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If one were to look for a single event or person to pin Gulmarg’s enchantment on, it would perhaps be the stay of the Aurel Stein (November 1862 – October 1943) on these long grassy downs. Stein was an explorer and scholar of repute. He had traveled through much of Central Asia and his discoveries were able to add significantly to the corpus of knowledge of that relatively unknown area and to the study of Buddhism. In between his travels, Stein, who had seen some of the most spectacular landscapes in the world, would camp for months on end at Gulmarg. He was not alone in his admiration of the beauty of the place and many of the British posted in India would holiday here.

Today’s Gulmarg has gone several steps beyond being a temporary home for those few holiday makers and convalescents – and this is, arguably, the finest mountain resort in India. The landscape has an unparalleled beauty, it has one of the finest golf courses in India and its ski slopes are considered at par with the best in the world. The word 'Gulmarg' means 'Meadow of Flowers' and the undulating downs are covered with a variety of wildflowers in late spring and summer. Most of the architecture is unaggressive and blends well with the terrain - and attractive wooden houses predominate with languid curves and easy dips and rises along the inner and outer circular roads that encircle Gulmarg. A walk right round the outer one, at an easy pace, will take a couple of hours.

Gulmarg rests on an edge of the Pir Panjal mountains. Clearly visible is the western marker of the Himalaya mountains, the 8,126 meters (26,660 feet) high Nanga Parbat. Several other peaks also ring the area. The ski club dates back to 1927. A fresh dimension was added when a gondola car became operational – the second phase was completed in 2005. This is able to carry serious skiers almost to the top of the 4,100 meters (13,451.4 feet) Mount Apharwat from where long runs over varied faces, bowls and ridges have become available on good powder snow.

History
Gulmarg, like most of Kashmir owes its stunning beauty to immense tectonic upheavals that took place millions of years ago. As the rock rose and dipped, as valleys were carved and mountains formed, they provided the raw framework over which the gentler elements of nature were to play. When the forests, plants and flowers came, they softened the harshness and left the place with a chocolate-box pastoral perfection. One of the early admirers of this great beauty is supposed to have been the saint Baba Reshi who lived in the times of the king, Zin-ud-Abidin. The saint’s architecturally aesthetic ‘Ziarat’ is believed to have been built around 1480 CE and this is considered to be the oldest extant structure in the Gulmarg area.

The name Gulmarg is believed to be a modification of the original name which was ‘Gaurimarg’. The name may or may not have had a connection with Shiva and his consort, Gauri, but this was the name that the shepherds of old used. The name is supposed to have been changed at the instance of sultan, Yusuf Shah who was also enamored with the place. If it were historical endorsements that Gulmarg sought, then the visits of the Mughal emperor Jehangir established the measure of its worth. Then in the late nineteenth century, several British officials posted in India, and their families made Gulmarg their home for the summer months and quite a few would again be there around Christmas; with worn headstones, the old British cemetery still has some graves of that time. The presence of these holiday-makers was also responsible for the foundations of the two activities that Gulmarg today is best known for – golf and skiing. The golf club dates back to the early years of the twentieth century and the ski club, to the late nineteen-twenties.
Getting Around

Taxis and buses from Srinagar connect Gulmarg. The drive to Tangmarg, at the base of Gulmarg takes around an hour. From Tangmarg, the remaining twenty odd steep kilometers up can be covered by jeeps that are available on hire. If you have arranged this with your hotel, they will send a vehicle down. The last jeep out of Gulmarg leaves by sunset. Local movement may be done in buses, taxis or on ponies. Walking on Gulmarg’s well-marked trails is the best way of exploring the area. Tangmarg has a toll barrier where vehicles going up to Gulmarg have to pay a fee.

Khilanmarg

Khilanmarg - BindaasTravel.com

A path of some six kilometers and an ascent of some six hundred meters from Gulmarg will take you to the flower-strewn little highland dale of Khilanmarg. The narrow bridle path is lined by grassy knolls and a variety of trees and shrubs that include masses of daises, mulberry, berberis and walnut among others. Should you prefer riding to walking, ponies may be hired for this little hike. Nature’s index of the air quality is also there in the numerous lichens that may be found on the rocks and trees – these only grow at high altitudes with negligible carbon gases and which are rich (despite the height) in oxygen. In winter, this path serves as a ski run. In spring, with the thaw, this track is like a little mountain torrent of melting snow with squelchy patches of mud that seem to be preparing the soil for the burst of life and the fresh green that will soon follow. While the ascent is focused on the path ahead, once you are at the top – and on a clear day – an absolutely magnificent vista unfolds.

