We started from Pahalgam towards Gulmarg which is around 140Km away. Route goes via Srinagar but you need not to go inside Srinagar. Always visit Srinagar in the last if you have to catch flight from Srinagar. It’s always convenient and a logical decision. Better to book Taxi from Airport for all places where you want to visit , Taxi will charge you fixed amount that you have to pay in advance. In case you don’t want to pay full then just book taxi for one destination & then ask driver to book his taxi for all destinations. We found our taxi driver to be very co-operative and kind-hearted person.
On a way towards Gulmarg you will find many shops selling cricket bats and dry fruits. Highway is so beautiful that you can easily see ice clad mountains following you all the way to Gulmarg.
If you are visiting Gulmarg in summers, its well and good because taxi can go to Gulmarg directly but in winters taxi will drop you to Tangmarg. From Tangmarg to Gulmarg you need to hire four-wheeler with chains which will cost you around 1800Rs. From Srinagar you can also get shared taxi which can hardly cost you 100Rs. Book your hotel in advance if you are going in summers as most of the hotels are pre-booked due to peak season.
Gulmarg is a famous destination for Ski lovers. However the top most attraction in Gulmarg is Gondola. Gondola is hardly 600m away from Gulmarg main market. There is absolutely no need to hire rickshaw or taxi to reach there, you can easily reach Gondola Ride Booking counter by walking 10 min.
Top places to Visit in Gulmarg-
- Gondola ride
- Gulmarg Ski Ride Area
- Naagin valley
- Golf Course
- Alphather lake
There are few other places but they are too far from Gulmarg and takes too much time to reach due to unexpected weather conditions in Gulmarg.
Gondola is one of the largest and the highest rope-ways in Asia with distance of around 5km. Gondola Ride tickets are available at Gondola booking counters. Tickets are available for 2 phases. Phase 1 – Gulmarg to Kungdoor costs 740Rs , Phase 2- Kungdoor to Aparwarth costs 950Rs per adult(as on April 2018). If you are visiting in summer you can avoid being standing in long queue by booking your tickets online. You can also book your ticket online from here.
Timings– 10AM to 5PM which is highly dependable on weather conditions.
If you are going in summers , I advise you to book your tickets for Phase 2 as well as you will not be able to see any snow in phase 1. But I highly recommend to book for phase 2 whenever you visit Gondola. When you will reach Phase 2 you will see the beauty at its peak. Snow clad mountains everywhere as far as your eyes can see.
Phase 1 is at the height of around 2600 m . To reach Phase 1 of Gondola ride, it will take around 30 min, weather is very unexpected there and can be low as -2 Degree C in summers as well. There are few shops available at Phase 1 point where you can have famous Kashmiri tea or you can have Maggie. This is 2nd highest point from where Ski divers starts their journey to all the way down to Gondola. Ski season starts only in mid December to till end of April.
Most of people prefer to stay at Phase 1 as it is at low height plain land but covered with ice is available where one can do lot of sports activities. Views of pine trees covered with snow are breathtaking. Snowboarding is also available at Phase 1, one can enjoy it at cost of around 300Rs. Mountain biking is available at Phase 1 which will give you one of the best mountain biking experience in the world. My recommendation is to try it once, it is safe and exciting.
After you spend Time at Phase 1 you can start your journey for Phase 2, Phase 2 is located at the height of around 3750 m. View towards the upward journey will definitely surprise you . Also as you go upward you will feel how little oxygen is available at this height but the views are really jaw-breaking. You can easily see people doing Skiing from inside the cable car. Chair car is also available but it is mostly advisable to take chair car if you going for Skiing.
It takes around 20-30min to reach Phase 2 from Phase 1. You can view the Ice covered mountains from there even the peak of highest mountain K2. Gulmarg taxi stand can be easily seen from top if weather is clear & shiny. It is not advisable to stay for long at Phase 2 due to low level of oxygen and abrupt weather changing phenomenon but you are allowed to stay for longer time if you have reached there early. Those who reached Phase 2 after 3pm are warned using loud speakers not to stay longer. Some of the mountains visible from the top are said to be LOC , which is just few km away from here.Its is always snowing at this height.
I am not sure if one can describe the beauty of this place that you can feel and see at the top of Apharwat Peak. This peak receives heavy snowfall through out the year.
If you are going to Phase 2, better to take snow-boots on rent otherwise you could do nothing but regret. Snow-boots are easily available in Tangmarg or in Gulmarg Market on rent which hardly cost 100Rs.
Return journey from Phase 2 will again give you stunning few of Gulmarg & far places only if you are lucky enough as weather is mostly foggy.
Gulmarg is must place to visit if you are coming to Kashmir & I highly recommend it, this was one of the best cable car experience I ever had in my Life. Gulmarg is known as the Heartland of winter sports in India.