Gulmarg Unleashed: A Photographic Journey through the Crown Jewel of Kashmir

Gulmarg Unleashed: A Photographic Journey through the Crown Jewel of Kashmir

Gulmarg, nestled in the picturesque Kashmir valley, is often referred to as the crown jewel of the region. Gulmarg is the snow-sports capital of India, situated about 5 km from Srinagar. This serene destination is well-known for its stunning vistas, vibrant culture, thrilling adventure sports, and delectable local cuisine. Adventure sports like skiing, snowboarding, snow sledging etc. are played on the mountains here when covered with white sheets of snow. This is one such winter hill station where the enjoyment of snow skiing can also be enjoyed with sightseeing! Whether you are an avid photographer or simply a nature lover, Gulmarg offers endless opportunities to capture breathtaking moments. Join us on a photographic journey as we explore the essence of Gulmarg.Gulmarg Unleashed: A Photographic Journey through the Crown Jewel of Kashmir

Exploring the Natural Beauty

Gulmarg is renowned for its awe-inspiring natural beauty. Surrounded by snow-capped mountains, lush green meadows, and vibrant flowers, this paradise on earth is a delight for photographers. Capture the ethereal beauty of the iconic Apharwat Peak as it stands tall against the deep blue sky. Frame the majestic Nanga Parbat, one of the highest peaks in the world, and its reflection in the crystal-clear waters of Alpather Lake. Wander through the enchanting forests of pine and fir and capture the play of light and shadows that dance upon the forest floor.

Gulmarg: Kashmir’s Crown Jewel UnveiledGulmarg Unleashed: A Photographic Journey through the Crown Jewel of Kashmir

Kashmir is heaven on earth with its rugged Himalayan peaks, green plains, sandy valleys, lakes, and rivers. Geographically, Kashmir is the northernmost state of the country, so figuratively, it is called the crown of India. Nature has studded a number of ‘diamonds’ in this crown, one of which is Gulmarg, situated at an altitude of 2,650 meters (8,690 feet) amidst the Pir Panjal range of the Himalayas in the Baramulla district of Kashmir, named after Parvati, wife of Lord Shiva, by a local shepherd in ancient times for its captivating beauty. It was named ‘Gauri Marg’. For years, this region remained isolated and unknown to the outside world. But after the arrival of the Mughal rulers, the fame of this region spread abroad.

Gulmarg: From Sultan Yusuf Shah to Mughal Majesty—A Floral Symphony that Captivated Emperors and ConquerorsGulmarg Unleashed: A Photographic Journey through the Crown Jewel of Kashmir

In the sixteenth century, Sultan Yusuf Shah, a ruler of the Chak dynasty, is said to have visited the Gauri Marg. He named the Gauri Marg as ‘Gulmarg’ after seeing the sheets of colorful flowers that were seen far and wide on the mountain slopes here. (Persian word gul = flower.) Years later, Mughal Emperor Jahangir caught sight of Gulmarg. He fell in love with the place as soon as he saw it and ‘imported’ 21 different types of flowering plants for his garden. In the nineteenth century, Gulmarg came under the notice of the British bureaucrats of British India and was inhabited. White Englishmen, fond of hunting and golf, began to develop Gulmarg as a hill station for their summer stays.

Gulmarg’s Green Retreat: From Golf Courses to Military Standoff

Gulmarg Unleashed: A Photographic Journey through the Crown Jewel of Kashmir

The terrain of the green grounds here was ideal for the game of golf. So they built 3 golf courses at different places, one of which was made only for Latsaheb’s wives. After independence, during the Indo-Pakistani war of 1947-48, Pakistan made a plan to ascend from Haji Pir Ghat to Srinagar via Gulmarg under ‘Operation Gulmarg’. To execute this plan, an army of illiterate hill tribes like Pathan, Masud, Afridi, Wazir, etc. formed by the Pakistani infantry came to Gulmarg and proceeded from there to reach Srinagar, but King Hari Singh of Kashmir signed the annexation document with India. The soldiers of the Indian Air Force confronted the Pakistani army. Gulmarg and other villages were recovered from the Pakistanis. India succeeded in retaining a beautiful, captivating hill station.Gulmarg Unleashed: A Photographic Journey through the Crown Jewel of Kashmir

Today, Gulmarg is one of the most popular hill stations in India. In winter, the mountain slopes are covered with snow, and tourists flock to enjoy various adventure sports, while in summer, the mountains are covered with green grass, and tourists flock to enjoy the natural beauty and trekking. Gulmarg is developing as a multifarious tourist destination. While Gulmarg is beautiful, the road from Srinagar to Gulmarg is equally beautiful. The distance is 50 Km, it takes about 2 hours to travel by road. But for nature and photography enthusiasts who want to stand on the road and enjoy the natural beauty and capture it on camera, the journey will be quite long. Especially the final 15 km from Tangmarg to Gulmarg, which is very scenic as it winds its way through pine and willow forests,.

