Friday, June 9, 2023

Tourism      Adventure Sports      Snow Skiing      Jammu and Kashmir     Gulmarg    


Place : Gulmarg, Jammu & Kashmir
Best time for skiing : Mid December- mid April
Facilities : Gondola Lift, Ski Lift, Chair Lift, Toboggans, Sledges and Snow Cycles, imported snow beaters, ski equipment’s available, ski instructors, etc
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Located 56-km south west of Srinagar, Gulmarg is a mountain shelf which nestles under the protective 4124 metre height and 5 km spread of Mount Apharwat. From here it has a view over the valley of Kashmir to 8126 metre Nanga Parbat and other distant peaks. Gulmarg, one of the ultimate skiing hot spot for intermediate skiers, is in the western extremity of Pir Panjal, one of the six ranges which make up the world's highest peak Himalayas. The place gets some of the heaviest snowfalls in India and has earned the distinction of being the best ski resort in the Himalayas. This resort was established in the year 1927 by two British Army officers who set up the first skiing club in Gulmarg. Festivals like Christmas and Easter are occasions for organized skiing races here.

The 3.5 km long and up to a km wide valley of Gulmarg which is about 3-sq-kms in area stands at an altitude of 2,650 metres. Known as Kashmir's premier upland hill resort, the gentle undulating meadows of Gulmarg are carpeted in a thick layer of snow. The resort has one T-bar lift, three very modern ski-lifts and a chair-lift. The ski school, Indian Institute of Skiing and Mountaineering located here conducts 10 day and 21 day short ski courses for beginners and advanced skiers. Gulmarg is considered to be the cheapest in the world to learn skiing.

Gulmarg's slopes are all natural slopes. Among the multitudes of slopes, a few gentle slope of ski runs ranging from 200 m to 3kms are specially suited for beginners. Ski lifts and chair lifts take skiers up to the top of the ski slopes from where skiers can choose the beginners, intermediate or more advanced slopes.

The best and longest skiing in Gulmarg is accessed by the Gandola Cable Car Lift, which allows a ski run of 2,213 m. Designed by Poma of France, gondola ascends extends almost to the peak of Apharwat, at an elevation of 3980 metres above sea level, providing lift served access to 1330 vertical metres of vast snow riding terrain. Due to the setting-up of Gandola Cable Car Lift from Gulmarg to Apharwat top, Gulmarg holds a position as one of the highest lift-served ski resorts in the world. 

The gondola terrain is divided into two sections, i.e an upper and a lower section. The first section is 2,350 m long and rises 450m vertically from Gulmarg ski resort to slopes at 3300m up the side of Apharwat Mountain. 

The newly built second section runs to over 4,000m, just below the peak of Apharwat. From the top station, it will take a 30 minute walk to reach the peak. One can glide from there, in either direction over a couple of kilometers, before descending the mountain's multiple ridges, faces and bowls. The gliding from the northwest direction includes magnificent and consistent advanced slopes to distant parts of the Gulmarg meadow.

The southeast direction provides a total ride of over 1700 vertical metres of serious off-piste terrain. The gliding from gondola's top to mid stations provides a superb array of high alpine slopes for advanced and expert level skiing. 

Presently, only the first section of the Gandola, from Gulmarg to Kongdori is operational, giving a downhill ski run of about 3.5 kms. The gentle slope area, with plenty of gigantic pines and firs, served by first section or stage one of the gondola provides well protected riding in all weather conditions.

The poma slopes which are a few hundred metres walk from the gondola, provides an excellent variety of wide open beginner and intermediate practice terrain. The area is the venue for Gulmarg's ski school and race clinics

The skiing season in Gulmarg usually commences before Christmas (around middle of December) and continues till middle of April. Trained instructors are available for guiding the tourists and also casual skiers. Good quality equipment, including skis, boots, sticks, gloves and goggles are available on hire on the spot from the Government-run ski shop. Toboggans and snow scooters are also available on hire.

Heli-skiing is also possible at Gulmarg which is an ultimate winter sports thrill for the adventure sports lover. In heli-skiing, helicopters lift the heli-skiers to the high, snow-covered peak of their choice from where they can ski down the slopes.