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Skiing & Winter Sports in Gulmarg
Some of the best slopes in the country for beginners and intermediate skiers are available at Gulmarg. Skiing equipment is available on hire from the Ski-Shop. In winter Gulmarg’s natural slopes and inclines turn into the country’s premier skiing resort. Not all tourists who visit in winter come for skiing – some simply are there to watch the skiing or to enjoy a holiday in the snow. Many of these are infected with the excitement of the skiers, and have donned their first pair of skis within a short while of their arrival.
Among the multitudes of slopes, there are a few which are serviced by ski lifts. Most of the skiing becomes centFEB31E on these slopes, which are specially suited to beginners and intermediate level skiers, with ski runs ranging from 200 m to 3kms, instructors are available for both levels.
As in the summer, when each individual sets his own pace for a holiday, so also in winter, skiing can be as adventurous as the holidaymaker can want. There are a number of slopes, not serviced by ski lifts, of varying lengths and gradients.
Each of these is quieter than the immensely popular ones with skilifts. Advanced skiers often trek in the snow for several hours to the very top of Apharwat peak, to make a descent lasting no more than 30 minutes. And now, with the operation of the Gulmarg Gondola Cable Car, it has become all the more convenient for skiing enthusiasts, as they can gain a ski run of nearly 3 kms with the help of this cable car which goes up to Kongdori.
There are a host of snow sports at Gulmarg at this time of the year. Tobogganing, the most popular among them requires no skill. No skill is requiFEB31E – a flat wooden board is taken up the hill and is allowed to descend downhill. There are also snow scooters and snow bobbing, neither requiring special skills.
Gulmarg and Khilanmarg are the skiing hot spots in Kashmir, India. Skiing here usually begins around the beginning of December and goes on till the end of March. Gulmarg has earned the distinction of being the best ski resort in the Himalayas. This resort was established in the year 1927 by two British Army officers who set up the first skiing club in Gulamarg, Kashmir. Festivals like Christmas and Easter are occasions for organized skiing races. The first National Winter Games were held in Gulmarg in the year 1998. Gulmarg is situated at a distance of 56 kilometers from Srinagar. Gulmarg has the reputation of being the highest lift-served ski resort in India. Ski lifts and chair lifts take skiiers up to the top of the ski slopes from where skiiers can choose the beginnners, intermediate or more advanced slopes.
Gulmarg also offers heliskiing for winter sports lovers. It is Asia’s only heliskiing resort and in fact after Canada, Kashmir is the best option for those inclined towards heliskiing. Heliskiing comprises of being dropped by a helicopter on the summit of a high, snow-cove peak and then skiing down the slopes. Heliskiing in Kashmir can be a breathtaking experience. Heliskiing is the ultimate winter sports thrill for the adventure sports lover. This extreme winter sport has some element of risk but the thrill experienced while indulging in heliskiing is said to be unequalled by any other winter sport.
Other activities you can enjoy in Kashmir are ice-skating, ice-hockey and cross country skiing. Pahalgam and Srinagar in Kashmir are extremely popular sites for ice-skating. Ice skating and ice-hockey which involves playing hockey while wearing skates on an ice-rink or on the frozen surface of a lake, is a popular winter sport played by two teams who try to manoeuvre a smooth puck, (instead of the ball used in ordinary hockey) to score goals against the opposing team. A game of great swiftness and dexterity, ice hockey is a popular spectator sport among winter sports in Kashmir.
KashmirTRAVELS provides details on travel packages for winter sports to various places in Kashmir.
Trekking in Kashmir Valley
Trekking is a major part of Jammu-Kashmir’s adventure sports, but usually its Ladakh, that usually takes away the fame of being a trekker’s paradise. Tourists are aware of Kashmir as a tourist destination, but take a closer look and you’ll know what an important adventure centre this valley makes.
A trek that is popular among both the treks and the pilgrims is the Amarnath trek that takes one to the sacred cave of Lord Amarnath, one of the holiest naturally occuring shrines of Hindu faith. The stages of the yatra are carefully controlled by the Indian authorities. The first stage of the trek is to Chandanwadi, the second to Sheshnag and the third over the Mahagunas Pass to Panchtami. Many pilgrims visit the cave from Panchtami and return to Sheshnag the same day, walking back to Pahalgam on the fifth day.
Sonamarg is the starting point of a major trek passing several mountain lakes – Vishansar, Kishansar, Gadsar, Satsar and Gangabal. One trek leads all the way to the Amarnath Cave.
One of the most popular short walks from Sonamarg and a major attraction during the summer months is the 4-km route to Thajiwas, a small valley at the foot of the Sonamarg glacier. A path leads up to the Shakhdar hill, overlooking the glacier from the northeast. It is dangerous to climb the steep slope leading up to the glacier. Ponies can be hired for the trip up to Thajiwas glacier. Often in early summer one will meet groups of Gujar passing through Sonamarg on their way to the alpine meadows for the summer.
Trek From Sonamarg To The Valley Via Gangabal Lake:
A fine trek west of Sonamarg is to cross the Nichinai pass to Gangabal Lake. As always, you would do well to have a local to accompany you. To reach the trailhead, go 2 miles down valley from Sonamarg toward Srinagar to the bridge below the tightly clustered houses of Shitkari village, where the road crosses the Sind River. Across the river from this small village, begin walking on the true Right Bank to the lakes called Krishan Sar and Vishan Sar, and beyond to Gangabal Lake near Haramukh, the highest peak in the vicinity of the Kashmir valley.
The most popular trek originating from Sonamarg is the Kashmir Lake Trek. It covers the lakes of Gangabal, Vishansar, Kishansar, and close to the Harrnukh peak. The trail first crosses the Nichinai Pass (13 ,387 ft) and then enters the alpine valleys that eventually lead to the Gangabal Lake. Vishansar, Vishnu’s Lake, is just over 12,000 ft and slightly larger than the 12,500 ft Kishansar, Krishna’s Lake. Gangabal lake is the highlight of this trip. Protected by the three peaks of Mount Harrnukh, Gangabal is 5 miles in circumference and offers the finest trout fishing anywere in Kashmir.
The Harmukh Lake (also known as the Gangabal Lake) is located at the peak of the Harmukh mountain ranges. The camp site (Nundkhul) near the lake (located at a height of 3570m) has facilities for wood, water, and trout fishing (The local fisheries guard will help the trekker in identifying the best locations and on choosing the most effective ‘flies’). The pleasure of a camp fire in the evening in the mountain air is incredible, and so is sleeping in tents in such a location. The lake also serves as one of the sources of the Jhelum river.