Gulmarg

Gulmarg or the 'Valley of Flowers' is considered as one of the most beautiful hill resorts in India. It is aptly placed in the Baramulla District of Kashmir, and about 57 km from Srinagar by car. The ‘Meadow of Flowers’, which Gulmarg is popularly referred to as, is touted as one of the best tourist attractions in the world owing to its awe-inspiring scenic extravagance and a number of other attractive tourist spots as well.

Gulmarg is often positioned as a Prime Winter Destination of India, perched at an altitude of 2,730 meters above sea level. Its legendary beauty and close proximity to Srinagar, is what makes Gulmarg famous as one of the most sought after Indian tourist Resort Destinations.

Gulmarg or 'Gaurimarg', as the Shepherds would call it, was discovered by Sultan Yusuf Shah during the 16th Century. He was highly inspired by its scenic sight blessed with lush slopes embedded with wild flowers and hence transformed it into one of the Imperial summer retreat. Even Mughal Emperor Jahangir would often visit Gulmarg for relaxation and savoring its exotic verdant landscape. Since then, Gulmarg is deemed as the most beautiful Hill Resort as a premier ski resort of India. This region gets instantly enveloped with snow during the winter season giving it an appearance of a picture-perfect postcard setting.

The Ski Resort and the Ski Club of India in Gulmarg was established and set up by the British in 1927. Since then, Skiing in Gulmarg has triggered an instant rush of tourists and ski enthusiasts during the ski season. Gulmarg was a highly popular skiing ground pre-independence that often witnessed ski race competitions held every Christmas and Easter with over 500 skiers participating in the year 1938 – 39 alone. Even today, Gulmarg has made a mark for itself as one of the most visited ski resorts in the world lending an atmosphere that can be identified with the popular European ski resorts of the 1940s.

Gulmarg is also a learning ground for many novice skiers and conducts skiing lessons on prior notification. This region features some of the best smooth slopes apt for beginners and intermediate skiers alike. You are serviced by chair and ski as most of the skiing activities is centered over slopes that cannot be accessed by foot alone. The ski run stretches from 200 to 900 meters long giving anyone a good run across the snow-covered slopes and not forgetting excellent high quality ski equipments, boots, gloves, and goggles, available on hire from the Government-operated ski store. You can also opt for a trained ski instructor to give you a hand at guiding you through the slopes using the right technique.
 
Initially there were a number of ski slopes that are not serviced by chair and ski lifts and hence, were mostly accessed on foot by trained skiers owing to its serene aspect making the non-accessible region even more intriguing. Trained skiers would climb afoot to the top of the Apharwat range slopes and make a steep descent that can last for just about 30 minutes. It was only recently that the Gondola Cable Car setup has allowed many of the non-accessible areas open for skiing making Gulmarg the highest lift-serviced ski resort in the world offering a downhill ski-run of about 5.2 km from an altitude of 14,000 feet commencing from atop the Apharwat range. Gulmarg has also earned a name for featuring the longest Gondola Cable car served ski-lift in Asia.
 
Apart from Skiing in Gulmarg, tourists can also enjoy sledge-riding mostly pulled over gentler slopes along the snow covered trails. Tobogganing requires no skill as it makes use of a flat wooden board that you can take uphill and slide downhill sitting on it. Snowboarding is another exciting winter snow sport that was recently introduced in Gulmarg.

Other fun activities in Gulmarg is creating your own snowman and enjoying camp fires around it with a setup of music, dance, and feasting. With such activities to look forward to in Gulmarg, tourists are welcomed to this winter sojourn enveloped in a friendly atmosphere apt for people of all ages, families, friends, and even for an official offsite.

Heli-skiing was first introduced in Gulmarg during the mid 1980s and was set up in collaboration with Sylvain Saudan, a world renowned French skier and member of the Himalaya Heli-Ski Club, France. This exciting sport take skiers, by helicopters, to the top of a mountain ridge from where they can enjoy a downhill ski run over the majestic Himalayan slopes. Gulmarg is therefore deemed as the winter sports capital of India conferred by the Winter Games Federation of India, recognizing the need to highlight and organize winter sports in Gulmarg, India in order to boost J&K Tourism.

The Best time to visit Gulmarg is between May and September and from November to February. Gulmarg is accessible from Badgam District, the nearest airport and from Jammu, the nearest railhead. Regular buses ply from the Batmallo bus stand from where you can hire taxis to Srinagar and to Gulmarg respectively.

Accommodation in Gulmarg is readily available on advance booking and you can opt from a range of comfortable stay at any one of the private Hotels or the well equipped JKTDC tourist huts.

Excursions from Kashmir