Pine-fringed Gulmarg is the nearest India gets to a ski resort. It’s not so much a town as a twisting 4km-long loop of road ringing the undulating ‘Meadow of Flowers’ for which it’s named. The meadow is given some visual focus by the demure 1890s Anglican Church of St Mary’s sitting on a lonely hillock, accessed off the dead-end road linking historic Gulmarg Golf Club to the 1965 neo-colonial style Hotel Highlands Park. However, the main reason to come to Gulmarg is to venture up through the backing stands of mature pines towards the bald ridge of Mt Afarwat. This can be done on foot or with ponies (₹300 per hour) but is easiest using the two-stage gondola cable car that whisks you to 3747m for outstanding clear-day views, reputedly encompassing Nanga Parbat (the world’s ninth-highest mountain across in Pakistan). Booking online can save long queues in peak season (May and June), but service is cancelled in bad weather (or during civil unrest) and getting a refund can prove annoying. The gondola’s base-station is around 1km west of the bus stand.
Gulmarg offers over 40 accommodation choices. In July, musty, ageing rooms average ₹2000, newer ones over ₹5000 a night. Prices dip around 20% in winter and can fall massively during troubles in Srinagar and in less popular months (notably September). For skiers and hikers the most convenient accommodation is located on the rise just north of the gondola where you’ll find the following: