Gulmarg is rolling green meadows carpeted by bushes of wild flowers blending into snow-clad mountains, whose peaks peep into the clouds, and mountain streams rushing by, Gulmarg is sheer poetry in nature. While this is the summer landscape of this tiny hamlet in Jammu and Kashmir, in winter, it is transformed into a white wonderland, with skiers making a beeline for its famous slopes. The scenic valley of Gulmarg is a little piece of paradise cocooned by the mighty snow-clad mountains of the Pir Panjal range. Emerald green meadows, deep ravines and pine-forested hills make this meadow of flowers (the meaning of Gulmarg) an ethereal sight that has inspired poets and artists for centuries.
Located only 52 km from Srinagar, Gulmarg sits at an altitude of 2,730 m above sea level, and gets completely covered in snow during winter. This makes it a hub of winter adventure sports like snowboarding, heli-skiing (skiing down a mountain after being taken up by a helicopter), off-piste skiing (skiing on unconventional ski runs) etc. Its slopes have been declared as the 7th best for skiing in Asia.
Gulmarg lies in the lap of the towering Apharwat peak, which is accessible via the Gulmarg Gondola – the second highest cable car ride in the world. A ride on this gondola is a unique experience as it glides above hills and valleys and seems to gets lost in mist and clouds!
Gulmarg had once been a vacation spot for royalty and aristocracy. It is said that Sultan Yousuf Shah, who ruled Kashmir in 1579-1586 AD, was the first to have spotted this valley. And inspired by its rolling grassy slopes emblazoned with wild flowers, named it Gulmarg. It was also a favourite of Mughal emperor Jehangir. Skiing arrived in Gulmarg in 1927, when the British established the Ski Club of India.