Winter undoubtedly my favorite time of the year. Each year I look forward to the white fluffy clouds to cover up the mountains. There is only one place in India where you can expect snow year after year, and it is Gulmarg! Many people are skeptical about traveling into the heart of Kashmir due to the volatile history of the region. However, in my experience, I have found it to be amicable and convenient to move around.
If you are traveling from Mumbai, you should get acclimatize in Srinagar for a day or so before heading to the mountainside Gulmarg. You should experience a night in Dal lake during the winters. If the temperature drops to sub-zero, you can also get the glimpse for the frozen lake in the morning. The rooms on the houseboat cost 900 – 1500 INR depending on where you are staying. There are quite a few places to Chill and meet new people; one of the restaurants is Winterfell cafe. It is located opposite gate no 5 of Dal lake; The restaurant is Themed After the HBO series Game Of Thrones. Shopping on Dal Lake for Handicrafts, Shawl, Jewellery is an awesome experience.
From Srinagar, you can get a Share cab to Batamaloo to Tangmarg which is around 39 km for 80 INR, and from Tangmarg to Gulmarg, you can get another shared taxi for 50 INR per seat. And the distance is hardly 14 km. Taxi is easily available from Srinagar Airport, Taxi stand at Dal Lake till Tangmarg. From Tangmarg you need to hire another taxi till Gulmarg as the road ahead is slippery and requires snow chains on tires on bad weather days to navigate.
And finally, you are in Gulmarg Skiing paradise. If you are a skier or a snowboarder, you must spend some time in Gulmarg. There are a lot of accommodations available in winter from budget to 5-star hotels. Friends and I usually stay in Roseland Cottage, which is close to Highland Park. Rent is approx 1500 INR per room and can accommodate four people per room. The food in the cottage is also pretty decently priced. We chose this place because we usually spent about a month on Gulmarg only the downside is it a bit far away from the market and Gandola.
There are many Skiing slopes in Gulmarg; Baby slopes for the beginners. Highland slopes with T bar for enthusiasts and finally the Mountain Apharwat peak. The peak is around 13999 feet above sea level. The Mountain divided into three parts, Phase One, Chair lift, and Phase Two.
Phase one consists of a Beated slope which takes around 15 – 20 mins to complete the run; the altitude of Phase one is 8530 ft above sea level. The day pass cost 750 INR for domestic tourist and 1250 INR for foreign tourist. There are many Food stalls on Phase 1 since a lot of tourist visit to have the view of the Himalayan mountain range. On a clear day, one can get the panoramic view of Nanga Parbat and Harmukh mountains.
The chair lift is for professional Skiers; it starts from phase one to mid-Mountain this patch is mostly used for winter sports to carry out slalom Skiing race the day pass cost 1250 INR for domestic tourist and 1900 INR for foreign tourist. Gulmarg Phase 2 situated at the altitude of 12893 feet above sea level. One can enjoy world best powder skiing over here. There are many routes to come down the Mountain, and there are also many alpine Routes for Skiing. The day pass is similar to the Chair lift pass.
After a long tiring day of Skiing, there are only a couple of places where one can chill and have a beer. My favorite place in Gulmarg is Highland Park to relax after Skiing. They serve Beer and have beautiful décor with wood burn heater in the hangout space. The view from this place is just amazing! There is also a great coffee joint close in the market area known as The Black Bear Brew. The serve fantastic coffee and hot chocolate! It would be best if you tried it. There are lots of places to eat since it is a touristy place. And yes that's it about Gulmarg!
Things to do in Gulmarg