Gulmarg, a huge cup shaped lush green meadow, where the silence is broken only by the tinkle of cowbells and ponies. Gulmarg looks like a fantasy and adventurous set of film and not surprisingly many Bollywood films have been shot here.
Gulmarg is a town, a hill station, a popular skiing destination in Baramula district in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. It lies at an altitude of 2,650 m (8,690 ft) above sea level in the Pirpanjal range in the western Himalayas. Originally named Gaurimarg ("the fair one") by shepherds in honor of the Hindu goddess Parvati, the place was renamed Gulmarg (“meadow of flowers”) by Sultan Yusuf Shah of the Chak Dynasty who frequented the place with his queen Habba khatoon in the 16th century.
Wild flowers of 21 different varieties were collected by the Mughal emperor Jahangir for his gardens in Gulmarg. The soil in Gulmarg comprises glacial deposits, lacustrine deposits and moraines of pleistocene era covering shales, limestones, sandstones, schists and other varieties of rocks.
In the 19th century, British civil servants started using Gulmarg as a retreat to escape summers in North Indian plains. Hunting and golfing were their favorite pastime and three golf courses were established in Gulmarg including one exclusively for women. One of the three golf courses established survives to the present day and at an altitude of 2,650 metres (8,690 ft) is the world's highest golf course. In 1927, British established a ski club in Gulmarg and two annual ski events were hosted one each during Christmas and Easter. Central Asian explorer Aurel Stein also visited Gulmarg during this period.
In 1968, Institute of Skiing and Mountaineering was established in Gulmarg to train ski instructors. Over the next decade, Gulmarg became a centre for skiers from Asian nations. In mid-1980s, Heli-skiing was introduced in Gulmarg in collaboration with the French skier Sylvain Saudan of Himalaya Heli-Ski Club of France.
Gulmarg now also features a Chair Lift from Kongdori to Mary Shoulder, having 90 chairs covering a distance of 1.6 kilometers in 11 minutes. Winter sports like Skiing, Tobogganing, Snowboarding and Heli-skiing take place on the slopes of Mount Apharwat (at a height of 4,267 m (13,999 ft)) reachable by a Gondola lift. Built by the French company Pomagalski, the Gulmarg Gondola is one of the highest in the world reaching 3,979 meters. Many points on Apharwat peak and Khilanmarg offer a panoramic view of Nanga Parbat and Harmukh mountains. According to CNN, Gulmarg is the "heartland of winter sports in India" and was rated as Asia's seventh best ski destination.
The official language is Urdu, but locals here also speak Kashmiri, Hindi, English and Pahari. The best time to visit Gulmarg is during summer months (May to September). An annual three-day Gulmarg Winter Festival is held in March. Budding artists in the fields of music, films and photography are given an opportunity to showcase their work during the festival. For winter sports activities, winter months (from November to February) are ideal.
The nearest railway station is in Jammu and the nearest airport is in Srinagar, Srinagar Airport (SXR). The road journey from Srinagar to Gulmarg takes approximately 2 hours. The road to Gulmarg is very beautiful and is lined with poplar trees all through. On the way is the town of Tangmarg, a key tourist attraction and also a main destination for skiers riding down from Gulmarg during the winter months.
- Apharwat peak
- Outer circle walk
- Gulmarg gondola
- Gulmarg alpine guide
- Gulmarg ski resort
- Ningle nallah
- Ferozepur nallah
- Imambara goom