Gulmarg legendary beauty, prime location and proximity to Srinagar naturally make it one of Asia’s premier hill resorts.Originally called ‘Gaurimarg’ by shepherds, Gulmarg was discovered in the 16th century by Sultan Yusuf Shah, who was inspired by the sight of its grassy slopes emblazoned with wild flowers.
Gondola Lift is considered as one of the major attractions of Gulmarg. Designed in technical collaboration with a French Company PUMA, and managed by the Jammu and Kashmir Cable Car Corporation, it is the only cable car system in Asia that travels up an elevation of 13,500 ft above sea level. It is located on the backdrop of the beautiful Himalayan Peaks in the Gondola Village of Gulmarg. The Gondola covers the distance from Gulmarg to Kongdoor and from Kongdoor to Apharwat.
This cable lift service comprises 2 stretches that travel a total distance of 5 km. Completed in May 2005, the second stage of the Gulmarg-Apharwat cable car project links Kongdoor station at 3,099 m with Apharwat at 3,979 m. Between Kongdoor and Apharwat, the vertical rise is 880 m.
Gulmarg Ski Area
About 35 kilometres away from Srinagar, is the Gulmarg hill resort, which is a part of the Pir Panjals Himalayan range. Heavy snowfall in this region has made it a favourite ski area for foreign as well as inland residents.
Anyone coming here is spellbound at the spectacular view of the snow peaks. The skiing area consists of the gondola terrain, lower tree skiing areas and the poma terrain in the town. A good option is to go and ski in the old fir and pine trees that take you into the valley. It is also possible to do heli-ski type runs from great heights off a gondola. Apart from skiing, snowboarding, tobogganing, snow scooters and snow bobbing are popular activities seen here.
Imambara Goom, Alpather Lake, St Mary's Church, Gulmarg Biosphere Reserve, Baba Reshi Shrine, golf course, Apharwat Peak are other interesting sites in this region.
Though Gulmarg is equally attractive both in summer as well as in winter, skiing is always more fun in winters. Tourists who plan to stay in the ski area can get many comfortable hotels and guest houses here. Otherwise, there are lots of tour operators arranging day trips from Srinagar to Gulmarg.
Apharwat Peak, 13500 feet high, is a famous tourist destination located at thirteen km away from Gulmarg. This snow covered mountain lies close to the Line of Control (LOC) with Pakistan. Apharwat slopes are the longest and the highest ski slopes of Asia and is a destination of ski enthusiasts from all over the world.
To transport the visitors to the top there is a cable car service called Gondola which operates in two levels. First level takes one from Gulmarg to Kongdoor for INR 100/- and second level from Kongdoor to Apharwat for INR 250/- , all being one-way charges. A full day pass costs INR 1000/-. The Gondola with 36 six seat cabins lifts through 1330 m height and covers nearly 5 km distance to level two at 3980 m on Apharwat Peak. A thirty-minute walk will take one to the actual peak.
Skiing on the snow slopes is possible in north-west and southeast directions. For the less adventurous ones slopes from level one are gentler. There is facility for horse riding around Lake Alpather.
Golf Course in Gulmarg, situated at a height of 2,650 mabove sea level, is the highest green golf course in the world. This 18-hole golf course is completely managed by the Jammu and Kashmir Tourism Development Corporation. Temporary membership, even for one day, is available at the club for the golfers.
Gulmarg golf course, counted among the most beautiful golf courses in India, is composed of both slopes and inclines. This golf club was started by the British who used Gulmarg as a holiday resort. In 1904, this golf course was opened to the golf lovers. In 1922, first Golf Championship was organised at this golf course.
Baba Reshi Shrine
Baba Reshi Shrine, dedicated to the saint, Baba Reshi, is a mosque dating from 1480. Saint Baba Reshi was a Muslim scholar, who served as a major courtier during the reign of King Zain-ul-Abidin, King of Kashmir.
This religious building displays a mix of Persian and Mughal architectural designs. It is also famous for its internal wooden works of unique style, which beautifies the tomb. The shrine is placed in the green lawns, which is large enough to accommodate many thousand devotees at a time.
It is located on the slopes of the mountains, between Gulmarg and Tangmarg. Placed at a height of 2,133 mabove sea level, this place can be reached by tourists through local modes of transportation like sledges and field chutes.