Gulmarg in Winter - The Meadows of White

Discussion in 'Travelogues' started by Vargis Khan, Feb 2, 2019.

  1. Vargis Khan

    Vargis Khan Administrator Staff Member

    Gulmarg Winter Youth Festival

    We just walked around in Gulmarg for next 4 hours. We went all the way till Strawberry valley and then returned to the Golf Course; which now was actually the Ski ground. It was a sunny day and the entire town was filled with people enjoying Skiing and other winter activities.


    We found out that there was in fact a Winter Youth Festival going on that day. It was a mix of sports and cultural programs by both the local Kashmiri people and Indian Army.




    A Zorbing Ball. I was so eager to try this one out; but then decided not to when they told me that it was going to cost me Rs. 3000 for rolling down the hill for 5 mins.



    We both went for a snow scooter ride instead; and then half an hour of skiing which cost us Rs. 700 per person for half an hour each.



    We then paid a visit at the Saint Mary's Church.

  2. Vargis Khan

    Vargis Khan Administrator Staff Member

    We then just circled back to Sohail's restaurant while visiting Maharani Temple on the way. It was already 3 PM by then but surprisingly neither of us was hungry; thanks to the heavy late breakfast we had at the hotel. We had a cup of tea and then just returned to the hotel.



    There were a lot of senior Army Officers and other officials attending the youth festival; due to which the security too was increased. Two Army helicopters continued to circle over the town all day long.

  3. Vargis Khan

    Vargis Khan Administrator Staff Member

    End of Day 2

    And that was pretty much the end of our second day in Gulmarg. Not much happened after this. It was 4 PM by the time we reached the hotel. We were both dead tired by a 5 hours long walk covering the entire Gulmarg; so just relaxed in the hotel for rest of the evening. At around 8 PM, we stepped out to go to Sohail's restaurant to have dinner and a surprise awaited us. It had started to snow lightly as soon as the sun went down.


    I was actually hoping to catch a live snowfall and indeed was very happy to see it happening. We had some Kashmiri non-veg for dinner and returned to the hotel. A couple of hours of TV later, we were both happily buried under our blankets sleeping.
  4. Vargis Khan

    Vargis Khan Administrator Staff Member

    Day 3 - Snowfall in Gulmarg

    It continued to snow all night long and the temperature dropped drastically. I woke up a few times in between and could hear the high speed winds outside. To some extent, it was even a little bit scary. There were three heaters in the room switched on all night; and even then, we had to cover ourselves with three blankets. There was one large heater installed in a corner of the room. Second one was a small blower kind of deal that threw hot air when plugged into the socket. Third and the most helpful one was installed in the bed itself. That's correct, you read it right. This heater would warm up the mattresses and probably was the most helpful one of the three.

    After a cold but comfortable night, I was again the first one to wake up in the morning. Once again, the same routine followed like yesterday. I called the hotel kitchen and they told me there won't be anything available until 8 AM. So I packed and wrapped myself well and stepped out of the hotel to have a cup of tea at Sohail's restaurant.





    It was still snowing out there and this was morning was an even colder one than yesterday. Everything was covered under a fresh sheet of snow and at some places, I had to navigate my way through knee deep snow. Treading carefully, I finally reached Sohail's restaurant to find him clearing snow from almost everything.

  5. Vargis Khan

    Vargis Khan Administrator Staff Member

    Gulmarg Gondola in January

    I had a cup of tea and sat in the restaurant for a while chatting with Sohail. My plan for today was to go for a Gondola ride; but seeing how the weather turned overnight, I wasn't sure if the Gondola was even going to remain operational today. I asked Sohail and he advised me against going for the ride. Not because it was dangerous or anything but would be a waste of money in his opinion; and he had a good logic to it.

    The weather was really bad and it was foggy all around. Riding the Gondola in this weather would have meant to just sit in a glass cabin and go up and down for Rs. 1600 per person; without being able to see anything. Second logic that Sohail gave was that we were just going to find snow up there; which was down in Gulmarg as well in plenty. If we went for the Gondola ride, then we would just ride up to the station and come back down. We surely won't be able to step out and explore because everything was under several feet of snow. There was no way of knowing where I may step which made it a bit dangerous as well.

