St Mary's Church


Gulmarg lies delicately spread around a large saucer shaped valley, almost a plateau, on the side of Apherwat mountain. About 50 kilometres west of the capital Srinagar, the resort was founded by the British during the Raj era, and the small church of St Mary in the centre of Gulmarg pays testimony to that. The days of horse draw' lifts are long gone now and instead, Gulmarg boasts a project to build the world's highest skiable gondola. Following an early snowfall this year, it was looking as if the project would be delayed a further year. However recent reports (2/12/04) have suggested that the new second phase of the Gulmarg Gondola will open on 25th December! Happy Christmas!

Although the first snow may come in September, the ski season does not really get underway until mid to late December. January is a cold but extremely fluffy month, while the sun begins to shine through between blizzards in February. Depending on the level of snowfall so far, the snowline can start to retreat up the mountain in March, though skiing is still possible from the peak in April, and even May. The new gondola will of course make the end of the season a lot more accessible.

From left to right:

The world's highest gondola in construction March 2004

Looking north through the telephone wires

Shepherd huts


The current Phase One of the Gulmarg Gondola ascends to the treeline at 3100m, though it isn't particularly popular among local and Indian skiers. Three small slopes on the sides of hills within Gulmarg's ‘saucer' are however very popular. Here you will often find a throng of people, not necessarily always skiing, but certainly enjoying! Two slopes are served by button lifts and offer a reasonable place to learn or brush up on those alpine skills, before hitting some of that Himalayan powder ! Gulmarg's slopes have something to offer everybody, from the expert skier or snowboarder to the absolute beginner. The lush soft powder offers beginners the chance to get straight to where the action is, without as much risk of injury as you might find on icy alpine pistes! Gulmarg's elevation makes for extremely light powder snow, which falls regularly in 2ft plus showers. The general terrain is varied … Apherwat's huge gullies and ridges descend into tight treelines, sweeping meadows, and shepherd huts; where hundreds of tree stumps make bumps for jumps while many other tree trunks, knolls and 'nullahs' (gullies or streams), make for some great technical challenges. The slopes below Gulmarg offer even more great spots and some of the steepest terrain. From the rise of the sun behind the Great Himalaya in the morning, to the sounds of thousands of crows returning to roost at dusk, to Kashmiri friendliness and hospitality, Gulmarg offers the chance to rediscover the intimacy and the inspiration that perhaps many other resorts have lost around the world.

Gulmarg's central slopes:

Two of Gulmarg's more famous skiers

and a Kashmiri Daredevil




How to get to Gulmarg and Kashmir:

Air -

Srinagar, the capital of Kashmir, is a two hour flight from Delhi and is also connected with Leh in Ladakh. Flight costs vary between $200 and $250 return from Delhi.

Bus -

Direct ‘luxury' buses depart Delhi from Connaught Place and Old Delhi daily. The journey takes between 24 and 32 hours with lots of breaks. The cost is 700-900 Rs and tickets should be available from most travel agents in Delhi. Be sure to check exactly where your bus leaves from and arrange a taxi or rickshaw to take you there if in doubt. Make sure you leave in plenty of time.

Train & Taxi -

It is possible to take a train from New Delhi train station to Jammu (11-15 hrs). You can find a shared taxi to Srinagar at Jammu bus and coach station. This should cost between 150 and 300 Rs in a full car , more if the car is not full. From Jammu to Srinagar by taxi it takes 9-12 hours. If you arrive on time it is possible to take a taxi to Srinagar that day and arrive in the evening. However if your train is late you may be forced to stay in Jammu. In all honesty this is not recommended unless you need the rest!

Bus & Taxi -

The bus, public or private, is more punctual though more uncomfortable than the train to Jammu. At the latest it should arrive in Jammu by 9am, giving you ample time to reach Srinagar that day. Buses from Delhi to Jammu cost 300 Rs for a public bus to 500 Rs for a ‘luxury' private coach.




