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A huge cup-shaped meadow, lush and green, with slopes where the silence is broken only by the tinkle of cow-bells, Gulmarg looks like a fantasy set in a film, and not surprisingly, has been the venue of several films. All around are snow capped mountains, and on a clear day you can see all the way to Nanga Parbat in one direction and Srinagar in another.


From Gulmarg, a pony track leads upwards to Khilanmarg, Kongdori and Seven Springs, a couple of hours by pony, longer on foot. From here, across the Apharwat - the peak which looms up from this point - is Alpather Lake, a picturesque alpine lake, frozen till late June. For horse riding afficionadoes, Alpather lake makes an exciting day's excursion, starting early morning and returning late evening.

Slightly lower than Gulmarg is the shrine of Baba Reshi, a Muslim mystic saint, whose shrine is visited by people of all faiths.

Gulmarg also has one of the world's highest green golf courses, as well as a club house which is a historical building in its own right. For the would-be golfer, there are golf sets on hire, pros to instruct one in the game, and temporary memberships, including one-day memberships. Naturally, these facilities are available to players as Well, except that serious golfers usually carry their sets along.

For a fun-filled ride of a most unusual kind, Gulmarg's newly constructed gondola lift from high above Gulmarg, through pine-clad slopes, is exhilarating.

In winter, Gulmarg acquires a new persona - that of the country's premier skiing resort. Skiing, to many who watch it on TV, seems like a very elitist sport, requiring a high level of training and expensive equipment. They are surprised, when they visit Gulmarg for a day's expedition to "see the snow", that others with the same level of physical fitness and training are skiing down slopes.

Gulmarg is the ultimate beginner's skiing resort. You don't need the kind of wardrobe you see on TV-slacks or a salwar kameez will do fine. You don't even need heavy woolens, as in Gulmarg you'll be able to hire snowboots, mufflers, woollen socks, windproof jackets and caps. You'll also be able to drift to one of the many ski shops and hire skis, sticks and goggles, find yourself a ski instructor and set off down a slope, cheered lustily by your family while the ski instructor takes a picture of you with your camera!

Neither do you need to exert your- self climbing up slopes: the most gentle slope of 200 metres is linked with a ski lift which helps you to go up. When you graduate to intermediate level - which will happen after the first few days of practice, there are other slopes, longer and steeper, which are connected by chair lift. The longest ski run in Gulmarg is provided by the Gondola Cable Car which allows a ski run of 2,213 metres.


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