    So I agreed with Sohail and gave up the idea of Gondola ride; which made me wonder what we were going to do all day today in this weather.
  6. Vargis Khan

    Vargis Khan Administrator Staff Member

    Hotel Royal Park

    The biggest mistake I made was that I did not notify anyone in Hotel Affarwat that we were going to extend our stay by a day. After chatting with Sohail, I came back to our hotel and woke up my cousin. The manager at the reception casually asked me where I was headed today and I told him nowhere. To this he replied that they were under the assumption that I would check out today and had taken other bookings; which meant that I would have to check out of Hotel Affarwat.

    This kind of disappointed me a lot and I asked the manager to manage my stay somehow. They were however completely occupied for the day and could not accommodate me. He however did not let this become a trouble for me and asked me to shift to another hotel nearby by the name of Hotel Royal Park. But before I did that, I stepped out myself and checked out a few other hotels myself. Mountain View, Gulmarg Inn and Welcome Hotel were the three I checked at but did not like either of them. Finally I went and checked the rooms at Royal Park and it looked good enough.
  7. Vargis Khan

    Vargis Khan Administrator Staff Member

    Change of Hotels

    The manager at Hotel Affarwat made a call to the manager at Royal Park; and I got the room for the same price that I would have paid at Affarwat. He also had a couple of his men bring our luggage so all that we had to do was walk a few hundred meters and go into another room. I really liked this about the guys at Hotel Affarwat. Even though they could not extend my stay, they still got me another good hotel at the same price; shifted my luggage and ensured that the move was of minimal hassle to me.

    Hotel Royal Park was just 5 mins of walk away. What I liked about this hotel however was that it was at a slightly greater height and provided a better view of Gulmarg town.


  8. Vargis Khan

    Vargis Khan Administrator Staff Member

    Walking Around in Gulmarg

    It continued to snow until noon and the intensity increased even more. Visibility too was quite low and there wasn't much we could but to sit at our hotel and enjoy the view.


    Thankfully, the snowfall stopped at around noon. The sun was still playing hide and seek but the visibility improved tremendously. Bored of sitting at the hotel, we too came out for a walk.




    A few puppies playing around in snow. These little guys made me wonder how they could survive this kind of weather. They even slept in the snow itself.


    We roamed around for a couple of hours and had lunch at Sohail's restaurant. Weather continued to remain dicey and then once again turned bad. It started to snow and visibility reduced to like below.

  9. Vargis Khan

    Vargis Khan Administrator Staff Member

    All the walking around in the snow took a toll on my cousin's shoes. I was wearing Provogue Boots and they served the purpose well. My cousin on the other hand was wearing normal Puma Sports shoes which did not last even 2 days there. Our original plan was to rent boots in Gulmarg but seeing that our shoes were doing fine until now, we chose to forget about renting boots. But on the third day, my cousin's shoes could not take the snow and wet anymore and soles of both the shoes came off.

    It was just the sole that came off but rest of the shoe was fine. There was no shoe repair guy available in entire Gulmarg so we just had one choice. Buy a glue like Feviquick and make it work for next two days. We asked around at a few shops. Feviquick wasn't available anywhere but we did find a similar glue called Elfy.

    We returned to our hotel and first task was to glue the soles of my cousin's shoes back. Fortunately, it worked and we did manage to put the soles back in place. Once that done, we spent rest of the day mostly watching TV. It stopped snowing towards late afternoon again and we decided to build ourselves an ugly and scary snowman.

  10. Vargis Khan

    Vargis Khan Administrator Staff Member

    End of Day 3

    And that pretty much all that happened on this particular day. We had dinner at the hotel itself, watched TV and went to sleep. By evening, it was snowing again and kept getting more intense by each passing hour. Tomorrow, we were going to check out of Royal Park and reach Srinagar by noon. My preferred hotel in Srinagar is always Grand Valley Inn and that is where we were going to stay this time as well. I called the owner to let him know that I will be arriving in Srinagar tomorrow. He on the turn told me that the hotel was closed due to renovation work but agreed to open one room for our stay.

    With that arrangement done, we both went back to sleep. This was our last night in Gulmarg which kind of made me a little sad really. Even though we did not do much today and stayed indoors for most part of the day, I really hoped that we could stay for one more day and enjoy the snowy views. Little did I know that my wish was going to come true the next day.

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