Gulmarg (translation: "Meadow of Flowers") is a town, a hill station, a popular skiing destination and a notified area committee in Baramula district in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir.
Gulmarg is located 52 km from Srinagar. It is located at . It has an average elevation of .
At the 2001 India census, Gulmarg had a population of 664, though many people are required to leave by nightfall. Only tourists and those working in the tourism industry may stay overnight. Males constitute 99% of the population and females 1%. Gulmarg has an average literacy rate of 96%, higher than the Indian national average of 59.5%: male literacy is 97%, and female literacy is 22%. In Gulmarg, 0% of the population is under 6 years of age.
Gulmarg has been a resort for the kings like Yousuf Shah Chak and Jahangir who used to visit frequently. The old name of Gulmarg was "Gaurimarg", the name of Lord Shiva's wife. Yousuf Shah Chak changed its name to Gulmarg, meaning the place of roses. During the early part of the 20th century the famous Central Asian explorer Sir Marc Aurel Stein (1862 1943), made his home here in a tent between his expeditions. It was a favourite summer holiday destination for the British stationed in India.
Walkways in Gulmarg
The surrounding areas were politically restive during a period of relative peace and quiet. The town is nestled within the imposing Himalayan peaks, and lies within miles of the Line of Control. It receives heavy snowfall during the winter season and is a popular ski resort.
With the abatement of militancy in the area, Gulmarg has quickly become one of the state's most visited destinations. The slopes of the Afarwat Hills of the Pir Panjal Range of the Himalaya Chain boast one of the longest and highest ski slopes in Asia. The total distance covered by ski lifts is five kilometres and the resort peaks at an altitude of , accessed by an aerial gondola (telecabine). The skiing project was inaugurated by the Chief Minister on 25 December 2004. The entire hill is guarded by the army at all times. The army, which is seen everywhere in the cities of Kashmir, is not in the town or the actual hilltop. Frisking is only done midway on the access road at 3 places: Tangmarg, near an army camp on the road from Tangmarg, and 5 km before entering Gulmarg. Gulmarg does not have any permanent residents. All living in Gulmarg are hotel employees and guests.
View from the Gulmarg slopes, cable car is used as ski lift
Official Tourist Rate List
Gulmarg Gondola, the second highest cable car in the world.
Khilanmarg Ropeway near Gulmarg.
Gulmarg is easily accessible from Srinagar or Srinagar Airport (SXR), the capital of Kashmir, in under 2 hours by car or bus. Just 1 hour on the way is the town of Tangmarg, a key tourist attraction and also a main destination for skiers riding down from Gulmarg during the winter months. From Tangmarg, the Gulmarg plateau is just 30 minutes travel. Gulmarg has around 40 hotels ranging from extremely budget accommodation in private huts to hotels that are of a similar standard to a western Bed & Breakfast. When hotels say 5 star expect similar standards to the aforementioned bed and breakfast or motel. The peak season starts with the snowfall in December and lasts until March (April if it is a good season). The charges for one night stay during peak season in a hotel range typically between Rs1500 to Rs6500+, however there is also accommodation available for Rs500 which is only for the hardcore. The pre-season and post-season rates may have a discount but this is not standard.
According to CNN, Gulmarg is the "heartland of winter sports in India." Gulmarg was being mooted as a possible host for the 2010 Commonwealth Winter Games. As such, Gulmarg has been rated by CNN International as Asia's seventh best ski destination. This resort is famous because of its "Gulmarg Gondola," one of the highest cable car in the world, reaching 3,979 metres. The two-stage ropeway ferries about 600 people per hour to and from the gondola main station in Gulmarg to a shoulder of nearby Mt. Apharwat Summit (4,200 m (13,780 ft)). The ropeway project is a joint venture of the Jammu and Kashmir government and French firm Pomagalski. The first stage transfers from the Gulmarg resort at 2,600 m (8,530 ft) to Kongdoori Station in the bowl-shaped Kongdori valley. The second stage of the ropeway, which has 36 cabins and 18 towers, takes skiers to a height of 3,950 m (12,959 ft) on Kongdoori Mountain, a shoulder of nearby Mt. Afarwat Peak (4,200 m (13,780 ft)). The second stage was completed in a record time of about two years at a cost of Rs11 crore and opened on May 28, 2005. The French company had also built the first phase of the gondola project, connecting Gulmarg to Kongdoori, in 1998. The JKSCCC also proposes to construct chair lifts to connect Kongdoori with Mary s Shoulder for beginners and intermediate freeriders.
The heartland of winter sports in India , as quoted by CNN, is a gathering ground for all things extreme sports and outdoors related. In the winter, the diverse and extreme terrain combines with torrential snowfall to create a snow destination that is among the best in the world. As the destination itself is still undeveloped, skiers and riders never have to suffer the long queues that are so prevalent in other international snow destinations it is not uncommon to get up to 10 runs in a day from the top of the gondola and to be carving fresh lines in untracked snow for the best part of a day.
The summer is just as busy. With temperatures ranging from 25 to 30 C, Gulmarg attracts outdoor sports fanatics with its world class golfing, trekking, mountain biking, horse riding, water skiing, and fishing.
Gulmarg has a lot of highest things along with its name, and of them is the Gulmarg golf club. It is the highest green golf course in the world. There are a few places of religious importance near the resort within a 5 to 20 km radius like Baba Reshi, Haji Murad at Kreeri and Tangmarg.
Gulmarg is among the most famous tourist destinations in India, however, there is need for some stricted regulation to save the environment of the area from over tourism.
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