Indulging in Adventure SportsGulmarg Unleashed: A Photographic Journey through the Crown Jewel of Kashmir

For the adventurous souls, Gulmarg offers a plethora of adrenaline-pumping activities. Capture the thrill of skiing down the powdery slopes with the snow-clad peaks as your backdrop. Freeze the exhilaration of snowboarding as you glide effortlessly through the white paradise. Photograph the graceful movements of paragliders as they soar through the sky, offering a unique perspective of the breathtaking landscape below.

The Capital of Winter SportsGulmarg Unleashed: A Photographic Journey through the Crown Jewel of Kashmir

Developed as a summer hill station by British bureaucrats nearly a century ago, Gulmarg today is busier in the winter season than in the summer. Gulmarg is one of the most beautiful places for snow skiing, not only in India but also in the whole of Asia. In addition, Gulmarg has become the capital of adventure sports like skiing, snowboarding, tobogganing (snow sledging), heliskiing, ice skating. Rather steep slopes with a thick layer of snow on them and long stretches of terrain without any form of obstruction (e.g., trees or rocks) are essential aspects of skiing and other snow sports. As all these are very well preserved inGulmarg Unleashed: A Photographic Journey through the Crown Jewel of Kashmir Gulmarg, many types of adventure sports are played here. A special course is run by the Indian Institute of Stoving and Mountaineering in Gulmarg for those who want to learn scrounging by the Department of Tourism, Government of India. Accommodation and meals are also provided by the institute for the entrepreneurs participating in the course. For more information, visit www.iismgulmarg.in

Skiing, in general, is not a sport that can be learned instantly. Initially, it is difficult to stand and walk while wearing skiing slides. So it is advisable to take a package with at least a 3-day course to enjoy skiing in real life. However, the general tourist can definitely enjoy theGulmarg Unleashed: A Photographic Journey through the Crown Jewel of Kashmir primary fun of skiing at Kongdori and Mary Shoulder by taking the Gulmarg Gondola.

There is also an arrangement for heliskiing, especially for hobbyists who have acquired skills in skiing. Riding in a helicopter to the starting point (the edge of a steep plinth) and then jumping several feet deep into the snow and coming back down is known as heliskiing. This sport is only for skilled skiing adventurers and also for those whose pockets are full. Because the price of heliskiing in Gulmarg is about Rs. 16,500. Hence, it is mostly enjoyed by foreign adventurers, and for that, they camp here for days.

Snow scooters are also available for those tourists who feel at risk of skiing with ankle boots. Another option is a wooden sledge. After reaching the top of the hill, one can enjoy riding the sledge and sliding down on the snow.

 

Immersing in the Local Culture

Gulmarg Unleashed: A Photographic Journey through the Crown Jewel of Kashmir

Gulmarg is not only a visual treat but also a cultural haven. Immerse yourself in the warm hospitality and rich traditions of the local Kashmiri people. Engage with the locals, visit traditional Kashmiri houses, and capture the essence of their daily lives. Photograph the intricate handcrafted Kashmiri carpets and intricate silver jewelry, widely celebrated for their craftsmanship. Indulge in conversations with the locals and discover their stories, capturing the rich tapestry of their heritage.

Savoring Local CuisineGulmarg Unleashed: A Photographic Journey through the Crown Jewel of Kashmir

No journey is complete without indulging in the local cuisine. Gulmarg offers a delectable array of Kashmiri delicacies that will tantalize your taste buds. Photograph the aromatic kebabs and delectable Rogan Josh, capturing the vibrant colors and flavors of the region. Don’t miss the opportunity to capture the traditional Wazwan feast, with its elaborate spread of dishes and rich cultural significance. Visit the local markets and capture the vivid displays of spices, saffron, and dried fruits, depicting the essence of Kashmiri flavors.

Kashmiri food and cuisineGulmarg Unleashed: A Photographic Journey through the Crown Jewel of Kashmir

Foodies can enjoy the flavors of Kashmir in Gulmarg, Srinagar. There are options for vegetarians like Kashmiri Dum Aalu, Paneer Chaman, Kashmiri Saag, Mondhur Pulao, Nadru Yakhini, which is made from Lotus Stem, etc., while non-vegetarians can enjoy dishes like Rogan Josh, Wazwan, Ab Gost, etc.

