For winter sports enthusiasts, if there is one place living up to their expectations, it is Gulmarg! Gulmarg is home to the Apharwat peak, the longest ski slope in Asia. This is where adventurers are always ready to get set and ski! And Apharwat mountain is the starting point for all the skiing fun. The Meadow of Flowers, as Gulmarg is lovingly known, turns into a vast sheet of snowy slopes during winters. The endless slopes attract and invite skiers of all grades to slope down from the best snow point in Kashmir Valley.
The thrill of this sport lies in skiing from the top of Apharwat peak. The snow point, which is only accessible by taking a Gondola ride, offers the longest and highest skiable terrain. As Asia’s second-highest cable car ride, Gulmarg resting in the Greater Himalayas is a rewarding destination. The town lies 51 km from Srinagar, taking an hour and a half to reach here. From there awaits a thread of exciting activities to get your hands on, such as skiing, ice-skating, heli-skiing, mountain biking, snowboarding and more.
Ski down the winning slopes from the most enchanting snow point – Apharwat peak. Before skiing in Gulmarg, you can practise on the bunny slopes. Skiers and snowboarders with basic or intermediate skills can ski the slopes just after taking the Phase-1 ride of the Gondola. The reach of Apharwat mountain is accessible only during Phase 2 of the Gondola ride. Phase 3 of the Gondola ride introduces you to the chairlift. And for every ride to these phases, prices vary.
How to Reach
To reach Apharwat peak, you have to take a Gondola ride. The Gulmarg gondola is a must to hop on for anyone visiting the Apharwat summit. The ride takes you up to an elevation of 4,265 feet, which is an incredible experience.
The majestic Apharwat peak has the most enchanting snow point. Phase 1 of the Gondola ride connects Gulmarg to Kungdoor mountain. It is mainly suited for skiers with intermediate-level expertise to ski and make their way back to the village. The second phase of the Gondola ride connects Kungdoor to Apharwat peak. An open cable car ride allows you to ski down the slopes or even let you heli-ski. Sunrise and Sunset Peaks are the best for offering off-piste terrain and heli-ski. Only intermediate and expert skiers and snowboarders should attempt to ski or snowboard in the upper reaches of Apharwat.
What to Rent or Carry?
Depending upon the difficulty level you are going for, keep safety gear such as snow helmets, headlamps, GPS watches, skis, snowboards, poles, etc. For unforeseen events, be prepared in advance by carrying a first-aid kit. A well-stocked first-aid kit should have the supplies you need to clean and dress wounds dealing with minor burns, cuts and splint breaks. It should also have supplies to help you manage common discomforts such as headaches, allergies, and upset stomachs. There are shops in Gulmarg where you can buy or take them for rent, such as emergency blankets, clothes and stuff. You can rent the equipment, including a pair of skis, poles and boots, at Rs. 800/day.
The Best Time to Go
The ski season lasts briefly in Gulmarg, mainly from mid-January to the end of February. During this time, it receives heavy snowfall. However, the season varies due to climate change and weather conditions, sometimes starting at the end of December to last till March.
Things to Know
1. The bunny slope offering the most effortless ski runs starts from Apharwat mountain, around 7.5 m in length. Then comes the slopes for intermediaries, which are 16.5 km long. The most difficult one stretches to 6 km and is mostly attempted by expert-level skiers and snowboarders.
2. It is always advisable to be with an instructor, even if you are an expert. Phase I and Phase II of Apharwat mountain are avalanche-prone areas. Thus, you will see the area being patrolled by authorities there.
3. The ski pass can cost you around Rs. 740 to Rs. 950 daily. Reaching the upper highs of Apharwat peak may cost you around Rs. 1250 per day.
4. To get on Gondola and ride to the top of Apharwat peak, timings are from 10 am to 4 pm in winter. Otherwise, regular timings are from 10:30 am to 6:30 pm.
5. Know that you need a ticket for every Phase, the prices for which are as follows:
Phase I: Rs. 740
Phase II: Rs. 950
Phase III: Rs. 270