Gulmarg - Meadow of Flowers

ABOUT GULMARG

Gulmarg is located 52 kms south west of the capital city of Srinagar and lies close to the Indo-Pakistan border area. Immensely beautiful, the landscape of Gulmarg offers a pleasant and comfortable stay to its visitors. Today the place has been famous for the different adventure activities and gives a fabulous background to many bollywood movies. The original name of Gulmarg was gaurimarg. Its name was changed by Yousuf Shah Chak after collecting 21 kinds of flowers. Gulmarg, "Meadow of Flowers", was discovered in the 16th century during the reign of Sultan Yousuf Shah. Historians describe the famous love couples, Habba Khatoon, poetess of Kashmir and King Yousuf Shah Chak, and Jehangir and Noor Jehan visiting Gulmarg for enjoying life. Gulmarg is on full bloom during the Summer with flowers like bluebells and daisies. This wonderland of nature was first discovered in the year 1927 by the Britishers as a place of recreation and relaxation amidst the glory of nature during pre independence India.

During summer months Gulmarg is famous for its highest green golf course in the world which is at an altitude of 2732 mtrs. since 1972, proved by the famous Australian golfer Mr. Peter thomson who played golf at Gulmarg. Gulmarg, blessed with nature- the magical meadows and the snow capped mountains is a wonderful tourist destination in the world. One of the best adventure destinations of Kashmir, Gulmarg is called the Meadow of Flowers. The towering peaks provide the required background to the landscape of Gulmarg which is one of the finest heli-skiing resorts in the whole of Asia.

Gulmarg is having the best ski resort in the country. The place maintains the standards naturally friendly service for which Kashmir is famed. It has been identified as the european skiing resort in the past. It holds a position as one of the highest lift served ski resorts in the world. Kashmir is also one of world's best heli skiing regions with thousands of possible 2200 meter descents. Gulmarg hosts several national winter games championships. The slopes provide excellent opportunities to cross country and downhill skiing events. The resort has modern infrastructure which helps in keeping the slopes fit for skiing and other winter sports related activities all times.

The gentle slopes, having runs of upto 200 meters, are the best for beginners while the steeper runs of 500 meters for intermediate level skiers, and yet other stretches of over 2500 meters, precipitously steep, for top level skiers. T-bars and chair lifts, on five runs for beginners and intermediates, are operated throughout the day. Gulmarg also offers heli-skiing, being the first destination in Asia to do so. A helicopter takes you upto the apherwat peak from where you choose your own descent route.

In winters you can use toboggans, sledges, snow cycles and Snow Scooters to get on the next level of Adventure, fun and excitement that snow generates. The tempting ski doos are used for patrolling during winter. Visitors can try their luck for a ride on one of these. Gulmarg is famous among skiers for its unique powdery snow, natural slopes and suitable combination of snow with sunshine. British Army Officers, Maj. Metcarp and Maj. Hadow, set up the first Ski Club at Gulmarg in 1927. Today, every ski event from Giant Slalom to lnternational standard cross-country is organised in Gulmarg. Ski Training Courses are organised by J&K Youth Services & Sports and Indian Institute of Skiing & Mountaineering having offices in Gulmarg and Srinagar. The skiing courses generally start from December when substantial volume of snow is present. Championships are also organised by some private resort owners in Gulmarg. Ski equipment is available at government- run ski shops and private ones as well. T-Bar ski lifts are available for beginners and intermediate skiers Professional skiiers passionately ski down from the Apharwat mountain base and snow board lovers try sliding from Kongdori and around Gulmarg, enticing watchers to try their feet on the board.

TOURIST ATTRACTIONS
1) Kongdori - Gulmarg Gondola: Gulmarg Gondola, one of the main attractions of Gulmarg is the second highest cable car in the world. The Gondola ride gives you the most extravagant views of Gulmarg and Khilanmarg combined. The cable car rides are definitely the epitome of capturing the beauty and splendor of this place. The 1st phase of the Gondola takes tourists to the height of 8530 ft to Kongdori Station and the second stage of the Gondola goes up to the height of 12293 ft. Tourists can enjoy horse riding and can go riding to the magnificent "Strawberry Valley", Leopards Valley and ride up to "Kongdori" to see the frozen lake of "Al- Pathar".

