragliding for students, families and corporates.

Both the grass and snow skiing slopes are the same but skiing on grass is quite popular with children.

“In winter, the slopes are used for snow skiing. As the snow thaws in March, the grass surfaces naturally and can host grass skiing (from June to October),” said  institute deputy director Mahavir Thakur.

“The institute has procured equipment, including grass skis, worth Rs 25 lakh for the participants,” said Roshan Lal Thakur, secretary general of the Winter Games Federation of India.

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