Gulmarg Gondola in Gulmarg, in the Indian State of Jammu and Kashmir is the world s second highest operating cable car since the closure in 2008 of the Mérida cable car in Venezuela. It is also the longest cable car project in Asia. The 2-way ropeway has the capacity to ferry about 600 people per hour between Gulmarg and Kongdoor Mountain. This ropeway project is a joint venture of the Jammu and Kashmir government and the French firm Pomagalski. The second phase took 2 whole years to build and cost about USD 2.3 million. The project was launched with the intention of promoting skiing on Gulmarg slopes and for boosting Winter Tourism in Gulmarg.
Gulmarg is situated at 2650metres on a flat plateau at the base of Mt. Apharwat. The best and longest ski run of 3 kilometres in Gulmarg is accessed by the Gondola Cable Car Lift, which allows a ski run of 2,213 metres descent. The gondola ascends extends almost to the peak of Apharwat, at an elevation of 3980 metres above sea level. It provides lift served access to 1330 vertical metres of vast snow slopes. With the setting-up of Gondola Cable Car Lift from Gulmarg to Apharwat top, Gulmarg has become one of the highest lift-served ski resorts in the world. The total aerial distance covered by Gulmarg Gondola is 5 kilometres.
The Phase 2 of the Gondola Ride is a prime attraction as it gives panoramic views of the Himalayas as it keeps ascending higher and closer to the Apharwat Mountain.
The cable car ascends 1,330 vertical metres to a height of nearly 4,000m.
The Gondola Lift operates in 2 phases – Gulmarg > Kongdoor and Kongdoor > Apharwat. Phase 1 of the Gulmarg Gondola Project starts in Gulmarg at 2’990 m has a vertical rise of 400 metres travelling at 5 metres per second, ferries 1500 people per hour from Gulmarg to a height of 3100 metres above sea level to middle station Kongdoor Mountain, from which skiers have access to numerous easy runs through the trees and to the groomed but narrow slopes.
Phase 2 of the Gulmarg Gondola Project starts at Kongdoor and ascends a slope of 2688 metres ata vertical rise of 880 metres from Kongdoor travelling at 5 metres per second, ferries 600 people per hour to a height of 3980 metres onto Apharwat Mount. From this point skiers can either return to the middle station by staying on the controlled and patrolled gondola bowl or traverse further up. Nearly every route links up with powder runs with up to 1’000 vertical meters.
The tariff of the ticket in first phase, from Gulmarg to the Kongdoori mid-station, 300 metres above costs Rs.100 one way or Rs.500 for the day. The tariff of Phase 2, ascending to nearly 4,000 metres at the height of Mt Apharwat, costs Rs.250 one way. A day pass is Rs1, 000.
Gulmarg offers many opportunities for runs over open snow fields, along numerous ridges with over 20 access points to runs. These runs have more than 1’000 vertical meters and a terrain steepness of 32° to more than 40°.
The gondola terrain is divided into two sections -the upper and the lower section. The first section is 2,350 m long and rises 450m vertically from Gulmarg ski resort to slopes at 3300m up the side of Apharwat Mountain.
The second section runs to over 4,000m, just below the peak of Apharwat. From the top most station, a 30-minute trek up would land on the peak. Any direction from this peak is ok for skiing for a couple of kilometres. Also, from this peak, the Line of Control (LOC) and Pakistan administered Kashmir are both visible.