  Taxis can be booked from your houseboat to Gulmarg for about 1000Rs. Unfortunately there is no taxi stand where you can find a shared taxi to Gulmarg. The only other option is to take a rickshaw or taxi to Batmaloo bus depot, a few kilometers from the city centre and Dal Lake . Buses leave at 9am and 11am for Tangmarg, the nearest village to Gulmarg. The bus costs 13Rs takes about 2 hours and can get pretty chock-a-block. After two hours you will reach Tangmarg, where you might like to stock up on fruit or pop into the bakery on the main road. From here you may have to wait a while for another bus to Gulmarg (10Rs), or take a shared taxi up which will be 20Rs a head in a full car and will leave sooner.


Around Gulmarg


One road goes all the way around the golf course, completing a full circuit of Gulmarg, so you can get to every hotel in your taxi. If you get dropped off by the bus or shared taxi at the bus stand, you will be near the main gathering of shops and hotels. From here the road heads west to the gondola which sits in the left corner as you look at Mt Apherwat. The ring road then curves around towards Gulmarg's other slopes and on to the Highlands Park Hotel. From here it goes down and around to the Golf Club, before hugging Gulmarg's eastern edge and returning to the bus stand. There are also a couple of modest paths across the golf course from the bus stand to the Hotel Highlands park and from the main hotel area to the little church and the Kashmiri Alpine Ski Shop.

Dogs wait for scraps of fresh chicken in Gulmarg's village. Gulmarg's local inhabitants live here, tucked away from the main part of the resort.


Ski and Snowboard Hire

  Skis and Snowboards are available to hire at the Kashmir Alpine Ski Shop. There is also a government run shack that stocks ski but no snowboards. Please see the page on the Kashmir Alpine Ski Shop for more details.


Ski Passes

  A ride on the old gondola costs 50Rs (1$US). A ride on the new gondola will cost another 50Rs. Tickets are bought for the day at the main ticket office in the car park. Last season a weekly pass cost about 2400Rs(50$US) though this never worked out to be the economic option. We will update you with any new arrangements. The button lifts down in Gulmarg cost about 30Rs a day.




Hotels are dotted all around Gulmarg. The Hotel Highlands Park is perhaps the finest with its colonial atmosphere. There is also the Hotel Hilltop and the Hotel Pine Palace which are nearer to the gondola. Double rooms at these hotels start at about 2500 Rs at the Pine Palace , to 5000Rs for suites at the Hilltop or Highlands Park . It is also possible to stay at the Golf Clubhouse for similar prices. We hope to update you with telephone numbers in the near future.

Situated next to the Hotel Hilltop is the cheaper Green Heights hotel, where you may find a double room for 800+Rs. The highest density of hotels can be found near the bus stand. You will see all of these when you first arrive in Gulmarg. Hotels here include the Kingsley, Apherwat, and Zam Zam among others. Their prices are fairly similar around 600-1000Rs a double.

For cheaper accommodation you should contact the Kashmiri Alpine ski shop (please see the next page). It is also possible to get a cheaper room at the Green Punjabi Dhaba Hotel, run by the Bakshi family. It is near the bus stand and the food and service here is excellent. Expect to pay between 50Rs and 400Rs per person depending on what sort of accomodation and food you are after.

The J&K government also has huts for rent. Last season these cost 600Rs a night plus 150Rs for gas. They have hot water and a shower, and have a good location near to the gondola.

Prices are mostly based on last season, and will be updated in the New Year,



Frequently Asked Questions:

“Is Kashmir Safe

-Attacks on foreign tourists are extremely rarely and there is a significant army presence in Kashmir. Indeed far few foreigners have gone missing in Kashmir in the last ten years, than in other Indian tourist hotspots such as Rishikesh or Manali. Gulmarg to our knowledge has never had any incidents.

