Skiing in the Himalayas
There is something magical about skiing in the Himalayas. In truth it does not match the great European or Rockies resorts, but there are no queues and the skiing is simple like it was 50 years ago in Europe. You got this far, clip on the skiis and schuss away.
Imagine skiing and shouting out ‘whoops’ to your pals just to let them know where you are! Yes, skiing in Gulmarg in Kashmir is a different experience altogether. No waiting lines or queues, no crowds or known turns and the Nanga Parbat (only the 9th tallest peak) in the backdrop!
Always on the threshold of political squabble with India, Pakistan and China the snow is crisp and the area remote. However, relative calm on the borders of late have opened up Gulmarg once again to ski enthusiasts. All travel warnings to the area still hold but the slopes are seeing an increase in visitors like never before.
The best part of skiing here is that the Apharwat Mountain is big and wide and has a ski lift at 8000 feet to take you up to the ridge high of 13000 feet. Remember that you are still in India only high above, away from hawkers, tourists and pesky vendors! Discover ‘state-of-the-art’ lift and gondola (singular) which have been a work in progress for more than six years that is keeping the casual visitor away from the area.
Visiting here immediately conjures up all the romance of a forbidden treat. Check out the Kashmir Alpine Ski Shop with some of the best ski gear in the world. The owner Yassin Khan and his son, Arif, who is now in the Indian Olympic skiing team provide all the news around here.
Gulmarg defies convention in terms of hospitality, however rumours of full-fledged ski resort are everywhere. There was even a Gulmarg Winter Festival in 2012 with promises of more entertainment in the future.
Try the more remote Auli in Uttarakhand, which has lesser skiing area but makes up with spectacular views at a height of 10000 feet for the more exotic skiing.
Stay at the Hotel Highlands Park, Pine Palace or J&K Tourism Department's three bedroom bungalow and kitchen while in Gulmarg.