Kashmiri Kahwa Delight: A Sip of Tradition, Warmth, and Wellness

Gulmarg Unleashed: A Photographic Journey through the Crown Jewel of Kashmir

The unmissable drink here is the Kashmiri Kahwa, which is made with green tea, cinnamon, cloves, saffron, cardamom, other spices, honey, and dry fruits. Apart from warming the body, Karmiri Kahwa is usually drunk after eating Kashmiri dishes, which also helps in digestion and fat reduction according to its medicinal properties. The word kahwa (or kahawa) in Kashmiri means sweet tea. However, the taste is slightly pungent due to the cinnamon clove. The drink was consumed by the Uyghur community in the Yaqand Valley region (present-day northwest China) of the Kushan Empire during the first and second centuries AD. After that, it spread to other regions of Asia. The green tea used in Kahwa was exported from the Kangra Valley of Himachal Pradesh to Kashmir,Gulmarg Unleashed: A Photographic Journey through the Crown Jewel of Kashmir Afghanistan, and Central Asian countries, and even today the same green tea is used to make Kahwa. Kashmiri Muslims use copper, and Kashmiri Pandits use bronze vessels (samovar in the local language) to make Kahva. At the center of the vessel is a chimney-like structure for burning coal, which keeps the water in the vessel continuously boiling around it. Green tea, cinnamon, cloves, and Seffron are added to this boiling water. Sometimes dry fruits like almonds, cashews, pistachios, etc. are also sprinkled on top of Kashmiri kahwa. When the weather is cold, the taste of Kashmiri Kahwa, which brings instant warmth to the body after taking one or two gulps, is not to be missed.

Gulmarg Gondola

Gulmarg Unleashed: A Photographic Journey through the Crown Jewel of Kashmir

Adorned with pine forests, the main attraction of Gulmarg is the snow. But the second number can be given to the ropeway here. Asia’s highest ropeway record belongs to Gulmarg. Gulmarg Gondola is a ropeway that has been proven to be a must-see for this hill station, attracting thousands of tourists every year. It is divided into three phases. The first phase, opened in May 1998, takes tourists to Kongdori at 2,650 m (8,690 ft), about 32 m from the base of Gulmarg at an altitude of 10,500 ft. Here are some easy skiing options available to tourists. Each gondola can accommodate up to six tourists as it winds its way through cedar trees and over icy slopes.Gulmarg Unleashed: A Photographic Journey through the Crown Jewel of Kashmir

In peak season, from March to May, each gondola carries approximately 600 passengers per hour. The second phase, which opened in May 2005, of the ropeway takes from Kongdori to Mount Afarwat. The height of Afarwat is 4,118 meters, / 13,500 feet, above sea level. The famous Himalayan Pir Panjal range is visible from here, leaving tourists speechless. Afarwat Peak can be reached by a 30-minute trek from the ropeway station. A spectacular view of the line of control as well as across the line of control can be seen from here. If the weather is clear, Mount Nanga, which is the ninth highest peak in the world, Harmukh, Rakhiyot, Shaigiri, Toshe-1, 2, 3, 4, Chongra etc. are also visible.Gulmarg Unleashed: A Photographic Journey through the Crown Jewel of Kashmir

The third stage of the Gulmarg Gondola, in the form of a chair lift, takes skiing enthusiasts from Kongdori to Mary Shoulder. Here, tourists can enjoy high-altitude skiing. The chair lift, designed to accommodate skiing equipment, can carry 1,000 passengers per hour. A trip in the Gulmarg Gondola, offering a panoramic view of the heavens called the Himalayas, becomes a lifetime memory for the tourist.

* First Stage Ticket in Gondola: Rs. 740/-, Travel time: 9 minutes
# Second Stage: Rs. 950/-, Travel Time: 12 minutes
# Chair Lift: Rs. 270/-. Travel time: 11 minutes (Children aged 11 years and below are not admitted to the chair lift.)
Gondola Timings: 10 am to 5 pm (Recess: 1 to 2 pm)

Places near GulmargGulmarg Unleashed: A Photographic Journey through the Crown Jewel of Kashmir

Afarwat Mountain can be trekked to Alpather Lake. Since this lake remains completely frozen from November to March, it is also called a frozen lake. One can walk on the icy surface of the frozen lake. As the snow begins to melt after March, the ice sheets floating on the surface make for a beautiful sight. After the month of May, the wonderful combination of the blue water of the lake, the surrounding green fields, horses and mules grazing somewhere in it, the beautiful flowerbeds spread over the plains, and the tall peaks in the background is like a painting by nature!

