Gulmarg, “the flower meadow”, is a Himalayan health resort 50km from Srinagar. Nestling at 8690ft above sea level in a valley of the Pir Panjal range, it is noted for its splendid landscapes and, in winter, for its ski slopes.
Gulmarg is located 50 km from Srinagar, the summer capital of Kashmir; its pure air and its bewitching mountain relief have made it famous for a long time. Already in the 16th century, Sultan Yusuf Shah Chak, the last independent Muslim ruler of the Kashmir valley, came to stay there with his queen Habba khatoun. It was he who renamed the station, from “Gauri Marg” (the path of Devi Gauri) to “Gulmarg”, the flower meadow.
Akbar, the great Mughal emperor, who annexed Kashmir in 1589 CE, also appropriated the undulating landscapes of the station by creating flower gardens there.
Under the British Raj in the 19th century, the flower meadow was used by English officials as a refuge to escape the scorching summers of the plains of northern India. They brought with them of their favorite pastimes, golf. The only remaining golf course from this period stands at an altitude of 2,650 meters; it is the highest in the world.
The ski resort established in 1927 by the British is still in place and, with the addition of gondolas in 2005, Gulmarg has become one of the highest ski resorts in the world (4,200m) after China (4,843m) offering skiers a descent of more than 5 km in the Apharwat Mountains.
The skiing season usually starts in mid-December, just before Christmas, and continues until early April.
With its pleasant summer temperatures of 25-30°C, Gulmarg is a busy resort all year round. In summer people come to play golf, fish or head into the hills on foot, VTT or horseback.