Gulmarg, Jammu and Kashmir: Gulmarg’ – ‘Path of Roses’ in Hindi is a Hill Station and a Notified Area Committee Town of Baramulla District in India’s northernmost State – Jammu and Kashmir. Located at 34°03′N74°23′E34.05°N 74.38°E coordinates, it is a mountain-plateau perched at an elevation of about 9000 feeton the slopes of Mount Apharwat – world’s 9th highest mountain.Gulmarg lies at the western end of the Himalayas in a subsidiary range called the Pir Panjal and close to Nanga Parbat (Mountain).
Gulmarg is about 55 kilometres southwest of the State Capital – Srinagar. Gulmarg is an all-weather resort and attracts tourists for trekking, mountain biking, horse riding, water skiing, fishing, skiing, Heli-skiing, snowboarding, sledding and snow-shoeing.
An International Tourism destination for Winter Adventure Sports - Gulmarg is one of the best powder snow resorts of the world owing to regular and considerable snowfalls all winter long.
Gulmarg was originally called ‘Gaurimarg’ by the native shepherds. In the 16th Century, Sultan Yusuf Shahchanged its name to ‘Gulmarg’ when he saw scores of brightly coloured wildflowers carpeting the hills and meadows kilometres together. Mughal Emperor Jahangir is known to have picked 21 different varieties of wild flowers from Gulmarg.
Gulmarg has been a filmmaker’s favourite locale when the theme is romance. Gulmarg epitomizes natural beauty and fills the ambience with marvelous multi-coloured landscapes what with millions of wild flowers covering kilometres of meadows and hill slopes of Gulmarg. It is a massive saucer-shaped slope,dense and bright greenmeadow of about 5 square kilometres in area in the Gulmarg Valley of the Kashmir region. In springtime this whole area gets blanketed with scores of bright Daisies, Poppies, Buttercups, Bluebells and Forget me not’s. All this is with a backdrop of the silvery snow-capped mountain range. The course that leads to Gulmarg is just as fascinating as it meanders its way through flat areas of rice fields and then ascends the hills through conifer-covered hill-slopes. This is one of the few places to skip shortcuts.
The peaks surrounding Gulmarg range in heights of 8,700 and 10,500 ft, which make it the only ‘Heli Skiing’Station in Asia and the highest Skiing location in India. Being a world famous tourist spot for Snow Sports, the sports gear such as skis, boots, sticks, gloves and goggles are available for rent at the Ski shop which is owned and run by the government where you would also find skiing instructors. You would be surprised to know that the world’s second highestCable Car operates in Gulmarg! Gulmarg also cradles one of world’s Highest Golf Courses.
While skiing or even exploring on snow slopes - especially as high as the ones in Gulmarg, make the Avalanche Transreceiver, also called the Avalanche Beacon your best friend on a powder slope as snow-slopes are known for avalanches and the only thing that can track you incase you get caught under a huge mound of snow and your screams are not audible outside - this beacon signals its counterpart, with which people can track and rescue you.
Gulmarg offers some breath-takingviews on the trekking trails. The trek routes commence at Gulmarg and follow a well-graded Pony track over the Apharwat Ridgeand across to the Khilanmarg.
At the base of the Apharwat Ridge lies the picturesque Alpine Lake –Alpather about 13 kms from Gulmarg.The Alpather Lake is frozen for more than half a year until mid-June where you see lumps of ice afloat. Horse-Riding enthusiasts make it a day’s excursion to the Alpather Lake by traversing the 26 kms onward and back on horseback.
At the base of the slopes of Gulmarg is the Shrine of Baba Reshi or Ziarat of Baba Reshi who is a famous Muslim Saint who breathed his last in Gulmarg. Baba Reshi was once a courtier of the Kashmir King Zain-ul-Abidin. Thousands of pilgrims visit this Shrine each year.
Joshmaidan is another beautiful meadow near Gulmarg to visit and takes 5 days for a return trekking trip.