Many photographers, travel enthusiasts, and tourists from different parts of the world flock to Mussoorie every winter to attend events and programs bearing the word ‘winterline’ in their title. Moreover, several trekking groups organize ‘winterline treks’, and even the Government of Uttarakhand hosts an annual event in December which is titled the ‘Winterline Carnival’. All these aforementioned activities have ‘Winterline’ in their title, but what exactly is Winterline?!
‘Winterline’ is a unique atmospheric phenomenon that can be witnessed in Mussoorie during sunrise and sunset, though more prominently during sunsets. During evenings, a multi-colored false horizon is seen in the western sky behind which the sunsets. The horizon is dominated by blue, orange, yellow, red, mauve, and grey colors, and thus, a Winterline creates a band of light across the western sky. Unlike the stationary land horizon, a Winterline allows the light to play through it because it is up in the air. This hoax horizon is dark grey and mauve beneath and orange and yellow above, separated by a bright and sharp lit-up line. This spectacular sight is much appreciated by the onlookers but in actuality (except the locals), very few know about this distinctive occurrence.
Winterline can only be seen during a particular time of the year, i.e. from mid-October till January. It can only be witnessed from places that have a long clear view of a valley in the west. This is another great factor that makes Doon and Mussoorie really special as this exceptional weather phenomenon is only visible from two places in the world – Mussoorie and some part of Switzerland.
How is a Winterline formed?
There are different theories as to how a Winterline is formed. Some say that it is formed when the sunlight refracts at a particular angle, while the sun sets in the winter evenings. Some share a theory that says that Dehradun has a relatively high temperature due to which hot air rises, whereas, on the other hand, the air over Mussoorie is cooler. When the airs of distinctive temperatures meet, it traps the hot air beneath the cool air and thus forms a bright and sharp line, the lower part of which is darker in color (dark grey and mauve) and the upper part is lighter in color (orange, yellow and blue). It is said that this line is always there but can be observed only during the evenings, when the sun sets behind the false created horizon, beautifully giving life to the Winterline.
We talked to several people who were witnessing the Winterline in action and got to know their take on this incredible scenery.
Tamish Goyal and Muskaan Garg from Rohini in Delhi are visiting Mussoorie along with their other cousins. The entire group of siblings is pretty excited to witness the Winterline for the first time in life. They say, “We got to know about this weather phenomenon today itself and are very thrilled to observe the Winterline formation since morning. On witnessing it, we clicked a lot of lovely pictures with the Winterline in the background and even uploaded the same on social media platforms with the caption mentioning this unique sight. It feels like crossing an item from our bucket list!”
Kanupriya Mody, a student from Mumbai who is visiting Mussoorie for the very first time, says, “I feel so lucky to have planned a trip to Mussoorie at this time of the year to experience something so incredible! I have something great to tell my friends and family members. Witnessing and learning about Winterline made my 2020 pretty exciting!”
Nagraj Gada, a software engineer by profession and a hobbyist photographer from Chennai, says, “I spent yesterday in Dehradun and while traveling to Mussoorie early this morning, I got to witness Winterline and clicked some photographers. I got so inquisitive about the scenery I witnessed during a sunrise that I asked the locals about it and hence got to know about the Winterline phenomenon. Just to watch the Witnerline again, I kept my schedule free for the evening and placed myself on a high altitude spot to click better pictures. On reaching back, I’ll write a blog about my experience of this wonderful trip to Mussoorie.”
Harshit Verma, a professional photographer from Dehradun, says, “I, along with my friends from the photography community, come to Mussoorie during this season every year to capture pictures and record videos of Winterline from different spots. It is all together with a different experience, especially for a photographer and I really consider myself lucky to reside in this wonderful place!”
Atul Singh, a localite from Mussoorie, says, “I’ve been seeing many tourists and travel enthusiasts coming to the hills, especially during this time just to witness the Winterline phenomenon. This is one of the reasons that the Govt. of Uttarakhand started organizing the Mussoorie Winterline Carnival (MWC). Thanks to the Winterline, MWC has generated employment for the locals of Mussoorie over time. I must say that Winterline is one of the major USPs of Mussoorie during the peak season in the winters.”
Mohit Mittal, owner of Café Ivy in Landour, says, “People visit our café in large numbers during this peak season, but lately, we’ve seen a rise in the number of customers during evenings just because they want to enjoy their meals with a view of Winterline in front of them. Youngsters click pictures turn by turn, make videos, do video calls, and even go live on Facebook and Instagram to create hype about witnessing the Winterline phenomenon.”