“Wow, is this for real? Did we just enter the Narnia land? Hsshhhh…the trees may speak of us, The Ice Queen may come and the reindeers…” the questions were endless. Accompanied by our two children, we drove ‘up’ to this place yet unknown (to us).
It was our journey of so many ‘firsts’. First really REAL snowfall. We zigzagging along those serpentine like ice-laden roads. Skidding and slipping, making our way through those mini havocs caused by vehicles, plying chains to their wheels. And those huge white walls of snow on either sides of our beast. Boy! Did we just feel heroic being able to do all that in one go.
The (almost) edible creamy white meadows, the towering pines and the mystical quite. Welcome to Gulmarg, the winter wonderland.
“Bhaiya pony ride, sledging, skiing, snow-mobile, hotal stay, jackets/ sweaters/ boots on rent, chaye-coffee, khana, jo chahiye sab milega.” The first set of words you hear by not one but so many, echoing the same stuff to you. Interestingly, all these boys may look the same. Dressed in greyish ‘pherans’, wearing flashy glares, speaking good English (and more languages I reckon). Not bad to bargain if you are new to the place (mind the touts though). But we went ahead, for we were there to explore so much more.
Looked around, beyond and afar, those little hutments with creamy tops and twinkling lights; smoke from the chimneys and that tasty smell of char.
*Thudd* Ouch! Wandering and dreaming I get hit by a snowball and before I could retort I slipped (not at all a mighty fall).
TIP: Make sure you are dressed up adequately or you can always ‘rent’ out the attire. Saves you trouble and new-place sickness. Better still, come prepared for weather conditions.
Running around the place, skiing and snow-mobiling, we now obviously craved for more (greedy, unsatisfied breed of humans). “Can we fly and see this place from high above, perhaps from the sky?” Pat comes the reply, Why not?
We were given the options between hovering over the place, Hollywood style, in a rather slick Chopper ride or fly away to the top-most peak in the region via cable car. We chose the latter.
The mighty Gondola, a huge chain of cable cars (fits 4 pax each), takes you high above that enticing pearly white lands and you reach the first station, Khilanmarg. But then again (human nature), we opted to go further and took the next cable car to Aparwhat, also the highest and last station of the ride. The giant pines were now so tiny, we were now almost shoulder high to all the peaks around. The whole of Gulmarg looked like a scrumptious creamy delight with those small exotic toppings (oh yes, you do tend to get hungrier than usual).
TIP: Do carry loads of chocolate and fluids when going that high, you need loads of them. Yeah about the calories, you will be burning them all the while prancing up and around these mountains.
And then we had to descend, sigh!
Such was our journey to this heavenly place. Gulmarg is all about dreamlike journeys and sublime experiences during winters. All so surreal!