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Situated in Jammu & Kashmir’s Baramulla district, Gulmarg was a British discovery in 1927. The name Gulmarg literally means “meadow of flowers.” It was formerly known as Gaurimarg after the Indian Goddess Gauri. It was Sultan Yousuf Shah, the last indigenous king of Kashmir, who coined its current name after being mesmerized by the beautiful slopes.
With the wonderful sight of the grassy slopes and wildflowers in spring and ice-capped peaks in winter, Gulmarg is one of the most charming hill stations. Gulmarg with hills and lakes that trekkers love to explore and beautiful slopes for skiing is on the top of most travel bucket lists.
Location: Jammu & Kashmir
Nearest Airport: Sri Nagar
How to reach: by air / train / road
Famous for: Himalayas, Skiing, Trekking, Highest Golf Course in the world
Best time to visit: Mar to Oct
WHAT TO SEE
Himalayan Ski School,
Gulmarg Backcountry Skiing
Places of Interest:
Khilanmarg -Khilanmarg is a popular attraction aside from the Gulmarg gondola owing to the mesmerizing Himalayan backdrop. Situated 4 km away from the Gulmarg bus stop, one can easily walk across the valley’s meadows to this place. The valley is a sight to behold in spring with wildflowers scattering across it. At Khilanmarg, one can drink at the panoramic views of the twin peaks Nun and Kun, the Himalayas, and Nanga Parbat. With mountains on all sides, the valley serves as a base for several nearby tourist attractions.
St. Mary’s Church -St. Mary’s Church was built in the year 1902, during the British reign in India. The church with its British architecture draws several tourists every year. Being one of the few Christian churches in the state, St. Mary’s Church is considered to be a heritage of British reign in India. The 110-year-old church has several huts and hotels of old architecture where tourists can stay. The surrounding alpine trees make the church area picturesque.
Maharani Temple -Situated on a knoll in the middle of the Gulmarg Hill station, the Maharani Temple is a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati, his wife. The wife of former Kashmir ruler Maharaj Hari Singh, Mohini Bai Sisodia, had this temple constructed. The unique construction of the Maharani Temple allows one to see it from all corners of Gulmarg. Maharani Temple attracts devotees of Parvati and Shiva throughout the year.
Golf Course -Established during the British era in India in the year 1904, Gulmarg’s Golf Course is a must-visit attraction after the Gulmarg gondola. With lush-green grounds, it is considered to be one of the most beautiful and highest golf courses in the world. Golf enthusiasts can avail of temporary one-day memberships at the 18-hole course to play to their heart’s content.
Shrine of Baba Reshi -The Shrine of Baba Reshi is named after and dedicated to the renowned Muslim scholar and saint Baba Reshi and is located just 5 km away from Gulmarg. With its massive garden, the shrine can accommodate a large number of devotees at a time. The shrine’s beautiful wooden work in the Mughal and Persian style of architecture attracts several visitors.
Seven Springs -A Gulmarg gondola ride from the base of Apharwat Mountain will take you to the majestic stream of Seven Springs, located on the hillock near Kongdori. The sight of seven different natural water outlets at this place is one to behold. A walk around the springs will let one enjoy the beauty of snow-capped mountains. Tourists can also catch the glimpse of the Gulmarg and Srinagar valleys.
Alpather Lake -Alpather Lake is situated at the foot of Apharwat Mountain. Until mid-June, the lake remains frozen. During summers, however, Alpather is clear with pieces of ice floating on it. The triangular-shaped lake draws in visitors for the picturesque snow-capped mountain backdrop. Located 13 km away from Gulmarg, one can reach the lake from the hill station after a day-long expedition.
Pulwama -One can visit the nearby district Pulwama through a day-long excursion. Known as the “Rice Bowl of Kashmir,” the district is agriculturally rich with its rice, apple, and saffron cultivation. However, Pulwama is a true scenic beauty hidden away in the secretive mountains. With mesmerizing falls, streams, and valleys, the district is a photographer’s dream. With places like Tarsar and Marsar lakes, Pulwama is a must-visit after your Gulmarg gondola experience.
Gulmarg Gondola Ride -The renowned Gulmarg gondola ride is one of the most preferred ways of sightseeing in the hill station. It serves as one of the chief attractions in Gulmarg due to the stunning vistas it offers. The aerial view of the Gondola village and Himalayan peaks are a breathtaking sight. Tourists can choose between two 5 km rides– Gulmarg to Kungdoor and Kungdoor to Apharwat.
Skiing -Gulmarg is the best skiing destination in India. With its Alpine slopes, it draws a large number of skiers every year. The slopes of the hill station offer amazing runs for over 2 km as the altitude drops about 700 m. Any level of skier is welcome to ski in Gulmarg. Beginners will receive the necessary training on smaller slopes.
Trekking -Gulmarg is the perfect place to trek for those seeking an adventure. The Nanga Parbat is one of the most popular trails in the hill station. The twin peaks of Kun and Nun of the Khilanmarg Valley are yet another popular trekking spot. The Ningli Nallah, a big mountain stream, is a great place to trek as well as camp. However, trekking along Alpather Lake with its otherworldly sights takes the cake in the best trekking trail in Gulmarg.
Outer Circle Walk -The Outer Circle Walk is one of the most recommended tourist activities when visiting Gulmarg. It consists of an 11 km trek around the Kashmir Valley. Tourists will be taken to the outer circle surrounding the valley crossing the pine trees and beautiful landscapes. During this walk, one can view the Nanga Parbat, the fourth-highest peak in the world. One can also enjoy the beauty of Sunset and Haramukh peaks.
Cuisine in Gulmarg is predominantly non-vegetarian, most of which is spicy. However, there are a few vegetarian dishes, as well, for the ones with such preferences. Tourists have a wide variety of choices across Gulmarg’s multi-cuisine restaurants.
The downhill areas of Gulmarg have a few handicraft shops, where you can buy carpets, several hand-made metal items, and mats. However, for quality baskets, shawls, other such delicate products, and more, one will need to drive down to Srinagar.
How to Reach:
By Air -Tourists can fly down to the nearest airport in Srinagar. From the airport, it is easy to hail a taxi to Gulmarg. Alternatively, one can get a jeep to get to Gulmarg, as well. Srinagar Airport is well-connected to major Indian cities. There are frequent flights to and from cities like Mumbai, Pune, etc.
By Road -Gulmarg is a well-connected hill station. Tourists can drive down from other Jammu and Kashmir cities. There is also the choice of buses. Residents of northern states can drive up to Srinagar in their vehicles. From Srinagar, they will need to choose another option.
By Train -Railways are yet another option for tourists to reach Gulmarg. The nearest railhead is the Jammu Tawi railway station. From here, one would need to drive to Gulmarg. Northern states residents can get direct trains to Jammu station. The station is well-connected to all major cities in India.
Where to Stay:
Gulmarg has several accommodation options. A tourist can get the quintessential houseboat experience at the hill station. However, during peak winters, the most visited time, a spa resort is a warmer option. There a quite a few hotels that provide the best amenities and service. The Khyber Himalayan Resort & Spa is one such hotel and is 65 km from the Srinagar airport.
The Khyber Himalayan Resort & Spa -The Khyber Himalayan Resort & Spa, with its Kashmiri Heritage architecture, is one of the best Gulmarg hotels. The resort is close to all major attractions and offers a relaxing and luxurious retreat.