Kashmir travelogue 6: Gallivanting in the ice at Gulmarg

Read the previous parts of the travelogue here:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Our itinerary involved a two-day stay at Gulmarg, and we were quite thrilled about it. We had heard a lot about the cable cars (gondolas) that operate there, and were excitedly looking forward to ride on them. I was trying to imagine how Gulmarg would look like, as its name sounded so quaint and romantic, and we had heard that the place was full of wildflowers. A couple of hours’ drive from Pahalgam got us to Gulmarg, and I happily noted that it was even more beautiful than I had imagined.

Tall pine trees, firs and poplars greet you from amidst the snowy mountains as soon as you enter Gulmarg. The drive on narrow, winding roads in the midst of huge forests is scary, but the view outside the window is so mesmerising that you soon forget to be afraid.

I took this picture as soon as we entered Gulmarg. We later drove through a very narrow road in the midst of those two hills covered with trees that you can see in the picture.

Here is a close-up view of the hillocks, to give you an idea of just how densely populated with trees they were.

The fir-and-pine forests soon gave way to hillocks scattered with wildflowers.

There are, apparently, 21 different kinds of wildflowers exclusive to Gulmarg alone. I couldn’t help but marvel at the bounty of nature here – today, when you can get everything ‘man-made’, it is extremely refreshing to see clumps of these multi-hued flowers adorning the hillsides, on their own, untended, amidst all that cold.

Soon enough, we reached our resort. I took the next picture near our resort. Couldn’t resist it – the place looked like something out of a fairytale.

We spent the day relaxing at the resort, in preparation for the gondola ride the next day.

Bright and early the next morning, we rushed to the ticket counter to buy tickets for the cable cars, and found a HUGE line there. After witnessing a lot of tempers flaring, exchanges of hot words, much jostling and pleading, we finally managed to get two tickets for Phase I of the ride. And off we went!

The ride was as scary as it was exciting. We squealed in excitement at some of the views from high above. After all, when you are riding in the highest cable car in India, at a height of 13,400 metres, the views are bound to be spectacular. At other times, though, we kept our mouths tight shut, held hands, prayed, and didn’t dare look below.

In about 15 minutes, the cable cars reached the destination for Phase I.

This is where they deposited us. Ain’t the place extremely, extremely, extremely beautiful? OK, I am running out of adjectives now!

Here is a close-up of the hills that we saw at that point. They looked ethereal, with melting snow and clouds kissing them.

We hugged our jackets close around us, for it was beginning to get extremely cold, and stood in the queue for tickets for Phase 2 of the ride. We were lucky to get the tickets, as the counters are often closed due to inclement weather at the Phase 2 destination. However, the tickets were not obtained without hours of standing in queue, witnessing of more tempers flaring, more angry words being exchanged, more jostling and more pleading. That, however, is a story for another day. For now, let us focus on the journey.

We boarded the cable cars again, and it brought us to a river of frozen ice. We couldn’t see anything but ice for miles and miles and miles ahead. Look for yourself.

If you take one of the sledges that operate in plenty here, you can see the Line of Control (LoC) with Pakistan right at the end of ALL that ice.

We were too exhausted to do the sledge ride, so we just admired the beauty of the place, took a lot of pictures…. and tried pelting each other with snow balls, which we gave up immediately as the balls hurt like anything. It was frozen, hardened snow, after all.

A couple of hours of gallivanting in the ice later, we began our descent towards the base, happy and content.

Because of the height at which it is located, Gulmarg becomes almost inaccessible in the winter months. We felt extremely lucky that we had planned a trip in June, so that we were able to see this beauty.

Advertisements

29 thoughts on “Kashmir travelogue 6: Gallivanting in the ice at Gulmarg

  1. That is the most amazing set of pictures that I have seen lately. Simply breathtaking especially of the mountains. Looks like now I will have to start pestering hubby to take us there πŸ˜€

    Like

  2. Lovely! We didn’t go higher up the altitude by cable car. The weather was not conducive and the tour guide added a disclaimer to go at our own risk :-0 Since we had to be responsible girls, with me emotionally blackmailing my folks into letting me go to Kashmir in the first place and all that, we didn’t take a chance πŸ˜‰
    looks like we missed the icing on the already awesome cake..sigh!