Gondola Lift - Gulmarg to Kongdori

Gondola Lift - Gulmarg to Kongdori - BindaasTravel.com

In 1987 work on the gondola car of Gulmarg began. After some delay, the first phase was completed in May 1998 and today, this is one of the main attractions of the place. The first of two sections of the cable car rises from the cable station at Gulmarg at an attitude of 2699.6 meters (8856.9 feet) to Kongdori at an altitude of 3099.6 meters (10169.2 feet) – a vertical rise of 400 meters (1312.3 feet) and length of over four kilometers. The system can transport up to 1500 persons per hour.

Gondola Lift - Kongdori to Apharwat

Gondola Lift - Kongdori to Apharwat - BindaasTravel.com

The second stage of the Gulmarg- Apharwat cable car project was completed in May, 2005 and the builders were the same as the first phase, the French firm, Pomagalski (popularly called Poma - the gondola car is sometimes referred to as 'the Poma') and their Indian associates. This stretch connects Kongdori station at 3,099 meters (10167.3 feet) with the heights of Apharwat at 3,979 meters (13054.4 feet) – Apharwat is the mountain that looms over Gulmarg and is the magnet for serious skiers. With the second stretch, this cable car system has become one of the longest and highest gondola projects in the world. The vertical rise between Kongdori and Apharwat is 880 meters (2887.1 feet) and this stretch is somewhat longer than the first one, and covers over five kilometers.

Surface

Gulmarg is well connected to Srinagar and the rest of the country by road. From Srinagar, the direction is south-west. The distance between Srinagar and Gulmarg is 56 kilometers (34.7 miles) and the drive, if uninterrupted, takes between one and a half and two hours. The timing by bus is slightly longer. The road distance to Jammu is 345 kilometers (214.3 miles), to Chandigarh is 630 kilometers (391.4 miles) and to Delhi is 880 kilometers ( 546.8 miles). From both Jammu and Delhi, taxis, deluxe, Volvo and regular buses are available for Srinagar or Gulmarg.

Train

A railway project that will link Srinagar and Baramulla (the headquarters of the district where Gulmarg is situated) to Jammu and the rest of the country is underway. Srinagar is connected to Baramulla by train on the Quazigund – Baramulla line. Otherwise Udhampur is the closest railhead to Gulmarg and is 284 kilometers (176.4 miles) away. While the distance is somewhat more, a better option is to take the train only up to Jammu (Tawi) as better road connections are available – both in terms of buses and taxis. The distance from Jammu to Gulmarg is 345 kilometers (214.3 miles).

Air

The closest airport to Gulmarg is the one at Srinagar at a distance of 55 kilometers (34 miles). Several domestic airlines operate to Srinagar from Jammu, Delhi and other places. Kingfisher, GoAir, Spicejet, Jet Airways, Jet Lite and Indian Airlines link the area to the rest of the country. Flights to Jeddah are available for Haj.

Heevan Retreat

Heevan Retreat  - BindaasTravel.com

ocated in idyllic surroundings in the “Meadow of Flowers” – Gulmarg, Heevan Retreat is a luxury hotel that offers you the best views of hill station Gulmarg. Five minutes drive from where the Gulmarg Gondola begins, enroute to Khilanmarg, Heevan Retreat, offers scintillating views of the Affarvat range of mountains.At an hours drive from Srinagar Airport , lies the mesmerizing meadow of flowers- Gulmarg. A popular tourist destination for decades, Gulmarg boasts of the worlds highest 18 hole Golf Course and is famous for winter sports.

Grand Mumtaz Resorts

Grand Mumtaz Resorts - BindaasTravel.com

Gulmarg,is a land of magnificent Palaces & tales of valor. The echo of Gulmarg's dramatic History Lingers in its rugged forts, glittering crystal chandeliers exquisitely curved temples & tansen's rousing melodies. Deluxe Grand Mumtaz Resorts is a regal retreat that stands in splendid solitude, amidst lush landscaping, shimmering fountains, arched bridges and artistic stone carvings. From regal living amidst exquisite decor royal dinning experience. Every moment spent hare is mingled with truly evocative of romance & royalty.

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