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Jammu and Kashmir: Gulmarg, Khilanmarg
Gulmarg is situated 46 kms off Srinagar, at a height of 2730 mts. The way to Gulmarg is possibly the best looking road of this universe, with the poplar trees giving guard of honor all the way and the road pierces through paddy and corn fields. The bus road ends at Gulmarg. If you are making it in the winters, then buses will ply up to Tangmarg only, owing to heavy snowfall in the upper regions. There is a tourist bungalow at Tanmarg as well.
The hotels of Gulmarg are not up to the mark, and the standard and service does not go with their charges as well. The higher you go up the slope, the more the hotel rates. Service of hotels remains as poor as ever. It is better to come back the same day to Srinagar. Even eateries will charge you high compared to the standard of food. There is a dearth of good eateries too. Carry packed food and water from Srinagar.
Gulmarg was actually known as Gourimarg, named after Goddess Parvati, wife of Shiva. It was changed to Gulmarg by Sultan Yusuf Shah in 1581. Gul means flowers in Parsi. True to its name, the whole of Gulmarg is covered with flowers in the summers and in Spring. The highest eighteen hole golf course is also in Gulmarg, and golf championships are common in the summers. Tourists can also try their hand paying a small fee. One can also undergo ski training programs here. In February, the national winter sports are also held around the playground.
Gulmarg is a quite hamlet, covered in pine and Deodar trees. The scenic beauty is superb. It receives snowfall from November to March. Mid May to Mid October is the ideal tourist season. It is a must visit place if you go to Kashmir.
Khilanmarg is the country of snow. Once you reach Khilanmarg, you can see snow everywhere. Snow covered peaks of Nanga Parvat, Harimukh, GouriShankar, Trishul are all clearly visible from here. Even Jhelum, Dal Lake, Wular lake and Shakarachariya temple is also visible from here. You will feel at top of the world. Need less to say, with all probabilities, you would also be standing on snow. Just spending some quiet time at Khilenmarg will take away your entire journey lag, and will refresh your soul.
Khilanmarg is about 6kms from Gulmarg and can be reached on foot. You can also hire ponies for the same. But the best way is to take the ropeway or Gondola. Rope way will also give you wonderful views for the shutter happy.
To visit Alpather lake, you will need to stay for a night at Gulmarg. It is about 13 kms from Gulmarg. Traversing this path will require good mental and physical strength. Alpather lake is situated at a height of 3843 mts. Nature is at it unspoilt best at this place. Alpather is a natural lake, triangular in shape. The waters of this lake appears emerald green. The waters are frequented by floating chunks of ice of all shapes and size. Alpather can also be reached from Khilenmarg and the distance is about 8 km from khilenmarg.
Ningel Nala: Walk for 8 kms in the shade of Pine forests and you will reach Ningel Nala, a stream that is formed by the melting snow of Alpather and Afarwat (or Affarwat) mountains. This stream meets Jhelum at Sopore, a hot seat of terrorist activities. Cross the stream using the bridge and you will reach Lien marg after 5 kms, a field enveloped with fresh, live, shinning grass.
Firozpur Nala: This can also be reached from Gulmarg. If you want to go to Conternag, then you will have to go through Firozpur nala, which is actually a mountain stream. There is a beautiful natural lake at Konternag. You can take ponies at this route from Gulmarg.
Other places that can be reached from Gulmarg:
Tosh maidan or Tosha Maidan: Provides excellent views of the nature of Kashmir.
Baba Reshi: Is famous for the grave (ziarat) of Fakir Baba Pamdin.
Huge Snow Everywhere Huge Snow Everywhere