Gulmarg is a city in the Kashmir Valley and is noted for lush green meadows and wildflowers in summer and endless snow field during winter. It is also a hub for winter sports activities. It also houses a high-altitude cable car, popularly known as gondola.
You can reach Gulmarg by car or bus from Srinagar (summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir) in 1.5 hours. In summer the SRTC daily sightseeing coaches are available in the morning at Tourist Reception Center (₹351). Local buses are available only up to the Tangmarg market from where the mini coaches can be hired up to Gulmarg. Taxis can be hired from any taxi stand at fixed one way or return journey charges. During winter, a Jeep-type vehicle (Scorpio, Qualis or Sumo) is recommended as the regular snowfall and below zero temperatures make the Tangmarg-Gulmarg road portion highly slippery with narrow passage. A travel agent’s assistance can be useful.
A number of informal checkpoints exist along the road to Gulmarg, which appear to be staffed by armed volunteers. Tipping may be necessary to pass any given checkpoint.
The main attraction is the gondola. Finished in 2004, it runs up to 3,995 meters. A sight-seeing trip to the top of the gondola will cost you ₹740 for Stage One (Gulmarg to Kungdoor) and ₹950 for Stage Two (Kungdoor to Apparwath) for a return trip; singles (for skiers, for example) are half the price, with a day pass available for ₹1,200. You can decide whether you wish to go to Stage Two when you have reached Stage One. Stage Two is at a much higher elevation, right on the hill top, and is clearly visible from the Gulmarg taxi stand. The hills visible from the top are said to be LOC and Pakistan-administered Kashmir (specifically Nanga Parbat and (supposedly) the very tip of K2).
1. Alpather Lake : Popularly known as the frozen lake the Alpather Lake is situated at an altitude of 4390 m and is located at the foot of the twin Apharwat Peaks. The lake is surrounded by rocky mountains and lush green meadows, complete with blooming wild flowers. It is located very near the Line of Control (LOC) between India and Pakistan and camping is not allowed on the banks of the lake. The lake is connected to Gulmarg by road however the road is for military purposes and civilians are not allowed on the road. The lake is at a distance of 14 km from Gulmarg and is best reached by cable car (Gondola). The lake is about 3 km from the last cable stop located beneath the Afarwat Peak. Ponies and guides are available but in snow free condition the path is well marked
2. Baba Reshi Shrine : It is the resting place of Sufi saint Baba Payam uddin Reshi. The original structure dates back to 1840 but it has been modified over the years. The shrine and its surrounding garden is a tourist attraction as well as a destination for pilgrims visiting the shrine. It is situated at a height of 7,000 feet (2,133 meters) and is located on the road to Tanmarg.
3. Cable Car to Kongdori : The two stage high altitude cable car is popularly known as Gondola. The first phase operates from Gulmarg to Kongdori. The second phase starts from Kongdori and goes up to the shoulder of Afarwat Peak. Kongdori is connected to the beautiful meadows of Khilanmarg (3 km one way). The second and the higher stops connect to Alpathar Lake, an high altitude lake, which remains frozen for most part of the year.
4. Gulmarg Golf Club : The golf course located at a height of 2,650 metres (8,690 ft) above sea level, is the highest golf course in the world. It started as a 6 hole golf course in 1890. Over the years the course has seen several extensions and modifications and presently houses a 18 hole golf course. The golf club is housed in a beautiful cottage styled wooden building.
5. Maharani Temple : The Siva temple is located atop a small hillock and is visible from all over Gulmarg. The temple dates back to 1915 and was built by Mohini Bai Sisodhia, wife of the last king of Kashmir Hari Singh. Since built by the queen it is known as the Maharani Temple.
6. St. Mary’s Church : The St Mary’s Church is located in the valley of Shepherds in Gulmarg. The church dates back to 1902. The brick built structure is topped with a green metalic thached roof. The interiors are complete with wood panels and a beautiful stained glass window.
Jammu And Kashmir
You can go through various transport like;
Flights operate to Jammu and Srinagar. Try Indian Airlines, SpiceJet and Indigo
The last stop on the railway line north is Udhampur, where you can catch onward buses and hire SUVs/MUVs (Tata Sumo / Toyota Innova/ Mahindra Scorpio). However it is better to get down in Jammu and catch a taxi from there as these are more readily available.
