On my sixth day in Srinagar, I ventured north 60 km to the the Indian ski resort of Gulmarg.
Getting there is pretty easy. You have two options: 1) you can hire a jeep to take you up for about $25 CDN, or 2) you can take a bus and a shared jeep up for about $4 CDN. I was running short on time and thought I’d want to spend more time up top than I actually did, so I opted for the private jeep. This backfired, because when it’s been recently snowing they insist on only going up with chains on the tires so I had to take a shared jeep for the last 10 km in any event. Ordinarily a hired jeep should be able to go all the way to Gulmarg, but if you need to take a shared jeep up either because you took a bus or because of snow, you make the switch in the city of Tangmarg. Regardless, the last kilometres up the mountain are absolutely beautiful. Even though we ended up in a ditch and needed to push the jeep out.
Shots of Tangmarg:
One of the shared jeeps. It only costs about $1 CDN to make it up the 10 km, but they pack 6-7 people in the jeep:
Either way, when you get dropped off in the main parking lot in Gulmarg, you still have to walk about 1 km to the base of the gondola. As such, it is advisable to wear warm shoes when you go. If you’re desperate, people will rent you rubber boots, which really only keep your feet dry. Absurdly, you can also pay people to drag you the kilometre on a sled.
The building pictured below is where you purchase tickets. It costs about $15 CDN to make it up the first leg of the gondola ride and another $10 CDN to make it up the second leg. Ironically for a ski hill, the second leg of the gondola was closed off when I went due to excessive snowfall. The gondola is built by a French company and has the distinction of being the highest gondola in the world:
To be frank, I was expecting the ski scene in Gulmarg to be lame given that prior to my visit I’d never even heard of Gulmarg, let alone heard anyone speak highly of the skiing there. However, for skiers who love powder (not me, I find powder annoying as it slows you down), this place is a dream. They do NOT groom the trails, all they do is blast the area around the gondola for avalanche prevention. So skiing in Gulmarg is essentially the equivalent to back-country skiing, minus the danger of avalanches if you stay by the gondola. The odd thing was that when I got to the top of the first leg, I saw a few people renting skis (outdoors strangely enough) but no one actually skiing. Mostly the place was full of Indian tourists taking a few pictures up there. The couple I met in the houseboat told me that they had hired an instructor to take them down a chunk of the mountain essentially tandem skiing, but I didn’t see anyone doing that. It was actually really cold and because the snow was knee deep, my feet got cold and wet pretty fast so I only stayed up there for about 20 minutes.
Shot on the mountain:
A few more shots from the bottom of the mountain at Gulmarg:
I’ll leave you with two more shots of Tangmarg: