A huge cup shaped meadow, lush and green with slopes where
the silence is broken only by the tinkle of cowbells,
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
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.
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
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 late
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 spo 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 the stream.
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
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