Gulmarg also has one of the world's highest green golf
courses, as well as a clubhouse, which is a historical
building in its own right. For the would-be golfer, there are
golf sets on hire, pros to instruct one in the game, and
temporary memberships. Naturally, these facilities are
available to players as well, except that serious golfers
usually carry their sets along.
For a fun filled ride of a most unusual kind, Gulmarg's newly
constructed Gondola lift from high above Gulmarg, through pine
clad slopes, is exhilarating.
Established in the
early days of the British rule by Sir Neville Chamberlain,
K.C.B., the Gulmarg Golf Club has attracted golfers for almost
a century. It .is almost as if god intended a golf course at
Gulmarg when he created it: a lush green bowl covered with a
variety of alpine flowers and crises crossed by snow fed
streams and rivulets; gently undulating slopes carpeted with a
natural mossy turf, and a crisply cool bracing weather! What
more could a golfer ask for?
Redesigned by the
famous golf architect, Peter Thompson, Gulmarg now has a 6,760
yards, par 72, 18 hole golf course. The highest course in the
world, it also boasts of India's longest hole, a par five, 610
yards. Unlike most of the other par-fives on the Gulmarg
course, the eighth plays much longer than its 610 yards
because of the uphill factor. The green course includes not
only the pre-defined rivulets, streams and ponds, but also
herds of sheep which eliminate the need for lawn mowers and
keep the fairways in top condition. A golfer at Gulmarg also
has to beware of the local crow which does not hesitate before
taking off with a ball from the fairway, presumably mistaking
it for an egg.
The most interesting
and trying hole on the Gulmarg course is undoubtedly the 17th.
Although not very long, it calls for some precise hitting to
land on the green which is precariously placed on the edge of
a cliff. The 18th hole, a par five, is an exhilarating
experience. It's downhill travel from St. Mary's Church to the
club house, a drop of 300 feet. The Gulmarg Golf Club is well
equipped to handle the holiday golfer and arrange for the
services of caddies and coaches; golf sets can also be hired
at very reasonable rates. Amenities at the club include a bar,
library, lounge, table tennis, lawn tennis and a putting
green. The Gulmarg course is usually open between April and
November, as it is covered by snow for the rest of the year
and its gentle slopes are transformed into mini ski runs for
Rafting in Ladakh
River rafting in Ladakh is
quite unlike anywhere else in the world. It provides the best
opportunity to enjoy and experience the natural beauty of the
spectacular landscape with deep gorges, towering snow-capped
peaks, hilltop monasteries, hillside villages, and glimpses of
the unique wildlife. Ladakh offers a range of rafting options
on the Indus and its major tributaries. The best stretch for
professionally guided runs in white water is on the Indus
between Spituk and Nimu or Saspol,
which rates 2 to 3 in the international river grading scale of
1 to 6. Upstream of Spituk, the Indus has the easiest
stretch up to Karu, which is ideal for basic
training or "scenic floating". In recent years, running
the Indus has become an attractive option to complement with
sightseeing, and features on the itinerary of most visitors.
Several travel agencies offer all-inclusive rafting packages.
Ask for details at the Tourist Office at Leh.
The most difficult but exciting rafting option is available on
the Zanskar River, along its spectacular course through
a gorge in the Zanskar Mountains, between Padum and
Nimu. This is suitable only for well-organized white-water
expeditions, prepared for about a week of rafting and camping
in absolute wilderness. Participants are required to be
trained rafters themselves while the arrangements should be
assigned to a dependable professional agency. Adequate
arrangement for rescue back-up is an essential prerequisite
for embarking upon this white-water expedition.
Climbing in Himalayan
The area most frequented by foreign climbers is th
Nun-Kun Massif in the Great Himalayan Range. Its easy
accessibility from the Kargil-Pudum road and the shortest
possible approach march to the base camps makes this massif
the most attractive climbing destination in the Great
Himalayas, necessitating advance booking years ahead. Among
its six known peaks accessible from the Suru Valley, Nun
(7,135m) and Kun (7,077m) are the highest summits.
The area nearest to Leh is Stok-khangri Massif in the Zanskar
mountains, south of Leh. The base camp for the various peaks
of this massif is about two days trek from the village of Stok.
Among its known peaks, Stok-khangri (6,150 m) is the highest;
it offers a spectacular perspective to the central expanse of
the Indus valley, which it dominates.
Other Mountaineering Options
Other peaks in the Ladakh area include Gulap Khangri (5,900
m), Matho West (5,950m) and Kantak (5,275 m). The much higher
Konglacha peak (6,700m) lies southwest of Leh and is reached
via Rubak on the first leg of the Markha Valley trek from Stok.
Many un-named peaks in the altitude range of 5,500 metres and
6,400 metres are also available for climbing in the same
region. This entire area falls well outside the Inner Line, or
of Leh, across the Ladakh Range and the Nubra Valley, lies the
Karokoram range. It soars to a number of known peaks which
are, however, within the restricted area and so not freely
accessible to foreign climbers except with special permission
from the Government of India. The most prominent summits in
this range which are accessible from various parts of the
Nubra Valley include, Saser-I (7,415 m), Saser -II (7,513m)
and Saser III (7,495 m).
Best Time To Climb
The climbing season extends from mid - May to mid -October,
the ideal period being from June to September because during
this time only Ladakh remains unaffected by the monsoon, which
holds sway over most of the Himalayas. Foreign climbing
expeditions are required to obtain permission from the Indian
Mountaineering Foundation for climbing all listed peaks. A
booking fee, based on the height and popularity of the
allotted peak, is charged and a Liasion Officer is assigned to
every climbing team. The minimum period required for
processing applications is six months. Every authorized
expedition is provided with adequate rescue coverage in the
events of accidents and illness.
One of the major attractions for adventure
loving tourists is skiing in the Himalayas. Gulmarg, the best
ski resort in the Himalayas, was first established by the
British in 1927, when two British Army Officers, Maj. Metcarp
and Maj. Hadow had setup the Ski Club of India at Gulmarg.
Skiing had become very popular during the pre-independence
years and Gulmarg used to host two main events, one each
during Christmas and Easter. In 1938-39 about 500 skiers are
reported to have participated in the Christmas and Easter ski
races. Gulmarg's atmosphere can generally be identified with
1940's and 50's European skiing—‘the Alps of good old days’.
It has good sunshine as well as good snow.
Skiing is considered to be one of the major extreme sports in
the sport, but water skiing is something that gives a water
sport lover the opportunity to make a splash at the watery
depths of the sea world. Similar to surfing in many ways, you
do get to balance on the ski board in here too, but a strong a
sensory power is also required over here too.
Water sports are the 'fun' aspect of Kashmir.
The Dal and Nagin lakes in Srinagar and
the Manasbal Lake, 32-km from Srinagar are the best
places for water-skiing!
expanse of the Dal, the Boddal, has privately owned 'bathing
boats' which hire out motor launches, water-skies and trained
instructors. There are more bathing boats at the Nagin Lake
and also a government run Institute of Water Sports. The Nagin
lake too has trained instructors and is more popular because
of its clean water.
A Natural Treasure Located In Isolation
Manasbal Lake, approachable from Srinagar by road, is secluded
from the rest of the world by the hills that surround it.
Serene, with a mirror like sheen on its surface makes Manasbal
an attractive water sports resort. Not only one can hire the
latest water-skiing equipment but also specially trained
instructors impart lessons to the initiated. Throughout the
summer season in Kashmir - from May to the end of August - the
water of the lakes is pleasant for water sports. The Tourist's
huts and bungalows are available on all the above resorts to
make it an overnight getaway