Want to get lost in the beauty of one of the prime destinations of Heaven on Earth - Kashmir? Here's a complete local guide and things to do in Gulmarg.
If you're captivated by the mesmerizing backdrops of lush meadows and vibrant flowers often featured in Bollywood movies, then a visit to Gulmarg is a must in your lifetime. This hill station, situated in Jammu and Kashmir, is not just a popular tourist destination but a true work of art. Regardless of the season, Gulmarg has something to offer throughout the year. So, if you're planning your trip, here are curated recommendations for things to do in Gulmarg, supporting local tourism and businesses, brought to you by traveler and skier Mir Fayaz.
How to reach Gulmarg
The nearest airport is Sheikh Ul-Alam International Airport in Srinagar. From there, you can hire a taxi or take a pre-paid taxi to reach Gulmarg, which is approximately 50 kilometers away.
Gulmarg is well-connected by road. Regular buses and taxis operate from Srinagar to Gulmarg, and the journey takes around 2 hours. You can also hire a private cab or drive yourself if you prefer.
The nearest railway station is Jammu Tawi, which is well-connected to major cities in India. From Jammu, you can either hire a cab or take a bus to reach Gulmarg which is approximately 290 kilometres away.
"Keeping in mind that road conditions can vary, especially during winter, it's advisable to check weather and travel conditions before planning your trip," says Mir
Where to stay in Gulmarg
One can stay in hotels, homestays private huts and hutments. For bookings and options, you can check out the Jammu & Kashmir Tourism Development Corporation (JKDTC) Website.
Places to visit in Gulmarg
There’s a long list of places to visit in Gulmarg and here are a few of them.
1. Gulmarg Gondola: One of the highest cable cars in the world, providing breathtaking views of the snow-capped Himalayas. It has two phases, with the second phase reaching the Apharwat Peak.
2. Apharwat Peak: A stunning mountain peak offering panoramic views of the surrounding valleys and peaks. It's accessible via the Gulmarg Gondola.
3. Shrine of Baba Reshi: The architecture and serene surroundings of a revered shrine dedicated to Baba Reshi, a Muslim saint is a peaceful place to visit.
4. St. Mary's Church: A historic church built in the British colonial era, showcasing beautiful architecture and stained glass windows.
5. Alpather Lake: A scenic high-altitude lake surrounded by snow-covered mountains, accessible by a trek from Gulmarg.
6. Khilanmarg: A picturesque meadow offering breathtaking views of the Himalayas and a starting point for various treks.
7. Gulmarg Biosphere Reserve: A protected area known for its diverse flora and fauna, providing opportunities for nature walks and wildlife spotting. Some of the animals and birds you can spot there are musk deer, common leopard, barking deer, Asiatic black bear, Himalayan black bear, Indian wolf, chakoo, griffon, vulture, monal, snow cock, koklass pheasant, blue rock pigeon, Kashmir roller.
8. Outer Circle Walk: A scenic walking trail around Gulmarg offering beautiful views of the landscapes.
A piece of hidden gem in Gulmarg worth exploring
As Mir is a rider and runs a local travel company he suggests a hidden gem - Tangmarg that is worth exploring. Here are some aspects that make Tangmarg a hidden gem:
1. Ningle Nallah: A small stream surrounded by lush greenery, offering a peaceful setting for nature walks and picnics.
2. Ferozepur Nallah: Another charming stream known for its clear waters and scenic surroundings.
3. Ferozepur Village: A nearby village with traditional Kashmiri houses, providing a glimpse into local life and culture.
4. Tangmarg Market: A small market where you can experience the local lifestyle, buy traditional handicrafts, and interact with friendly locals.
What to eat in Gulmarg
To savour the delicacies of Gulmarg and the local Kashmiri cuisine, which is rich in flavours and influenced by the region's culture, here are some dishes that you can try:
1. Rogan Josh: A flavorful and aromatic lamb curry made with a blend of spices, often including saffron.
2. Gushtaba: A traditional Kashmiri dish consisting of seasoned minced meatballs cooked in rich yogurt-based gravy.
3. Yakhni: A mild and aromatic curry usually made with yoghurt, various spices, and either chicken or mutton.
4. Dum Aloo: Potatoes cooked in a rich and spicy gravy, typically flavoured with Kashmiri red chilli powder.
5. Wazwan: A grand feast of multiple dishes that is a significant part of Kashmiri culture. It includes various kebabs, curries, and rice preparations.
6. Kahwa: A traditional Kashmiri green tea-infused beverage.
Activities to do in Gulmarg
1. Skiing and Snowboarding: In winter, Gulmarg transforms into a skiing paradise. The slopes cater to both beginners and advanced skiers, offering a thrilling experience.
2. Snowshoeing: Explore the snow-covered landscapes by strapping on snowshoes. It's a great way to enjoy the winter scenery.
3. Golfing: The Gulmarg Golf Course, one of the highest in the world, provides a unique golfing experience amidst picturesque surroundings.
4. Golf Course Road Walk: Take a stroll along the Golf Course Road, surrounded by stunning views and beautiful landscapes.
5. Trekking: Gulmarg offers various trekking trails, such as the trek to Apharwat Peak or Alpather Lake, providing opportunities to explore the region's natural beauty.
6. Horse Riding: Enjoy horse riding through the meadows and scenic landscapes surrounding Gulmarg.
7. Snowmobile Rides: Experience the thrill of snowmobiling on the snow-covered trails around Gulmarg. It's an exhilarating way to explore the snowy surroundings.
8. Ice Skating: Enjoy ice skating on the frozen surfaces in Gulmarg. It's a fun and active way to experience the winter season.
Local attractions in Gulmarg
Support the local community of Gulmarg by engaging in these activities with them:
1. Shopping for Handicrafts: Explore local markets and shops to purchase traditional Kashmiri handicrafts like Pashmina shawls, carpets, and handmade paper products.
2. Gulmarg Winter Festival: If your visit coincides with the Gulmarg Winter Festival, enjoy cultural events, winter sports competitions, and a vibrant atmosphere. This year it is going to happen on 15th February.
4. Kahwa Tasting: Try the traditional Kashmiri tea known as Kahwa. It's a fragrant green tea infused with spices like cardamom, cinnamon, and saffron. You can savour this warm beverage at local tea stalls or hotels.
5. Photography of Local Life: Photography can be a wonderful way to document the rich cultural aspects of Gulmarg. Capture the vibrant local life, including traditional Kashmiri houses, local markets, and people engaged in daily activities.
6. Attend Local Events: Check if any local festivals or cultural events are happening during your visit. Participating in traditional celebrations can provide a deeper understanding of the local culture.
7. Interact with Locals: Engage in conversations with locals to learn about their traditions, customs, and daily life. This personal interaction adds a genuine touch to your cultural experience.