2)Skiing in Gulmarg: Gulmarg is a beautiful location placed in Jammu and Kashmir where one may go along with family and friends and enjoy the beautiful view along with other adventure sports. The lift system is quite simple in Gulmarg. During blizzards, beautifully characterised open spaces in the forest terrain can be skied below Gulmarg which may lead you to the local shrines. Apart from all the mesmerising view, you may try skiing, use the Gulmarg gondola once, skin a few km along, hike the rest and take a cab for the remaining. Gulmarg is gaining popularity and number of skiers are also increasing day by day. Having the mountain to oneself is a thing of the past, hence being alert and pro-active is adviced.

3)Khilanmarg: Only 6km from the Gulmarg bus station, Khilanmarg is a little paradise carpeted with flowers of varied colors in spring which changes into a skier's dream destination in the winters. The peaks are in clear view from the skiing slopes and they provides a beautiful background to the amusement. Also, the famed Nanga Parbat which is 7100m high is close to it and helps create a perfect scenic photograph

4)Maharani Temple: Situated in the middle of Gulmarg, the Maharani temple is an example of religions intertwined with a Muslim priest performing rituals in the temple. Maharani Temple was built by Mohini Bai Sisodhi, wife of Maharaja Hari Singh in 1915. This temple belongs to the Dogra Kings of Jammu & Kashmir.

5) Alpathar Lake: At the foot of Apharwat peak, it is a one day trek from Gulmarg (13km). The lake stays frozen during winters with striking scenic views. Ducks are seen walking instead of swimming and large chunks of ice float in the lake. During summers, the lake is surrounded with beautiful flowers and trees. One of the most surreal lakes, it is a haven for the likes of photographers, philosophers, poets or people looking for solitude.

6) Ningli Nalla: Situated 10 km from Gulmarg, Ningle Nallah is not just another mountain stream. This place is flanked with snow-capped mountains and lush green pastures from all four sides. The water formed by the melting of ice in Apharwat Peak and Alpather Lake is the main source of Ningle Nallah. After passing through mountains and valleys, this stream unites with River Jhelum. This place is highly recommended for family outings especially if one has their kids along.

7)Ziarat of Baba Reshi: This shrine built in the 13th century is on the slopes below Gulmarg. The Ziarat or the tomb is of a well-known Muslim saint, Baba Payam-Uddin who died here in 1480. He was a courtier to the Kashmir King Zain-ul-Abidin before taking the path of renouncing the worldly ties. With thousands of devotees visiting this shrine every year, regardless of the religion they follow, this shrine buzzes with activities.

8) Tangmarg: It is the famous stop-over enroute to Gulmarg. It connects Gulmarg by a 13km metal road and an exciting 5km trekking route. During winters, warm clothes, long boots and water proofs are available on hire.

9)St. Mary Church: Standing tall, even after a 100 odd years, is this Victorian architectural wonder of the Saint Mary's Church located near the Golf Course in Gulmarg. This might well be your messiah to experiencing the ancient architectural wonders that our country is the most renowned for. More like a tiny countryside chapel in appearance, this church is made of grey stone walls. The church looks the most scintillating during the winter season especially when it is surrounded by snow.

10)Golf Course: Famed as the highest 18 hole golf course in the world, this golf course is also the longest in India. Situated at an altitude of 8700 feet above sea level, this place was used to play golf by Britishers since 1911 and the golf course was inaugurated formally in 2011. The golf course is very beautiful and consists of a meadow with various varieties of beautiful and rare species of flowers. The flowers are in full bloom during the months of June to September.

11) Gulmarg Biosphere Reserves: This protected reserve is situated 48 km from Srinagar and is the home to many exotic and rare species of the world including musk deer, snow leopard, etc. The reserve boasts of its rich avi-fauna population which are a beautiful sight during the months of migration.

12) Ferozpur Nallah: Ferozepur Nallah is another exquisite mountain stream flowing through the valleys between the beautiful Chinamarg and Nurpur Pass. This Nallah is quite famous for its activity of trout fishing that takes place over here in summers.