|Facts and Figures|
|Best time to visit||Throughout the year (November-February for skiing)|
THE FLOWERY SLOPES
Gulmarg derives its root from “the meadow of flowers” and is indeed a picturesque location. Known for its unparalleled beauty, Gulmarg’s virgin forests are a welcoming sight to all tourists. The lush green slopes, their silence broken by the occasional tinkling of cowbells, have been the locale for several films. The rich verdure with the snow-capped tips provide an ideal ambience for the skiing and winter sports.
Located in the northernmost state of Jammu and Kashmir, Gulmarg is in the Baramulla district, 57 km southwest from the capital city of Srinagar. It is perched at an altitude of 2730 meters above sea level and is not very far from the Indo-Pakistan border. It has a gently sloping topography generally identified with European skiing of the 1940s and 1950s.
SITES TO VISIT
From Gulmarg, a pony track leads upwards to Khilanmarg, Kongdori and Seven Springs. It takes a couple of hours by pony, and slightly longer on foot. Khilanmarg offers an unparalleled view of the great Himalayan range. From here, across the Apharwat-the peak that looks up from this point-is Alpather Lake, a picturesque alpine lake that remains frozen until late June. It is located at a distance of about 13 km from Gulmarg. For horse riding freaks, Alpather Lake makes an exciting day's excursion, and one has to start early morning and return by late evening. Slightly lower than Gulmarg is the shrine of Baba Reshi (a Muslim mystic saint), which is visited by people of all faiths.
WHAT TO DO
With the first fall of snow, the highlands are transformed into a glittering winter wonderland, the country's premier arena for action-packed skiing. Gulmarg has slopes varying between 8,700 and 10,500 feet with the highest ski runs in India. Meant only for beginners, Gulmarg ski-lifts and chair-lifts provide basic utilitarian facilities with a simple link-up .Those who enjoy the exhilaration of height will therefore have to make their own way up. However, what is of a particularly high quality is Gulmarg's ski-shop with professional equipment imported from Australia and France that are offered for hire. Facilities are also being provided for skiing at Pahalgam and work on an institute of mountaineering and winter sports is already underway.
Asia's only heli-skiing resort is at Gulmarg, The gentle slopes, having runs of up to 200 meters, are best for beginners while the steeper runs of 500 meters are meant for intermediate-level skiers, and other stretches of over 2,000 meters, precipitously steep, are for top-level skiers. A helicopter takes the tourists to the Apharwat peak from where one can choose one’s own descent route. As far as the statistics of Gulmarg go, it has a vertical drop of 1400 meters (4,592 feet) and a top elevation of 4,138 meters (13,576 feet). The Gondola Cable Car that allows a ski run of 2,213 meters provides the longest ski run in Gulmarg.
Gulmarg also has one of the world's highest green golf courses, as well as a clubhouse that is a historical building in its own right. For the amateur golfer, there are golf sets on hire, pros to instruct one in the game, and temporary memberships, including one-day memberships. For a fun-filled ride of a most unusual kind, Gulmarg's newly constructed gondola lift through pine-clad slopes is an experience of a lifetime.
HOW TO REACH
The nearest airport is in Srinagar. This airport is connected with major cities of the country. The nearest railhead is at Jammu. The journey from Srinagar to Gulmarg via National Highway 1 takes about 2 hours by bus and an even shorter time by chartered conveyance. The road is lined with poplar trees all through.
WHERE TO STAY
Gulmarg houses a number of hotels that offer good accommodation and meals. Hotels of international standards are also available. JKTDC (Jammu and Kashmir Tourist Development Corporation) has huts on the offer at Gulmarg and all these properties require advance booking from Srinagar when the season is on. Assistance for booking accommodation can be had from the booking manager at tourist reception center in Srinagar. The accommodation available there suits all budgets. One should not miss the opportunity of tasting the traditional Rogan Josh and other preparations in non-vegetarian and sweetmeats while visiting Gulmarg.
For an amateur, Gulmarg is the ultimate destination for skiing. While outfits like slacks and salwar kameez will suffice for skiing, other accessories like skis and sticks, snow boots, woolen socks, mufflers, windproof jackets, goggles, and caps are available on hire. Ski instructors are readily available to assist during skiing.
Although, Gulmarg is a perfect skier’s heaven, it has been torn apart by recent bouts of terrorism. While there have been many reports of foreign tourists being kidnapped, local tourists are also at the danger of the extremists. One is therefore advised to check out the law and order situation before making any plans for visiting the area.
|Adventure Tours of India|