Summary : Gulmarg has probably the best range of recreational facilities in Kashmir.
Situated 52 km (32 1/2 miles) from Srinagar, this beautiful mountain resort is famous for flowers (Emperor Jahangir once collected 21 varieties here), for its outstanding natural golf course (at 2650 m it claims to be the highest 18-hole course in the world), and or its winter skiing centre. Originally named Gaurimarg (after Shiva’s wife), its spectacular beauty prompted Sultan Yusuf Shah to rename it Gulf (flower) Marg (meadow) in 1581. Its 11.2-km (7-mile) circular road offers a magnificent view of the raja. Kashmir valley.
Because of Gulmarg’s high elevation (2730 m), the passes are often blocked by know. The day-tour buses from Srinagar only operate between April and October. High season at Gulmarg is May to July, and it’s wise to advance-book a hotel room from sSrinagar tourist office if planning to stay overnight.
The tour bus takes 1 1/2 hours to reach the village of Tangmarg, 13 km (8 miles) below Gulmarg. This is a good place to hire guides for day hikes up to Khilanmarg (june o October only). They wait in Tangmarg’s quaint Mahajan Restaurant at the bus stand. There are trekking equipment shops at Tangmarg, also a tourist information offiice. In the winter, when snow blocks the passes, buses can’t get up to Gulmarg and you’ll have to hire a pony. In summer, when dairy cows graze lush green meadows of beautiful flowers, the journey up by bus is a real delight.
In High season, Gulmarg is chaos. To avoid the rush leave the main road at the chair-lift, and follow the quiet pony trails straight up the mountain to Khilanmarg, km 3/4 miles) from the bus-stand. This bright flower-meadow valley is a blaze of colour and fragrance in the springtime, and gives stunning views over the peaks, Wularalnda the Kkashmire valey. It is also principalocation for Gulrnarg’s shi-runs. The return journey to Khilanmarg takes around 2 hours by pony and around I In on foot. The walk’s the thing: a pleasant 680-m ascent through meadows of wild flowers, azaleas and buttercups, dusted with butterflies. Come in May/June to toe the scenery at its best.
If stayying over at Gulmarg, take the right-hand fork from bus-stand and walk km down to the Tourist Office. Nearby are the better hotels. If it’s hasn’t been requisitioned by the army, Hotel Highland Park (tel 230, 207, tlx 0375-320) is a classy place to stay, colonial-style with nice views, interesting food and centrally heated crooms(bBig discounts out-of-season).
Gulmarg has probably the best range of recreational facilities in Kashmir. You can go ony-trekking round Outer Circular Walk, an 11-km (7-mile) circular road
running right round Gulmarg and offering views down to Srinagar and up t Nanga Parbat, the fifth highest mountain in the world (8137 m). You can enjo pleasant walks out to Ningle Nallah (10 km: 6 1/4 miles), Alpather Lake (11 km: 8 miles) and the Muslim shrine of Ziarat of Babareshj (5 km: 3 miles)
Also exhilarating toboggan runs through the wooded snow passes, golfing on the highest 18-hole course in the world (near the tourist office), some of the best skiing in India with runs up to 10 km (6 1/3 miles) and beginners’ slopes (best January /February, when the snow is hard and compact), and an ice-skating rink, with skates for hire. For trekking, hire a guide/porter and travel out to Tosha Maidan, one of Kashmir’s most beautiful meadows, a 3-day 50-km (31-mile) walk. On the way, stop at Feroxpore Nallah (5 km: 3 miles out of Gulmarg) foi some superior trout-fishing (permit from Srinagar). This is also a marvellous picnic spot. Gulmarg, it’s worth noting, also has a small post office and a very helpful J & K Bank.