Gulmarg, a shanty village situated in the Kashmir valley, tops the list of ski destinations in the world as a result of its strategic location between the Himalayan Pir Panjal range and Nanga Parbat (Eng. transl. Naked Mountain). Not surprisingly, Gulmarg changes its landscape in winter and serves as the main hub of winter sports: cross-country, skiing and free-riding.
Gulmarg attracts hundreds of ski enthusiasts from all over the world every year. If you are keen for adventure, an action sport enthusiast and want to feel a knee-jerking swing, skiing is worth trying. Roses in Gulmarg hardly disappear completely in winter, mainly due to climate and rich fertile soil. Ski enthusiasts, however, recall the summer time as if they are skiing on roses. If it’s not satisfying for you, don’t worry, at least you will carry home Himalayan ski nostalgia.
A six-seat gondola connects the Gulmarg ski base station to the Kongdori mid-station and Mount Aphrawat – the final station. Six cable car ski lifts, one chair lift, and five surface lifts provide skiers with the first descent of 1350 meters. Gondola, which is also called cable car lift, is a major attraction as well as the safest, easiest medium for ski adventurers to reach Mount Apharwat, another Himalayan range situated at an incredible height of 4000 meters. This place is a major attraction for skiers and hikers. Ski enthusiasts refresh their lungs while skiing down-hill from such a high mountain and also catch glimpses of the changing faces of the splendid and beautiful Kashmir valley and numerous peaks of the Himalayas ranging from 7000 to 8000 meters. You can experience real Himalayan fine powder slopes in Gulmarg. The upper phase is the most pleasant and exciting phase for skiers as it gives them a steep down-hill and an adventurous heart-throb ski run of about 5 km.
Gondola in Gulmarg has two phases. The upper phase of the gondola terminates close to Mount Aphrawat. The first phase starting from Gulmarg with Kongdori as a mid-station beyond 300 meters costs approximately 2 Euros. A day pass costs about 10 Euros. A day pass to cover both phases costs about 20 Euros. Ski equipment including boots and goggles cost about 10 Euros. It is important to mention a 50 percent discount is applicable to children under 12 years of age. The gondola is functional throughout the year during the summer and winter seasons. The Jammu and Kashmir Tourism official’s report said they have had to remove the gondola occasionally for a planned or unplanned repair. It is however, in this case, possible to hike or take a pony depending on the season or weather. The skiing terrain is almost unlimited, which includes alpine bowls, chutes, cornices, and glade skiing. An epic ski journey down to some of the local shrines and the village adds a new dimension to your skiing expedition. Skis and snowboards are the best for advanced and expert riders who enjoy off-piste background terrain. It is really a hot-spot for adventurers. A ski guide costs about 20 Euros.
Arriving to Gulmarg
The first main station serving as a gateway to Gulmarg is Srinagar. A round trip flight from Delhi to Srinagar costs about 100 Euros. Flight duration time is about two hours. SA luxury Bus coach round trip from Delhi to Srinagar costs 24 Euros. Other sources of transportation are the common bus that starts at Inter State Bus Terminal (ISBT) situated in the old Delhi. The train is the last and most hectic transport available to reach Srinagar. If you are traveling by train or bus, Jammu is the main stop-over on the way to Srinagar. Uproar cheap overnight stay in a hotel in Jammu may vary between 10-20 Euros. The cheapest budget option to reach Srinagar from Jammu is using the tourist cabs with a nominal charge of 10 Euros. India is the country of bargaining, therefore, there is always a possibility of bargaining with prices of a hotel and traveling, except for airlines.
Gulmarg is very well connected to various parts of Jammu and Kashmir. State owned buses, and private tourist luxury buses are the most convenient means of transport to Gulmarg. Tourist taxis and cabs also ply between Srinagar and Gulmarg everyday all year. Due to heavy snow-fall in winter, buses only ply up to the closest shanty town which is Tangmarg, 10 km short-off Gulmarg. The bus from Sringar to Gulmarg costs 4 Euros, while a taxi is about 40 Euros. The nearest railway station is Jammu Tawi situated at a distance of 350 kilometers from Srinagar. An International Airport was set up in Srinagar in 2008. Therefore, today one can arrive directly to Srinagar from overseas. Cut throat expensive private hotels attract domestic and foreign tourists in Gulmarg. Cheap long stay options in Gulmarg are suites and huts that cost less than 50 Euros per night.
International Himlayan Cross-Country
Gulmarg was also a venue of the fourth and fifth National Winter games in 2004 and 2008. Other Winter Games are held in Gulmarg every year. Winter Games Federation of India has declared Gulmarg as Winter Games capital of India. The Federation of International Skiing approved the Himalayan International cross-country skiing championship that was held in Gulmarg in 2005, as factual reports of the Jammu Kashmir Government Tourism Department read.
Gulmarg Ski Resort for Beginners
The Indian Institute of Mountaineering conducts skiing and mountaineering courses in Gulmarg every year. IISM was set up in Gulmarg by the Ministry of Indian Tourism in 1969 with it’s sole aim to promote skiing and mountaineering and to boost the ample tourism protection in Kashmir. Snow ski courses in Gulmarg start from early December and finishe towards the beginning of April. IISM also conducts water skiing in the beautiful lakes of the Kashmir and Ladakh regions of India.
Facts About Gulmarg
Best skiing time: Dec 1 – March 30
Offbeat sight-seeing time: April 1 – July 30
Snowfall: December – January
Altitude: 2690 meters
Temperature: in summer -13 °C up +20 °C, in winter – 2 °C up +9 °C
Clothes: heavy woolen in winter and light woolen in summer
Nearest Airport: Srinagar, 56 km
Nearest Railway Station: Jammu Tawi, 350 km
Nearest Bus Terminal: Gulmarg
Gulmarg Sightseeing: Salatar lake, Hjalmar, Shiva’s temple, Froze Mall, Biosphere Reserve
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