Gulmarg – Beauty of Kashmir

Gulmarg‘s legendary beauty, prime location and proximity to Srinagar naturally make it one of the premier hill resorts in the country. Originally called ‘Gaurimarg’ by shepherds, its present name was given in the 16th century by Sultan Yusuf Shah, who was inspired by the sight of its grassy slopes emblazoned with wild flowers. Gulmarg was a favorite haunt of Emperor Jehangir who once collected 21 different varieties of flowers from here. Today Gulmarg is not merely a mountain resort of exceptional beauty- it also has the highest green golf course in the world, at an altitude of 2,650 m, and is the country’s premier ski resort in the winter. It is popular for its astonishing beauty. You could see the beautiful landscape; get into adventure sports, such as skiing, golf, and trekking.

Built by the French company Pomagalski, the Gulmarg Gondola is one of the highest in the world reaching 3,979 metres. The two-stage ropeway ferries about 600 people per hour to and from Gulmarg to a shoulder of nearby Mt. Apharwat Summit (4,200 m (13,780 ft)). The first stage transfers from Gulmarg at 2,600 m (8,530 ft) to Kongdoori at 3,080 m. The second stage which has 36 cabins and 18 towers, takes passengers to a height of 3,950 m (12,959 ft) on the Apharwat Peak (4,200 m (13,780 ft)).

Day 4 – We covered the distance of 50 kms from Srinagar to Gulmarg in the morning by our taxi in around 90 minutes. It was a complete different sight on reaching Gulmarg. Again the local authorities of the area didn’t allow our taxi to go beyond the city taxi stand. There were so many different modes of commuting within that area and so many local people giving different suggestions to get the best experience of the place. To rescue us from all this fuss, there were also guides available who would escort you to the places of interest in that area and also protect you from falling prey to the local thugs. Well it was another way of getting money out of the tourist’s pockets but we had no other choice than to hire a local guide.

We decided to first take a Gondola ride for which the tickets costs us around Rs.700 per person for the phase 1. The cable car ride was totally worth it.  The 1st phase of the Gondola takes tourists to the height of 8530 ft to Kongdori Station and the second stage of the Gondola goes up to the height of 12293 ft. We felt exhilarated on reaching that height and on the sight of magnificent mountains fully covered in a white blanket of snow. This snow in winter turns this place into a skiers paradise. The natural slopes here are untouched and prove to be a challenge to ace skiers!

Recommended to click on the pictures to see in full screen view.

There were a number of activities for not so professional people like us which however includes skiing, sledging, snow biking, pony ride etc. The snow was shining bright in the sun making it hard to see for the eyes without glares. Also it was required for everyone to wear snow boots to walk in that snow. We rented the boots and tried walking towards the soft snow which was knee level deep at some places. It was too difficult to walk in that snow because the moment we put a step further the leg goes deep inside the snow. Also the chill it gave made the body numb for that moment. I was still loving the experience of playing around in the snow.

On coming back from the peak, we covered other points of interests in a sledge with our guide. There was a temple, a church, a hotel/resort and a frozen lake which were all the famous bollywood movies shooting sights. We also drank the local special tea known as Kahva which somehow pleased our chilling bones. Anyhow, Gulmarg was truly a paradise with all that white shining snow and magnificent thrilling views. A must must visit!

Recommended to click on the pictures to see in full screen view.