    Like

    1. @Uma

      Thank you! πŸ™‚

      These days, they don’t issue tickets for Phase 2 if the weather is not conducive. You can go up using ponies, I guess, but that would be WAYYYYYY too risky. I would say, good that you didn’t go in bad weather.

      Like

  3. Wah TGND….the pictures are absolutely superb…you had fun eh…I loved the picture of the snow in the hand..(OH??)

    Have you ever been to Pavagadh? The Kali Temple near Halol..they have similar cable cars or something in those lines

    Like

    1. @R’s Mom

      Yes, we had loads of fun. And, yes, that’s the OH’s hand. πŸ™‚

      No re, never got a chance to go to Pavagadh. I know what you are thinking now – this girl stayed in Ahmedabad and never went to Pavagadh, and she went all the way to Kashmir? πŸ™‚ Life is like that!!

      Like

  4. Love the photos and the new look of your blog! The scenery is spectacular and I know this travel would be an adventure I must take part in, some day.

    Like

    1. @Suko

      Thank you, Suko! πŸ™‚

      Kashmir is a place that everyone must experience at least once in their lifetime. But then, on second thoughts, I believe that everyone must experience the whole world at least once in their lifetime. πŸ™‚

      Like

  5. TGND,

    I so want to go there. Right now, K and I are thinking of Punjab and a couple of other places (Ofcourse I will email you as soon as we decide it though it is only next year we can afford the annual leave). I love your photos TGND – I have already said that like a dozen times no?
    Ya, I would have been concerned about safety but I feel at rest after seeing your travelogues and after I read your comment πŸ™‚ and it is so beautiful that I am so so happy for you really ! And truly, June was an amazing time to plan, no?
    Mama mia ! Look at those snow balls ! πŸ™‚

    Like

    1. @Kismi

      Thank you so much! πŸ™‚

      Punjab and surrounding areas are places that we would love to cover to. Do let me know when you guys plan, OK? If possible, can we plan a trip together? We would love it. πŸ™‚

      Yes, it is quite safe to travel now in Kashmir. However, it is indeed a sensitive place, and it is always good to be careful.

      There was only ice at Gulmarg, no snow. 😦

      Like

      1. We would love that too πŸ™‚ infact we can club bond visit as well. I was telling K that I want to meet Bond during that trip. What you saying ? Can’t wait to tell K now :p

        Like

  6. Hey! I have been catching up on the series and am just LOVING the pictures. Hubby always wanted to go to Kashmir but I’ve been putting it off thinkings its unsafe. Now after seeing these photos Im being drawn to visiting this place.

    And pssttt- I refuse to show this to my husband right now πŸ™‚

    Like

    1. @LLT

      Hey there! Welcome to my space! πŸ™‚

      I am glad you are liking the series.

      We were initially worried about our safety too, but later learnt from people who have gone there that it is quite safe. We decided to take a chance and went there, and we definitely do not regret it. Moreover, we went at a time when the Amarnath Yatra was going on, and a shrine was gutted in Srinagar. In spite of that, we did not face any major issues and our stay was quite peaceful. If you want to, do visit the place. There’s nothing to worry – it is not like it is shown in the movies. πŸ™‚

      The residents there are also very happy with the peace that has returned to the state. It is not like before, they say. It is now safe to stay out even at 12 in the night, not that we were out at that time.

      That said, you never know when the state might become inaccessible, considering that it is a sensitive area. My suggestion to you is plan a trip if you really want to see the place.

      Like

  7. Beautiful! Simply beautiful!!
    You know when I see these lovely pics from your travelogue I become so desperate that I feel like planning a trip to Kashmir immediately. Sigh! Someday…

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s