This year has seen a big improvement in the security situation in Kashmir. Previously safety in the region has had two sides: India and Pakistan threatening war, and different Kashmiri militants fighting for seemingly different things. Since December 2003 Pakistan and India have returned to the negotiating table and have been making positive signs all year. There have been a number of meetings between the two sides and both parties have reappeared after each one positive that agreements can be made. Kashmir is clearly the sticking point - the problem is as old as India and Pakistan themselves, and has caused two wars.

The militant situation has also improved this year. The Indian army seems to have made significant progress in reducing their numbers, so much so that a withdrawal of Indian troops has been ordered. At one point a few years ago there were allegedly some 200 militant groups, some pro-Pakistan, some pro-India, some pro-independent. It is a complicated situation no doubt, but one that hopefully will continue to improve.

“Will the gondola be finished this year?”

-It didn't look like it in September, but recent reports from early December have said the new Gulmarg Gondola Phase Two would be running on Christmas Day?

“Is there any avalanche control?”

-The local Indian army mortar the main high slopes, however last year this was not done very often as tourist numbers were still low. It remains to be seen what will happen this year with the new Gondola working. As of September no avalanche control barriers had been erected. Please look for an update in January.

“How cold does it get?”

-January is really cold, with temperatures staying well below 0 Celsius, so be prepared. The sun comes out in February but it is still chilly in the shade.

"Can you get ski or snowboard clothing in Gulmarg? "

There is clothing available for hire at the Kashmir Alpine Ski Shop and the Government ski depot (for more info see the KASS page) If day-glo isn't your thing you could try to pick up something or have it made in Srinagar or Delhi. Nepal and Sri Lanka are also reportedly good places to pick up winter and ski clothing.

“Are there any pistes?”

-Only two small ungroomed but much skied slopes in Gulmarg itself. There was a groomed slope at the top of the old gondola for the Indian Winter Olympics last year, which may well return this year depending on numbers. There is no lift for this though and the driver of the piste-basher was not particularly inclined to give lifts last year! Otherwise it's all virgin Himalayan powder!

“What's the food like in Kashmir?”

-If you like fine rogan josh and garlic naan, then you are in for a treat. Eating meat is universally accepted in Kashmir unlike in much of India where it can be rather dodgy. There are some superb restaurants in Gulmarg and Srinagar serving fantastic Kashmiri cuisine as well as more international food. The food on the houseboats on Dal Lake is good, showing that every family in Kashmir has a least one good cook! Also check out the Afghan korma, and rajmah, in fact try and eat it all! Kashmiri bakeries are filled with tasty sweets and breads, and the produce in the markets has incredible flavour, be it apples, walnuts, cherries, dates or onions and carrots. Kashmir is also famous for its saffron, an extremely aromatic and potent natural flavour and colouring. It is produced from the stamens of the saffron flower. Try a couple of these hairs with some ‘curd' if you get the chance…. deeeelicious! Saffron also makes up one of 11 different ingredients to Kashmiri 'Kawa' tea, which is sweet and without milk. As we are on the subject of food and drink, Kashmir is almost entirely alcohol free, ( but not quite 100%) . A couple of hotels in Gulmarg do stock spirits, but alcohol is generally hard to come by.

“Is there any budget accommodation in Gulmarg?”

-For cheap room and board you should try the Kashmir Alpine Ski shop. If they are full you could try the friendly Bakshi family at the Green Punjabi Dhaba. Great food and friendly service! Apart from these two options

“What else is there to do in Gulmarg?”

-Well if skiing and snowboarding in some of the best conditions on the planet is not enough, there are some spectacular walks to be done – quite beautiful in crisp February. There are many Sledge-wallahs (guys selling sledge rides) if you fancy that. There is also the Golf Club where you can relax in style or play a game of snooker. There is a new gym ‘complex' that also offers a hairdressing salon and a new internet service.

"What is the nightlife like?"

Gulmarg is a lot more relaxed than western style resorts. In other words there isn't really much of a nightlife. Time is well-spent discussing the next day's descents!. But who knows, with a few more discerning foreign tourists we may see a karaoke bar ot two pop up


Photos © Joe Wyand and © Dove E Dove

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