Gulmarg's legendary beauty, prime location and proximity to Srinagar naturally make it one of the premier hill resorts in the country.
Originally called "Gaurimarg", the name of Lord Shiva's consort. In 16th century Yousuf Shah Chak changed its name to Gulmarg, meaning the place of roses. Sultan Yusuf Shah Chak, who was inspired by the sight of its grassy slopes emblazoned with wild flowers. Gulmarg was favourite 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.
The 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 chillies festoon windows of village homes. After Tangmarg, the climb to Gulmarg begins through fir-covered hillsides. At one point, known simply as View Point, travellers generally stop their vehicles for a few minutes and look out a spectacle of snow-covered mountains, almost within touching distance.
The Winter Games Federation of India, during its annual general meeting declared Gulmarg as the winter sports capital of India. Coming from the apex body that organises winter sports in the country, this is indeed a great honour for Gulmarg.
Sledging: A flat wooden board is taken up the hilltop and, without a navigator, allowed to slide downhill on the snow-covered slopes. Sledges as well as sledge-pullers are always available on hire.
Skiing: Some of the best slopes in the country for beginners and intermediate skiers are available at Gulmarg. Skiing equipment is available on hire from the Ski-Shop. In winter Gulmarg's natural slopes and inclines turn into the country’s premier skiing resort. Not all tourists who visit in winter come for skiing - some simply are there to watch the skiing or to enjoy a holiday in the snow. Many of these are infected with the excitement of the skiers, and have donned their first pair of skis within a short while of their arrival. Click here to know more about Skiing in Kashmir.
Among the multitudes of slopes, there are a few which are serviced by ski lifts. Most of the skiing becomes centred on these slopes, which are specially suited to beginners and intermediate level skiers, with ski runs ranging from 200 m to 3kms, instructors are available for both levels.
Each of these is quieter than the immensely popular ones with skilifts. Advanced skiers often trek in the snow for several hours to the very top of Apharwat peak, to make a descent lasting no more than 30 minutes.
And now, with the operation of the Gulmarg Gondola Cable Car, it has become all the more convenient for skiing enthusiasts, as they can gain a ski run of nearly 3 kms with the help of this cable car which goes up to Kongdori.
There are a host of snow sports at Gulmarg at this time of the year. Tobogganing, the most popular among them requires no skill. No skill is required - a flat wooden board is taken up the hill and is allowed to descend downhill. There are also snow scooters and snow bobbing, neither requiring special skills.