Sky-kissing mountain peaks, breathtaking slopes, bewitching meadows and the flying capsule, Gondola, amidst the setting is fast emerging a major attraction for tourists in Kashmir. Set up in pine-dotted slopes of Gulmarg, 55 km north of capital Srinagar, the Gondola car cable attracted 14 lakh tourists last year.
“Kashmir always live up to expectations of a tourist. Unending mountain ranges, snow capped slopes, springs, lakes, and visit of Mughal gardens are life infusing. But what leaves a tourist awestruck is Gulmarg Gondola, simply astonishing,” says Christine, an American skier.
Gulmarg Gondola, designed in technical collaboration with a French Company, Pomagalski, and run by the Jammu and Kashmir Cable Car Corporation, was thrown open in May, 1998, raising the bar of the winter destination to a new level, more alluring to foreign tourists.
Asia’s highest and longest cable car project, the Gulmarg Gondola, ferries 600 people in an hour to and from Kongdoori, a bowl-shaped valley at the foothills of Afarwat Peak at the height of 13,780 feet. Split into two phases — Gulmarg-Kongdoori and Kongdoori-Afarwat — the phase one is an exciting 15 minutes trip up the pine-covered forest range and slopes of snow. A Gondola ride allows tourists to sevens are seven springs, a natural water source from seven springs originates, and vast rolling grassy meadows covered with snow known at Khilanmarg.
Each Gondola is a small yellow colored cabin with space for six adults. The cabins are slung on high tensile strength cables which move continuously.
The second stage of the ropeway, which has 36 cabins and 18 towers, takes skiers and tourists to a height of 12,293 feet at the foot of the Afarwat Peak at 13,780 feet above sea level. The journey is of 25 minutes, ascending steep green and rocky mountain peaks. The ride at times takes one through dense clouds. It is always cold and windy at Afarwat and tourists are provided warm clothes on rent there. Alpanther Lake, which remains frozen throughout the year, is a major attraction for trekkers. Rare flowers dot the area in summers, giving a colourful look to steep slopes and meadows.
During winters, skiers use Gondola to ski on the world’s best snow powder at Afarwat with unique slopes and exciting snowy bumps. Skiing, which is considered one of the adventurous, exciting and thrilling sports, keeps Gulmarg all winter. From mid-December to end March attracts hundreds of local and foreign skiers to ski, snowboard and do snow biking in the area. Gumarg houses finest ski training institute and hundreds of youngsters are trained every year. Because of rare snow powder and up to mark facility, Gulmarg has the international Skiing status. It is the only Ski-resort in the mighty Himalayas where you can Ski with a magnificent view of the Korakaram range.