This winter take a trip to Gulmarg. You can’t miss to visit a destination that has received an award for the Asia’s seventh best ski destination by CNN International – a destination beyond skier’s imagination.
During winter months, it is all happening at the world famous ski resort 56 km south west of Srinagar.
You will watch heli-skiers sliding down from the mountain peaks, kids sloping it along on the baby slope, burly boys running in shorts for rugby thrill on the beaten snow while the artists turn the atmosphere musical under sub-zero temperature at the wonderful natural setting of sprawling snow meadows at Gulmarg.
The powder snow at an altitude of the above 14000-feet high on Pir Panjal range attracts adventure lovers from across the world.
The resort is famous because of its “Gulmarg Gondola” ropeway project.
The ropeway stretching 2.5 km connects the bowl-shaped Kongdoori valley with Afarwat. It’s the world’s highest cable car using gondolas and the only one in the world that takes skiers and tourists to a height of 4,390 m.
From November onwards, the snow will turn the lush green meadows into a white carpet. The snow accumulates as high as 8-feet by January and February which experts describe as a “skiing destination beyond imagination”.
The extreme skiers board helicopter from the snow bowl and fly to peak of the mountain only to snake down mountain while negotiating hundreds of snow-burdened conifers down the hill. The thrill can only be imagined.
The festive environment of the winter sports also attracts artists from the country who sing different musical notes to entertain tourists. Every year, Tourism Department Kashmir makes elaborate arrangements for the winter sports and musical events at this world’s most beautiful snow bowl.
Government is also making every effort to popularize the Gulmarg as the winter destinations besides keeping available the state of art facility for the skiers.
“There is a good response to the heli-skiing at Gulmarg. We have best slopes in Gulmarg which attracts huge number adventure sports lovers from Europe and America,” said Majeed Bakshi who runs Himalaya Sports-an adventure sports company.
Gulmarg also receives good rush of the domestic tourists who enjoy skiing while at least six sports bodies provide training to youth in skiing, snowboarding and ice-skating.
The best part is that the skiing which is an expensive sport and hobby is very economical at Gulmarg. For Rs 1500 ($23), a skier can hire skiing equipments and have a gondola ride also to the second stage for a day.
Besides other sports bodies, Indian Institute of Skiing and Mountaineering (IISM) imparts training to visitors drawn from across India for skiing at Gulmarg. The institute has a state of art building providing accommodation in the centrally heated rooms to more than 100 participants for one batch.
The IISM also houses ski shops and has latest equipments including snow scooters and snow clearing machines for the smooth conduct of the training course. The fee for the 15-day course is very nominal and anybody from India can participate for the training.
The popularity of the Gulmarg as a best winter sports destination also attracts many companies from India to organize music festival.
Last season, India’s leading rock bands, reggae artists, jazz & blues, brought warmth to the sub-zero temperature on the white carpet with music fusion.
During the festival tuneful voices of Indian artists including the local Kashmiri new breed of bands warmed the atmosphere while traditional artists entertained the audience with folklore, chakri, Rouf, ladishah and sufiana kalam using traditional musical instruments.
Not only this, Gulmarg is perhaps the only place in Kashmir which has given new dimensions to adventure sports by introducing snow cycling, snow rugby and snow baseball.
Likewise, winter sports in Kashmir also witnesses snow cycling where bikers paddle along on the beaten track of the snow capped mountain.
Available from Srinagar (Batmaloo bus stand) buses operate to Tangmarg which is just few miles away from Gulmarg. From Tangmarg there is a regular service of buses and taxi to Gulmarg.
Taxi / MUV / SUMO
Direct Taxi / MUV service is also available from Srinagar (Batmaloo bus stand).
Prepaid Taxi / MUV is available from Srinagar International Airport and Tourist Reception Center.