I left Srinagar with a lot of pain and at the same time excited to see GULMARG and the snow peaked mountains.Driving to Gulmarg again was a breath taking experince, with beautiful scenery, and on the way the driver stops me near a samll village called tangmarg.with Apple trees around every house, small streams flowing around.
We get going to Gulmarg and to my surpise it takes us around 25 mins drive from Tangmarg toll to reach Gulmarg.You will see a lot of kashmiri guys on the toll gate asking if you need a guide for your trip and for tourist who are less patient this may turn into a nightmare.But guys its their living ,so please bare with them .Just say a no and ask your driver to move on. Many stop to see the view point( half way to gulmarg ).but its not really worth to stop by so move on untill you get to Gulmarg.
I had got all my hotel bookings done with the J&K Tourism huts and so was in Gulmarg. As usual they were amazing.The picture you see below is the one I lived in.
Gulmarg is Originally called ‘Gaurimarg’ by shepherds, its present name was given in the 16th century by Sultan Yusuf Shah, who was inspired by the sight of its grassy slopes emblazoned with wild flowers. Gulmarg was a favourite haunt of Emperor Jehangir who once collected 21 different varieties of flowers from here. Today Gulmarg is not merely a mountain resort of exceptional beauty- it also has the highest green golf course in the world, at an altitude of 2,650 m, and is the country's premier ski resort in the winter.Gulmarg, known more as a winter destination for skiers is nestled in the Himalayas at a height of around 9000 feet.
Happent to take a mountain pony ride around Gulmarg ,a circular road, 11-km in length, runs right round Gulmarg through pleasant pine forests with excellent views over the Kashmir valley. Nanga Parbat is clearly visible 137-km to the north, Haramukh 60-km to the east while to the south one can see the Ferozpore and Sunset Peaks and the Apharwat Ridge. Nanga Parbat, the 'lord of the mountains', is the fourth highest peak on earth at 8,500 metres.
After a hectic day had to go shopping for groceires and some meat , At the chicken shop I happen to make some friends with kashmiri men who were very very very flirty and then they carrry all my stuff to my hut and a lot of talking and finaly they get me convinced that they would be my guide at the gondola ride next day morning. and I had to agree, could not say no to them.
As usual I charm everyone and they end up cutting onions for me for chicken while i make some rice and stuff, but they dint stay back for dinner as the local guides were not allowed at the J&K huts for a longer time .
Next day I wake up with so much bliss and happines ,peeping from my window ,looking at the Alps and the temprature was already -1 degree. I go crazy and just walk out of the hut bare foot in my PJ's...ahhhhhhhhhhhh and I wonder " WHAT A WONDERFUL LIFE" just the moments I will cherish the rest of my life. After my breakfast I was all set ,waiting my the guys to arrive.
Arriving at the gondola and seeing the huge crowd I thought to myself that it was a good decsion to get the guy as my guide or I would have ended up waiting untill dawn..lol
Gulmarg is famous for its Gulmarg Gondola, one of the highest cable cars in the world.
The gondola is like a ski lift that takes you to different levels – one at a height of 8500 feet to Koongdoori station and the other to the summit of the Apharwat located at 13700 feet. Its also called as phase 1 and phase 2. Most tourist prefer not going to phase 2.The gondola ride treats you to some eye popping breathless views as the snow and the mist veils and unveils in front of you, even as it rains and snows.Gulmarg is of pristine beauty with lush meadows, golf courses, glaciers and slopes of snow topping the conifers that dot the hills.It’s a virtual paradise for skiiers and adventure enthusiasts, but for the regular tourists, you can try your hand at skiing and can roll down the slopes on sledges. I climbed, I skied, I rolled and I fell on the ice.
This snow covered mountain lies close to the Line of Control (LOC) with Pakistan. The height of Apharwat peak is about 14000 ft from the sea level. Tourist can reach here with the help of gondola cable car. There is LOC point which is guarded by Indian army round the clock. Special permission is required from Gulmarg army base office to visit this place. There is frozen lake about 2 km from this place. Back to pahse one and hungry to eat and some bad food experince again with Kashmiri pulao..not again I ever wanna try it.
Back to Gulmarg from the awsome gondola ride ,had a lot lined up.Next on my list was the the BABA RESHI SHRINE.
The Shrine of Baba Reshi is located in the centre of Gulmarg, surrounded by the lush green landscape that includes huge conifers and poplars. The shrine is situated at a height of 2,133 meters on the slopes of the mountains between Gulmarg and Tangmarg, and captures the attention of locals and foreigners alike every year. The Shrine or Ziarat of Baba Reshi is a mosque dedicated to the memory of the saint and scholar who was a courtier in the court of King of Kashmir Zain-ul-Abidin, the ruler of the province in the 15th century. The saint gave up all of his materialistic needs and possessions to give Muslim teachings to his devotees and the people of the state. He also promoted meditation as a means of being closer to God along with his other teachings all throughout his life until his death in 1480. Baba Reshi Shrine is placed at the centre of a huge green lawn and can accommodate over a thousand devotees. The architecture of the shrine is very beautiful and is a mixture of the Persian and the Mughal School of architecture. The Shrine of Baba Reshi is a three storied monument with multiple gateways providing entry into the monument. The shrine has a unique roof spire rising out of the roof top. The tomb of the saint is placed at the centre of the shrine and has stunning wooden embroidery around it. The place is well known for making wishes as it is believed that the shrine helps in granting the boons to its devotees. Devotees that get their wishes granted, revisit this shrine, to make grateful offering in honour to the great saint. It is believed that Baba Reshi famously built a 'daan', a fire place at this place where people come to offer sacrifices with the belief that their wishes would be granted.
I too did go pray and take some blessing,does not really matter what language you pray in untill you have clean intentions.
After my visit at the shrine i head to tangmarg to see the sharanz waterfalls ,this water flows directly to pakistan.The Sharanz waterfall on 'Ningli' stream near Baba Reshi Shrine is craving for government attention. The famous waterfall has the potential of producing Hydroelectricity and can turn into famous tourist destination if government could wake up for development.
My trip to kashmir valley just kept getting better and more better as days passed by and I wanted more of it.my kashmiri guys exchanged numbers and invited me to their house for lunch but I guess I was too shy to just go for lunch or dinner to their village in Tangmarg. Next day I had to say good bye to Gulmarg and head to PAHALGAM.
Next day early morning i see all my guys waiting for me outside to bid good bye. I was heart touched with the kashmiri hospitality and the way the men trated me so well. Its simple " you give respect and you take it back" thats what happen to me. I was never scared of kashmiri men nor I ill treated them , they just became my buddies like another I have in the big city.The mountain guys are more stronger than the city guys are.No technology No bikes ,they take the tourist along with their ponny and walk miles and miles up and down the hills. OH MY KASHMIR HOW MUCH I MISS YOU.