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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 films and not surprisingly many Bollywood films have been shot here. It is a hill station, a popular skiing destination in the Baramula district in 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.
Wildflowers 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 the 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 the 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 meters (8,690 ft) is the world's highest golf course.
In 1927, the 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, the Institute of Skiing and Mountaineering was established in Gulmarg to train ski instructors. Over the next decade, Gulmarg became a center for skiers from Asian nations. In the mid-1980s, Heli-skiing was introduced in Gulmarg in collaboration with the French skier Sylvain Saudan of the 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.
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