beauty, prime location and proximity to Srinagar naturally make it
one of the premier hill resorts in the country. Originally called
‘Gaurimarg’ by shepherds, its present name was given in the 16th
century by Sultan Yusuf Shah, who was inspired by the sight of its
grassy slopes emblazoned with wild flowers. Gulmarg was a
favorite haunt of Emperor Jehangir who once collected 21
different varieties of flowers from here. Today Gulmarg is not
merely a mountain resort of exceptional beauty- it also has the
highest green golf course in the world, at an altitude of 2,650 m,
and is the country's premier ski resort in the winter
journey to Gulmarg is half the enchantment of reaching there--
roads bordered by rigid avenues of poplar give over to flat
expanses of rice fields interspersed with picturesque villages.
Depending on the season, nature's colours could be the translucent
green of spring, summer’s rich emerald, or autumn’s golden hues,
when scarlet chilies festoon windows of village homes. After
Tangmarg, the climb to Gulmarg begins through fir-covered
hillsides. At one point, known simply as View Point, travelers
generally stop their vehicles for a few minutes and look out a
spectacle of snow-covered mountains, almost within touching
Gulmarg looks like a fantasy set in a film and not surprisingly
have been the venue of several films. The valley of Gulmarg, a
large meadow about 3-sq-kms in area, stands at 2,730 metres, 56-km
south west of Srinagar . The name means 'Meadow Of Flowers' and in
the spring it's just that, a rolling meadow dotted with countless
colourful Bluebells, Daisies, Forget Me Not's and Buttercups. The
valley itself is about 3-km long and up to a km wide.
Take a Hike!
All around are snow-capped mountains, and on a clear day one can
see all the way to Nanga Parbat is one direction and Srinagar is
another. It's a popular day trip from Srinagar to Gulmarg,
although many people extend their stay or use it as a base for
trekking. The road from Srinagar rises gently towards the lower
slopes of the range, passing through rice and maize fields.
From Tangmarg, at the foot of the range, there are two paths to
Gulmarg - a steep footpath or a winding sealed road. There is also
a pony track from Gulmarg that leads upwards to Khilanmarg,
Kongdori and seven springs.
This smaller valley is about a 6-km walk from the Gulmarg bus stop
and car park. The meadow, carpeted with flowers in the spring, is
the site for Gulmarg's winter ski runs and offers a fine view of
the surrounding peaks and over the Kashmir Valley. It's a
600-metre ascent from Gulmarg to Khilanmarg and during the early
spring, as the snow melts, it can be a very muddy hour's climb up
the hill. The effort is rewarded, if it's clear, with a sweeping
view of the great Himalayas from Nanga Parbat to the twin
7,100-metre peaks of Nun and Kun to the southeast.
Beyond Khilanmarg, 13-km from Gulmarg at the foot of the twin 4,
511 metre Apharwat peaks, this lake is frozen until mid-June and
even later in the year one can see lumps of ice floating in its
cold waters. The walk from Gulmarg follows a well-graded Pony
track over the 3, 810 metre Apharwat ridge, separating it from
Khilanmarg, and then up the valley to the lake at 3,843 metres.
The more adventurous trekkers can climb straight up the
boulder-strewn slope of the ridge and descend the other side to
the path. For horse riding aficionados, Alpather Lake makes an
exciting day's excursion, starting early morning and returning
The Ningli Nallah:
Flowing from the melting snow and ice on Apharwat and the Alpather
Lake, this pretty mountain stream is 8-km from Gulmarg. The stream
continues down into the valley below and joins the Jhelum River
near Sopur. This long, grassy valley is a popular picnic spot and
the walking path carries on, crossing the Ningli (also spelt as
Ningle) Nallah by a bridge and continues on to the Khilenmarg,
another grassy meadow and a good spot for camping. In early summer
one will probably share the campsites with Gujars moving their
herds up to the high meadows.
Reached from the Tangmarg road, or from the Outer Circular Walk,
this mountain stream meets the Bahan River at a popular picnic
spot known as 'waters meet'. The stream is reputed to be
particularly good for trout fishing; it's about five km down the
valley from Gulmarg but quite close to Tangmarg. The river can be
reached by walking 3-km down the path from the gap near Tangmarg
and then heading south through the forest, down a slope towards
Near here there is a bridge which leas to the small waters meet
picnic spot on the right bank. Looking south from Tangmarg the
river can be traced up to its source close to the rugged peak
known as Ferozpore or Shinmahinyu. On the right bank the stream
branches, the left path leading to Tosa Maidan, while the right
bends away towards the Gogaldara road at a second bridge, about
32-km upstream, and then leads away to the Ferozpore pass, Poonch
and Kantar Nag.
One can continue on from here to Tosa Maidan, a three day, 50-km
walk to one of Kashmir's most beautiful Marg's, crossing the
Basmai Gali pass at about 4,000 metres. The track here is very
close to the ceasefire line with Pakistan and on the right one
will pass the Jamainwali Gali, the pass at 4,000 metres is one of
the easiest and safest routes into the Punjab.
Shrine Of Baba Reshi / Ziarat Of Baba Reshi :
This Muslim shrine is on the slopes below Gulmarg and can be
reached from either Gulmarg or Tangmarg. The Ziarat, or tomb, is
of a well-known Muslim saint who died here in 1480. Before
renouncing worldly ways he was a courtier of the Kashmir King
Zain-ul-Abidin. Every year thousands of devotees visit this shrine
regardless of the faith they believe in.
In winter, Gulmarg acquires a new persona - that of the country's
premier skiing resorts. Skiing, to many who watch it on TV, seems
like a very elitist sport, requiring a high level of training and
expensive equipment. They are surprised, when they visit Gulmarg
for a day's expedition to "see the snow", that others with the
same level of physical fitness and training are skiing down
slopes. Gulmarg is the ultimate beginner's skiing resort. One
doesn't requite a heavy woolen wardrobe - slacks or a Salwar
Kameez will do fine. In Gulmarg one will also be able to drift to
one of the many Ski shops and hire skis, sticks and goggles. Just
find yourself a ski instructor and set off down a slope.
Neither does one need to exert oneself climbing up slopes. The
gentlest slope of 200m is linked with a ski lift, which helps one
to go up. When one graduates to intermediate level - which will
happen after the first few days of practice, there are other
slopes, longer and steeper, which are connected by chair lift. The
longest ski run in Gulmarg is provided by the Gondola cable car,
which allows a ski run of 2,213m.
TO GET THERE
is in Baramula District and is 56-kms from Srinagar District . The
nearest Airport from here is situated in Badgam District, which is
well connected with all the major cities of the country.
Rail: The nearest railhead is at Jammu.
Road: The journey from Srinagar to Gulmarg takes
approximately 2 hours in bus and may take short time by chartered
conveyance. The road to Gulmarg is very beautiful and is lined
with poplar trees all through. All sorts of transport are
available to Gulmarg from Srinagar bus stand at Batmallo and from
private transport operators