How to build an igloo: Manali Snow Lessons

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I’ve dreamt of staying in a glass igloo in Kakslauttanen one day; and waking up to see the Northern Lights from the warm interiors of the igloo.

I’ve also dreamt of being seated around a fire outside an igloo and traipsing through inches of snow in Iceland or Sweden to see the Aurora and capture its beauty. And for the likes of me, living in a third-world country on a third-world income, that’s hardly a possibility.

But some dreams do come true, even if they are in the place you least expected. One sunny winter morning I woke up in my sleeping bag next to my friend Tejashree.

Yes, it’s an amazing experience waking up in an igloo to see the sunlight filtering in through the snow above me, and our guide Laxman crouching in through the narrow entrance to bring us piping hot cups of tea. Yes, I was in an igloo!

Alaska, it’s always been Alaska, Sweden and Iceland and other countries and you have to pay a pretty price to visit those far away dreamy places. Who would have ever thought of India as a place to see igloos?

But our ingenious camp leader Tashi, who has spent over 8 years learning about them has made this dream a possibility for people of most income groups in Asia; and my friend Tejashree from Enchanted Outings has started leading trips to Tashi and Vikas’s igloo camp near the Hamta Pass in Manali. Albeit seasonal, since it depends on the amount of snow. Glad I went there while I could πŸ™‚

Ad: My friend Tej from Enchanted Outings arranges budget and shoestring tours across India. To book with her and get a 10% discount email enchantedoutings01@gmail.com and give her discount coupon code AbbyWingedFork.

I am going to write about the entire experience as soon as I’ve sorted through all my pictures. But I couldn’t help posting this bit about how to make an igloo.

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People having fun with snow being thrown at them.
Igloo making fun – A friend was throwing snow at them during the tutorial

The morning after our igloo stay, Tashi gave us a basic tutorial on how to make an igloo. It requires a lot of technique and skill.

Tashi piles snow into the crate that is about the same size as a block of ice. He keeps pounding on the snow till it’s absolutely compact. These blocks of ice will be ready to be used in the igloo construction on the following day.

Tashi says each ice block can easily take the weight of a fully grown man, and much more. So Dev tests this out by standing on one. He’s about 90 kgs. So it works πŸ˜‰

There are ravens playing in the snow nearby and sometimes you can hear them louder than anything else.

Ravens in the snow: Pic by my friend Sam.
Ravens in the snow (Pic by my friend Sam)
My friend Tej concentrating as Tashi points at the igloo.
Tej concentrating as Tashi says lets go over to the igloo

More discussion follows, which Tashi and Tej will always repeat if you go visit them πŸ˜‰ Notice how Tej is frowning with concentration. Shh! Don’t tell her I shot this pic of her.

Since most of this group spoke in Hindi, Tashi then explains in Hindi how the blocks take at least a day to stick to each other. They do not meld instantly, but as the temperature drops over the next day, the snow melts a little and the blocks merge.

Yes, I know Dev is coughing in the background. But it wasn’t as loud as the crows from the previous video. So I’ve left it in… Au naturel!

A question came up about the curved nature of the igloos. So Tashi cut the block at an angle as an example. Consecutive blocks are cut similarly to form the curving arch of the igloo.

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We now head over to the igloo to see how the blocks are placed.

For the bigger igloos that are made to occupy a family of about 4 people, a frame is used to set it up.

Igloo constructor smiling at camera.
Tashi, our amazing igloo host (Pic by our friend Sam)

Doesn’t Tashi look like an eskimo? His smile and his outfit are perfect!

After this educational igloo-making session we posed for pics. Here are pics of my friends πŸ˜‰ To find out more about the trip, hop over to my post about hiking and trekking in Manali, with more details about the other activities. Vikas and Tashi’s novel and amazing igloos in our beautiful India have now been copied by many other locals, but they’re still the best. Head over to stay there if you can. πŸ˜‰

3 people posing in front of an igloo and one person on top of it.
My friends posing in front of the igloos

Ad: I absolutely loved my igloo stay in Manali, India with my friend Tejashree’s team from Enchanted Outings. To get an extra 10% discount on booking this seasonal novelty or for customized tours across Northern India in winter or summer Tej at email enchantedoutings01@gmail.com and give her coupon code AbbyWingedFork.

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Pinterest image on how to build an igloo for fun.
Pinterest image on igloo camping.

10 thoughts on “How to build an igloo: Manali Snow Lessons”

  1. Igloo in Manali, India. Awesome experience !! Nice Igloo making details in the blog. Thanks and Hats off to Tashi & team
    for making it possible for a Igloo stay in our very Incredible India !!!!
    Cheers !!

    Reply
    • The igloo making was started just last year by Tashi. It’s somewhat of a novelty in India and Asia, but it was an amazing experience
      waking up in one. You could always visit Manali again. This time Tashi’s igloos. πŸ˜‰

      Reply

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