Alpather Lake: Serenity Amidst ChallengeGulmarg Unleashed: A Photographic Journey through the Crown Jewel of Kashmir

There is also a motorway to reach this lake, which is about 13 km from Gulmarg, but due to its proximity to the LOC, it is used only by the Indian Army for security reasons. Apart from this, trekking enthusiasts can also reach Alpather Lake by trekking up the Afrawat mountain from the second station of the gondola ride. The track is a bit long and physically demanding, but the sightings during this duration are fantastic.

Gulmarg Wonders: Khilanamarg and Beyond: A Trekker’s and Photographer’s ParadiseGulmarg Unleashed: A Photographic Journey through the Crown Jewel of Kashmir

There is no doubt that every place in the Kashmir Valley is a paradise for photographers and trekkers. Khilanamarg, 6 km from Gulmarg, is also a picturesque place. This place can be reached by tracking here or by pony (mule) ride. During the summer, the fragrant and colorful sheets of flowers blooming in the plains of Khilanmarg are a sight to behold. The glimpse of Nanga Mountain and Nun-kun peaks from here is also an unforgettable treat. Apart from this, other tourist attractions around Gulmarg include NingaliGulmarg Unleashed: A Photographic Journey through the Crown Jewel of Kashmir Nala, a spring formed by melting snow on the slopes of Afrawat mountain and its scenic surroundings; Maharani Mandir, built by Maharaja Hari Singh’s wife Mohinibai Sishodhi; and Baba Resi Ziyarat (shrine) of the 13th-century Muslim saint Baba Payamuddin, situated amidst the vast grasslands of Gulmarg. Victorian-style St. Mary’s church, the second-highest in India, a large golf course in use for nearly 100 years, the Kanchenjunga Museum displaying historical to modern mountaineering equipment, etc. If you are fond of trekking, the famous Great Seven Lakes Track, Tarsar and Marsar Lake Tracks, as mentioned above, Khilanmarg Track, Alpather Track, Afrawat Track, etc. can be considered during your trip to Gulmarg.

Good to know:

Perfect Time to Visit:

December to the end of May is the best time to enjoy skiing and snow. The greenery here can be best enjoyed during the period from June to October.

Transportation:

Gulmarg Unleashed: A Photographic Journey through the Crown Jewel of Kashmir

The nearest airport to Gulmarg is Srinagar (50 km), and the nearest railway station is Jammu (300 km). Gulmarg can be reached by taxi from here. Bus service is also available from Katra to Gulmarg. In winter, it is not suggested to bring your own vehicle, as only 4×4 vehicles can run on the snow covered roads. However, snow chains for own vehicles are available on rent here. Bus service is also available from Srinagar to Tangmarg. Vehicles like jeeps are available from Tangmarg to Gulmarg.

Accommodation:

Many options of hotels and resorts at Gulmarg is available. Some of the famous and affordable hotels include Afarwat, Pine View Resort, Hotel Nedous, Hotel Fluorescence. Information about Guest Houses of Kashmir Tourism Department can be found on the website: https://www.jktdc.co.in/CityHotels.aspx?Cid=3.

Plus Know:

Gulmarg Unleashed: A Photographic Journey through the Crown Jewel of Kashmir

From Taxi Parking to Ropeway Station in Gulmarg, the distance is only 600 meters. However, the people who provide mule rides there sometimes charge up to 1000–1500 rupees from the tourists, saying that the distance is 3 kilometers. However, tourists who don’t want to walk can decide on a fare of up to 500 rupees.

* Apart from trekking, no guide is required to visit Gulmarg.

* If you own a vehicle, it is required to leave Srinagar with a full tank of fuel. The last petrol pump on the way to Gulmarg is at Tangmarg.

* The tourism department has fixed certain rates for skiing and other adventure sports in Gulmarg. Here is the price list: https://travelmykashmir.com/gulmarg-ski-and-snowboard-packages/

Gulmarg Unleashed: A Photographic Journey through the Crown Jewel of Kashmir

Conclusion

Gulmarg is a paradise for photographers, nature enthusiasts, and adventure seekers. From the stunning natural landscapes to the vibrant local culture and mouthwatering cuisine, every aspect of Gulmarg offers a unique opportunity to capture its essence through the lens. Embark on a photographic journey and let your camera be your guide as you explore the crown jewel of Kashmir.

 

 

Gulmarg Unleashed: A Photographic Journey through the Crown Jewel of Kashmir


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3 thoughts on “Gulmarg Unleashed: A Photographic Journey through the Crown Jewel of Kashmir”

  1. Thank you so much for sharing all this wonderful info….!!! It is so appreciated!!!” “You always have good humor in your posts/blogs

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