A History of Natural Beauty and Winter Sports

Gulmarg Ski Guides

Gulmarg, the meadow of flowers, is a stunning destination located in a cup-shaped valley in the Pir Panjal Range of the Himalayas. It is situated 56 km from Srinagar at an altitude of 2,650 m (Village altitude). In spring and summer, the meadows are covered with wildflowers like daisies, forget-me-nots, and buttercups. Enclosed parks and small lakes are interspersed between the meadows, while green pine and fir forests surround them.

Skiing and other winter sports in Gulmarg are popular and are carried out on the slopes of Apharwat peak at a height of 4,267 m (13,999 ft). In the past, Gulmarg was used as a retreat by British civil servants (started in 1927 by 2 British Army Officers ) to escape the summer heat in North Indian plains. Hunting and golfing were their favorite pastime, and they established three golf courses, one exclusively for women. The world's highest golf course, which is still in existence, is at an altitude of 2,650 meters (8,690 ft) Gulmarg Golf Club was started in 1911 by the British.

The history of modern skiing in Gulmarg began after Indian independence when the Indian planners sought to develop a winter sports destination in India. In 1960, Rudolph Matt was invited by the Department of Tourism of the Government of India to select a suitable location for such a purpose, and he chose Gulmarg. The Institute of Skiing and Mountaineering was established in Gulmarg in 1968 to train ski instructors. Over the next decade, Indian planners invested ₹30 million (US$400,000) to transform Gulmarg into a world-class ski destination. Gulmarg became a centre for skiers from Asian nations.

In the mid-1980s, heli-skiing was introduced in Gulmarg in collaboration with the Swiss skier Sylvain Saudan of Himalaya Heli-Ski Club of France. However, the rise of militancy in Jammu and Kashmir in the 1990s affected tourism in Gulmarg. Tourism started to recover in the late 1990s with the abatement of terrorism in the area. Work on the cable car project between Gulmarg and Apharwat Peak, which was commissioned in 1988 by the Government of Jammu and Kashmir but was subsequently abandoned due to militancy in 1990, was resumed in 1998. In May 1998, Phase 1 of the project between Gulmarg and Kongdori began its commercial operation. Phase 2 of the project was also inaugurated in May 2005, making it one of the longest and highest ropeways in Asia. The chairlift installed as a part of Phase 3 of the project began its operations in 2011.