Surrounded by the stunning peaks of the Himalayan range, is a majestic hill station and a popular skiing destination called Gulmarg. Gulmarg is a spectacular picnic spot attracted by all kinds of tourists because of its lush green backdrop, beautiful landscapes, breathtaking snow capped mountains and a very pleasant climate during the summers and falls. It offers a range of winter activities like skiing, snowboarding, gondola rides and trekking that everyone would throughly enjoy!
Gulmarg is around 2 hours drive from Srinagar. You can either choose to rent a car or take a local bus to the town. No matter what mean you chose to travel, you will not be able to take your eyes off the view of Gulmarg’s exquisite beauty, its pine surrounded basins, and opulence of blooming flowers as you go uphill. Shepherds rearing the flock of sheep through the green valleys was a treat to watch!
Once you reach the valley, you will either have to walk around or you can choose to enjoy a pony ride. A smarter option is to choose a pony ride since Gulmarg is a pretty huge valley. Since I visited in the fall season, it wasn’t the time for skiing, therefore I chose to go around the valley first and then enjoy my gondola ride in the last.
- Maharaja Palace:
My first stop was the Maharaja Palace. The Palace was built amidst the Alpine conifers and offers breath taking view of the ‘Nanga Parbat’ Mountain. The Palace is constructed by Maharaja Hari Singh in early 20th century. The building shows a synthesis of colonial architectural elements and local detailing, especially in the decorative woodwork. It is said to be an interesting confluence of the British and the Kashmiri Architecture.
- Childrens Park
The next stop was the Children’s park. As the name suggests it is a huge garden surrounded by the stunning peaks. The surrounding meadows are brimming with beauty and the backdrop of snow-capped peaks will make your pictures come alive. A newly developed artificial lake with horses grazing around adorns the park as well.
- Golf Course:
My last stop before the Gondola ride was the Gulmarg Golf course. Situated on the lower ranges of Gulmarg, the golf course with asymmetrical contours is counted amongst the largest 18-hole golf courses in the country. Surrounded by the snow peaked mountains, the lush green bowl is covered with a variety of alpine flowers and is criss crossed by snow fed streams and rivulets which makes it extremely picturesque!
- Gondola Ride:
Last but definitely the most awaited stop was the gondola ride. One of the main attractions of Gulmarg is the Gondola ride which is said to be the highest and largest ropeways in Asia having a total aerial distance of 5 kms. The Gondola ride gives you the most extravagant views of both Gulmarg and Khilanmarg. It captures the beauty and splendour of this place at its best. In order to avoid the long queues during holiday season, make sure you have booked your tickets online. It operates in two phases. The first phase takes you from Gulmarg to Kongdoor. Next, phase 2 brings into the picture the enormous Himalayan Ranges as it goes to a level higher than before and takes you to the Apharwat Mountains. The difference between phase 1 and phase 2 is amazing. On one hand, phase 1 is covered with lush green vegetation and on the other hand, the phase 2 takes your breath away by its magnificent view of the snow capped peaks with barren land. Also from the phase 2, Pakistan administrated Kashmir is also visible. Be ready with your camera because you won’t be able to stop yourself from taking innumerable pictures of the mind blowing view. The oxygen level goes down as you go further ahead therefore, do not opt for this ride if you suffer from a medical condition. Get down and walk around the base camp. Once done with the Gondola ride, go back to where you were dropped off in the morning.
The experience I had in gulmarg is pretty much visible through the photographs I took. Gulmarg might be an expensive trip but trust me, it’s worth it. Where did I go next? Well, that you have to find out from my next blog.