The Kashmir Railway is a railway line being built in India to connect the state of Jammu and Kashmir with the rest of the country. The project, officially coded USBRL (Udhampur Srinagar Baramulla Railway Link), starts from the city of Udhampur, 55 kilometres (34 mi) north of Jammu, and travels for 290 kilometres (180 mi) to the city of Baramulla on the northwestern edge of the Kashmir Valley. The route crosses major earthquake zones, and is subjected to extreme temperatures of cold and heat, as well as inhospitable terrain, making it an extremely challenging engineering project.
There are two ways to get in by land – via Jammu and up to Srinagar.
British India’s princely state of Jammu and Kashmir is now temporally divided between the Republic of India and Pakistan and China. The Government of India claims the entire area of the former state, whereas Pakistan regards the same area as “territory in dispute” awaiting a plebiscite. While some Kashmiris hope for an independent and unified Kashmiristan, the majority seem to simply want peace and to restore pre-1947 boundaries. It is a mountainous region of great beauty and diversity offering much in the way of outdoor activities and sights for the tourists. The unrest had pretty much completely shut down what was once a thriving tourist industry in Kashmir, and it’s now only starting to make a slow comeback. As a rule of thumb, the western area remains unsafe. Today, Indian-administered Kashmir is a Union Territory of India, although the Lakshadweep Islands as an administrative division entirely within India has a Muslim-majority status. It has an area of 39,179 mi² (101,473.1 km²).
The inhabitants of J&K belong to three religions, with Kashmir being mainly Muslim, Jammu being mainly Hindu and the Ladakhis divided almost equally between Buddhists and Muslims.
Places To Visits There;
- Gulmarg: – Gulmarg is well known for its amazing natural beauty and it is counted as one of the unique tourist destinations in the world. Gulmarg is surrounded by dense forest. This place is famous for its golf hikes and beautiful highland golf course. It is also a ski resort holding the world’s highest gondola. You can see the LOC (line of control) border of India and Pakistan. You can ski from a height of 4050 m.
- Sonamarg: – The way to reach Sonamarg or the Meadow of the gold is from the Sindh valley. This valley also shows more amazing facet in Kashmir. Sonamarg is located at an altitude of around 2730 meters from the sea level; it has snowy mountains as its backdrop against the sky.
- Raghunath Temple: – Raghunath Temple is dedicated to the Hindu Lord Shri Rama. All the inner walls of this temple are covered with gold, on three sides. Galleries of this temples are covered with ‘ Saligrams’. The other surrounding temples are related to other gods from the Ramayana. This temple is located in the centre or we can say in the heart of Jammu.
- Bahu Fort: – Bahu fort was modified and improved by the Dogra Rulers of jammu but it was first built by the Raja Bahulochan. This fort is located at a distance of around 5 km from the main city and is perhaps the oldest edifice in Jammu. This fort is facing the Tawi River. There is a temple of the goddess Kali in the fort.
- Mubarak Mandi Palace: – Mubarak Palace was built with the touch of three different styles, Rajasthani, Mughal, and Gothic. The most famous part of this Palace is the Sheesh Mahal segment. There is a Dogra Art Museum, which is a treasure house of miniature paintings from various hill schools.
- Peer Baba: This is of the holy places for Muslim saints. Here, people from all the religions comes in large number to pray on Thursday.
- Sri Amarnath Ji: Holy Amarnath Cave ( Temple) is situated 144 km east to Srinagar. Lord Amarnath is in the form of an ice Silva-lingam. On the full moon day, the lingam is approx 6 ft high.
- Mata Vaishno Devi : A pilgrimage to the Holy Shrine of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Ji is considered to be one of the holiest pilgrimages of our times. Popular the world over as Moonh Maangi Muradein Poori Karne Wali Mata, which means, the Mother who fulfills whatever Her children wish for, Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Ji resides in a Holy Cave located in the folds of the three-peaked mountain named Trikuta (pronounced as Trikoot). The Holy Cave attracts millions of devotees every year. In fact, the number of Yatris visiting the Holy Shrine annually now exceeds one crore. This is due to the unflinching faith of the devotees who throng the Shrine from all parts of India and abroad. The Holy Cave of the Mother is situated at an altitude of 5200 ft. The Yatris have to undertake a trek of nearly 12 km from the base camp at Katra. At the culmination of their pilgrimage, the yatries are blessed with the Darshans of the Mother Goddess inside the Sanctum Sanctorum- the holy cave. These Darshans are in the shape of three natural rock formations called the Pindies. There are no statues or idols inside the cave.