The nearest India can make to being a ski resort is via its pine-fringed Gulmarg. Situated at an elevation of 2730 meters above sea level, it well justifies the Meadow of Flowers tag that it has received. The meadow is given a visual highlight by the 1890s Anglican Church of St Mary’s that sits on a lonely hillock which can be accessed off the dead-end road that links the 1965 neo-colonial style Hotel Highlands Park to the historic Gulmarg Golf Club. However, the key reason to visit Gulmarg is just not the same. You must visit Gulmarg to explore the backing stands of the splendid mature pines traversing you to the elevation of bald Mt Afarwat. To make it to mountain, you can either trek on foot or take help from ponies at a meagre amount of INR 300 per hour. However, the easiest way out is using the two-stage gondola cable car that flutters you to 3747m. The impressive clear day views from the top are worth the ride. During this ride, you’ll encompass Nanga Parbat which is the world’s ninth highest mountain peak located across Pakistan. Booking for this online can help save you from the long queues especially in the peak season of May and June. This service can however be cancelled either due to civil unrest or during bad weather and getting a refund from the organizers can get really annoying then. Base station of Gandola is situated about 1 km west of the bus stand.
Gulmarg endeavors you with more than 40 choices of accommodation each of them beautiful in their own very way. In the months of July, an average room fare (for a night) will be around INR 2000 for the old looking stays and INR 5000 for newer stays. Prices of the hotels see a drop of 20% in the winter season and a further dramatic drop when there is civil unrest in Srinagar or during the less popular months like September.
If you visit Gulmarg do try the the gondola ride as it is a must do! The views are outstanding, everything is very well managed ! Highly recommended.
People Also Ask About Gulmarg
It is true that Jammu and Kashmir tourism assures adequate safety measures and drills for the tourists but the truth is that the arrangement for rescue operation for a skier is only limited. It is thus suggested that you must ski around the earmarked area only.
In case of any injury or danger, ask for help.
When traveling in winters, know that the snow can be very thick. It is thus advisable to carry boots with you. In case you do not have boots, you can rent the rubber boots at any shop along the mountain slope at a price as meagre as INR 20.
You know that the situation in Kashmir is volatile because of the on going disputes between India and Pakistan so it is rather wise to avoid traveling during times of civil unrest.
You may see soldiers all around in Gulmarg so whenever you have a feeling that something is not right, reach out to them.
Monkeys are common on the streets of Gulmarg however they are not really friendly here. So, do not feed them or disturb them as they can get really aggressive.
Roads may be blocked during winters due to snow. It is thus recommended to travel via train or air.
Gather as much information as possible before visiting any new place.
Whenever you make a visit to any unfamiliar territory or a territory with potential danger, don’t do it alone. It is best to take help from established companies that have an authentic record.
Book your trip only with a professional and a competent organization and you can expect to be safe in 99% of potential risk situations.
Alcohol may not be freely available in Gulmarg but can be found in the hotel bars. The legal age for alcohol consumption is 21 years.
Our Recommendations: What you can’t afford to miss?
Gulmarg Biosphere Reserve
Spanning over an area of about 180 sq. km., the Biosphere Reserve is a home to a beautiful variety of some rare and exotic species of avifauna, flora and fauna. It is located at an alternating altitude that goes from 2400 to 4300 meters above the sea level. The main attraction of this park is the endangered Musk Deer. Other animals that can be spotted in this park include Hangul, Brown Bear, Red Fox and Leopard. The area also has a massive population of migratory birds. Some of these include Blue Rock Pigeon Monal, Jungle Crow, Griffon Vulture, European Hoopoe, Kashmir Roller, Snow Cock and Koklas.
Shrine of Baba Reshi
The shrine has been in existence since 13th century and people from all walks of life visit the shrine to seek blessings. You can reach the shrine via a motorable road from Gulmarg. The shrine is dedicated to the Muslim saint and scholar, Baba Reshi who spent his days in prayer and meditation here.
St. Mary’s Church
St. Mary’s Church is one of the star attractions of Gulmarg. It boasts of the impeccable architecture from the Victorian era. You can spot some huts and hotels in the vicinity of the church.
The seven springs is more popularly known for its 7 natural outlets of water. This indeed is one mesmerizing sight. You can get majestic overviews of Gulmarg valley and Srinagar from here.
The Maharani Temple
It is a royal temple that is dedicated to Lord Shiva. One notable feature of this temple is that it can be seen from any part of the Gulmarg.
Alpather is a picturesque natural attraction in Gulmarg. The lake can be a photographer’s delight. Accredited to this enchanting topography, the lake has become the most preferred picnic spot for people of Gulmarg.
What you will like there?
Gulmarg Gandola Ride
This is a ropeway project undertaken jointly by Pomagalski which is a French organization and Jammu and Kashmir government. This is believed to be the longest and the highest cable car plans in Asia. There are 2 stages of the ride. One goes from Gulmarg to Kongdoori and the other one goes from Kongdoori to Apharwat Peak. The first phase takes about 9 minutes to complete whereas the second one takes about 12 minutes to complete.
Gulmarg is the skiing capital of India. In the year 2011, Heli-skiing was launched. It is today a huge rage here. Taking a helicopter ride up to the mountain peak is an adventure in itself and then skiing down the mountain is an adrenaline boosting experience.
Gulmarg has 3 trekking trails – Apharwat, Khilanmarg and Alapther Lake. Do hire a guide as trekking here can be a little harsh for people unfamiliar with the territory.
The Golf Course of Gulmarg is said to be one of the largest golf courses in the 18-hole category. Situated on the lower ranges of the city, it is one of the most loved destinations for golf lovers in India.
Make the most of the lush green surroundings and the meadows and valleys of Gulmarg by having a good picnic here with the family. Simply pack your bag with few goodies and lay your spread in any corner to enjoy a hearty picnic.
During the summer months most of the ski resorts are over crowded. It is therefore recommended to go fishing as Confluence where the streams from River Bahan and Ferozepur Nallah converge.
Outer Circle Walk
This is one of the most popular trekking trails in Gulmarg that covers a distance of 11 km around Gulmarg and the majestic Kashmir Valley. It leads you through the verdant meadows, tall pines and the mesmerizing landscapes.
Your holiday in Gulmarg is incomplete if you haven’t tried tea plucking yet. Visit the terraced tea plantation and sample some Kashmiris doing the activity.
Recommended reads for destination (govt. websites, travel forum articles)
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