Some 56km west of Srinagar and at an elevation of around 2700m, GULMARG, whose name means “flower meadow”, is a pleasant escape from the city but is rather more geared towards domestic tourists and can get very crowded. It is also rather spread out, with no discernible centre. The meadow itself is 1km wide and more than 3km long, allowing ample room for picnics, pony rides and even one of the world’s highest golf courses. The surrounding pine slopes can be ascended for a distant view of Nanga Parbat (8126m)to the north, in Pakistan-controlled Baltistan. Less active visitors can ascend one of these slopes on a gondola for the princely sum of Rs300 for the first stage and Rs500 for the second. In winter, the gondola is used to get to the top of Gulmarg’s skiing slopes, which are underused but highly recommended for the quality of powdery snow. Government rates for skiing, displayed on boards around the resort, are Rs250 per hour, while equipment rental is Rs1000 per day. Two private operations that can arrange packages and lessons are Kashmir Alpine, which purports to be the world’s smallest ski shop and also runs trekking expeditions during the warmer months, and the British-run Mountain Tracks. Other activities include pony riding and zorbing.
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