Gulmarg , heartland of winter sports of India , also known as “meadow of flowers” and topmost attraction of Kashmir, is indeed a heavenly place on earth.
As the famous dialogue goes, “If heaven falls on earth, it falls here in gulmarg (kashmir) “. Undoubtedly, the most visited hill station of India, is nestled in a cup shaped valley in midst of snow capped Pir Panjal mountain range of western Himalayas at an elevation of 2650m. Originally, Gulmarg was known as Gauri marg as in the path leading to Goddess Parvati. It is known to be covered with white powder in winter and wild flowers such as diasies,forget-me-nots,buttercups in spring and summer.
History Of Gulmarg
In 16th century, Yusuf Shah of Chak dynasty frequently visited Gaurimarg with his beautiful queen Habba Khatoon. He fell in love with this place and changed its name from Gaurimarg to Gulmarg as he witnessed the snow covered land transform into a valley of flowers in the spring season. It is also said that the beautiful gardens during the reign of Jehangir owe their beauty to the 21 varieties of wild flowers collected from gulmarg. In the 19th century, Gulmarg became a famous spot for Britishers to spend their summers to escape the scorching heat. Their efforts led to establishment of 3 golf courses, out of which one still can be witnesed at an altitude of 2650m as well as Ski club helding 2 annual ski events.
How to reach –
Nearest airport – Srinagar airport Nearest railway station – Udhampur railway station By road – 50 km from srinagar By car / bus / private vehicle from srinagar to tangmarg. From tangmarg, hire taxis, mini coaches, private vehicles till gulmarg.
Topmost Spots of attraction not to be skipped at all (season wise)
Maharani Temple (Shiv temple) – Built by Maharaja Hari Singh for his wife Maharani Mohini Bai Sisodia who ruled till 1915. Also known as Mohini Shivalaya. The most fascinating feature of this temple is that it is visible from all corners of gulmarg at any point of time. It is the royal temple of dogra dynasty dedicated to Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. In winter the bright red coloured rooftop is covered with snow, giving it a pristine look and adds to the beauty of the snow valley. The famous bollywood song of superstar Rajesh Khanna and actress Mumtaz “Jay Jay shiv Shankar” in the film “Aap Ki Kasam” has been shot near this temple.
St,Mary’s Church – It is an ancient church built in victorian style of architecture with a steep distinct green roof and grey stone walls. Picture perfect destination for all the photography lovers. It was built almost hundred years back but still well maintained giving us a glimpse of the olden days..
Baba Reshi Shrine – Baba Reshi shrine,almost 500 year old place near gulmarg, holding religious importance, is an amazing example of the old Kashmiri architecture with intricate latticework on windows, carved deodar pillars, and excellent craftsmanship. The shrine is dedicated to Baba Reshi, a Muslim scholar & saint who spent his days meditating and praying in the valley. It has a huge hall accommodating 1000 visitors at a time.
Ningle Nallah – Located at 10 kms from gulmarg, is a beautiful stream, set in the backdrop of lushgreen meadows, grazy pastures and snow capped mountains. Easily accessible from all roads but worth visiting in summer as not seen in winter.
Alpather lake – Located at an high altitude of 4600 feet , it is a small blue lake amidst the white snow at the foot of the twin apharwat Hillpeaks. It can be reached using the second phase of gondola ride. This is so surreal and unbelievably beautiful.that it can give you goosebumps. In winter high speed winds blow all over Gulmarg and the lake is frozen throughout the winter season. Therefore also known as frozen lake.
Khilanmarg – Valley famous for its breath taking views of snow clad mountains , is a hub for ski lovers as it has a 600 m slope extended till gulmarg. A perfect place for experienced skiiers.One can find the most famous restaurants of Srinagar in the nearby vicinity. In evergreen summer one can enjoy horse riding, trekking, etc.
Gulmarg bio reserve – Spread around an area of almost 200 kms, it hosts a wide variety of species of flora and fauna. The major attractions of this reserve are Himalayan musk deer, red fox, brown and black bears, migratory birds, etc. Advised to visit in spring and summer for better wildlife sightings.
Important tips as u travel to gulmarg
- First and foremost while planning a trip to gulmarg, plan in summer and spring if u are more interested in watching flower valley and less of snow and u feel sceptical about the freezing temperatures. But to enjoy the snow and winter sports, plan a trip in winter (November to February).
- If u wanna experience snowfall, best time is December to mid January.
- The weather forecast for Gulmarg plays a pivotal role in deciding the day of visit. Especially in winter, one can check whether there is possibility of rains or sun along with snow , as rains make it miserably cold while sun and snow assure you of the best of your trip.
- Carry Thermals and at least two pairs of woolen wear (full sleeves) in winter for every single day while one set is enough in spring and summer season. Clothes do not dry easily in winters.
- Prefer renting extra long waterproof jackets and gumboots instead of carrying… It’s relatively cheaper and advisable.
- Waterproof gloves in addition to woolen gloves are a must if you plan to take snow in your hands and aspire making a snowman.
- If you wanna sit and play in the snow, but obvious if spending a whole day, beware your pants may get wet. At these times the rented long waterproof jackets come handy.
- Goggles one of the essential gears to protect your eyes from the glistening snow. Also available at the rental shops incase u forget to carry.
- Wrap your mobiles and cameras in plastic cover as moisture tends to interfere with them.
- Photography tip – Remove and keep your camera battery in your inner pocket of your jacket to keep it warm and insert it when u reach the spot.
- One sack bag with your essential can be carried while roaming around. Avoid too much baggage.
- Opt for face mask for kids and elderly as the chilled wind can make them uneasy sometimes.
- A good guide will help u in all the circumstances and save lot of unnecessary money at various places. This would also help in boosting Kashmir tourism. Moreover you are then not troubled further by any of the localites. Contact no of our guide – Mr.Ahmed 9596404735
- One day is sufficient if not interested in trekking. But adventure lovers can opt for staying in gulmarg, ample of hotels available.
- There is no petrol pump in Gulmarg, though ATM is available. Better to carry cash from Srinagar itself.
- Prior ticket Booking for gondola ride is necessary in spring and summers to avoid long queues. In winter you can easily get tickets at the booking counter.
- Valid ID cards are a must while booking tickets for the gondola ride.
- Plan ur gondola ride first and then the other spots as there is a time limit for the ride.
- Food stalls are available at phase 1 but not in phase 2 of gondola ride.
- Buy and keep water bottles with you as you may not get it elsewhere. Food stalls provide you with hot drinking water if asked for with no extra charges.
- Five to six people can be easily accommodated in one cabin.
- If possible choose a cabin with clear glass and no scratches for good photography.
- Washrooms are available at phase 1 at minimal charges. Phase 2 has no facilities.
- Weather is unpredictable and not at all constant in gulmarg. Need to keep a check.
- Last but not the least, you need to come back to tangmarg early in the evening as there are no streetlights on the windy road.
Check out my latest blog about my recent travel experience to gulmarg in 2020 and how the tips helped me to have a safe and satisfying journey: https://wordpress.com/block-editor/post/indiansujata.travel.blog/40