Gulmarg Knowledge Guide
Originally called Gauri Marg (गौरी मार्ग) meaning (the path of Devi Gauri) it was renamed to Gulmarg ("meadow of flowers") by Sultan Yusuf Shah of the Chak Dynasty who frequented the place with his queen Habba khatoon in the 16th century. Wild flowers of 21 different varieties were collected by the Mughal emperor Jahangir for his gardens in Gulmarg. In the 19th century, British civil servants started using Gulmarg as a retreat to escape summers in North Indian plains. Hunting and golfing were their favorite pastime and three golf courses were established in Gulmarg including one exclusively for women. One of the golf courses survives and at an altitude of 2,650 metres (8,690 ft) is the world's highest golf course. In 1927, British established a ski club in Gulmarg and two annual ski events were hosted one each during Christmas and Easter. Central Asian explorer Aurel Stein also visited Gulmarg during this period.After the end of London colonial rule, Gulmarg became a part of the independent princely state of Jammu and Kashmir. To ensure the accession of the princely state, Pakistan planned an invasion of the state called Operation Gulmarg. One of the routes used by the invading militia of Pathan tribesmen, armed and supported by Pakistani regular troops, passed through the Haji Pir pass and Gulmarg onto the state capital Srinagar. Gulmarg fell to the invading army, but the Indian army led by the 1 Sikh Regiment, which had been airlifted to Srinagar only after the Dogra ruler of the state Maharaja Hari Singh had signed an Instrument of Accession with India on 26 October 1947, successfully defended the outskirts of Srinagar. Thereafter, Indian counterattacks pushed the tribesmen back and many towns including Gulmarg were recaptured. In 1948, Indian Army established a ski school in Gulmarg which later became the High Altitude Warfare School of the Indian army specializing in snow–craft and winter warfare. On 1 January 1949, the war ended under UN supervision and a Ceasefire line (CFL), which was rechristened the Line of Control (LOC) by the Shimla Agreement of 1972, came into being close to Gulmarg.After Indian Independence, Indian planners sought to develop a destination for Winter sports in India. The Department of Tourism of the Government of India invited Rudolph Matt, in 1960 to select a suitable location for such purpose. Matt zeroed in on Gulmarg as suitable location for development of a Winter sports destination in India. In 1968, Institute of Skiing and Mountaineering was established in Gulmarg to train ski instructors. Over the next decade Indian planners invested ₹30 million (US$420,000) to transform Gulmarg into a world-class ski destination. Gulmarg became a centre for skiers from Asian nations. In mid-1980s, heli-skiing was introduced in Gulmarg in collaboration with the Swiss skier Sylvain Saudan of Himalaya Heli-Ski Club of France. In the 1990s, the rise of militancy in Jammu and Kashmir affected tourism in Gulmarg. With the abatement of terrorism in the area, tourism started to recover in late 1990s. Work on the cable car project between Gulmarg and Apharwat Peak, which was commissioned in 1988 by Government of Jammu and Kashmir but was subsequently abandoned due to militancy in 1990, was resumed in 1998. In May 1998, Phase 1 of the project, between Gulmarg and Kongdori, began its commercial operation. In May 2005, Phase 2 of the project was also inaugurated making it one of the longest and highest rope ways of Asia. The chairlift installed as a part of Phase 3 of the project began its operations in 2011. The National Winter Games were held in Gulmarg in 1998, 2004 and 2008. In 2014, Government of Jammu and Kashmir drafted a Master Plan–2032 for Gulmarg. The plan includes development of a solid-waste treatment plant on 20 acres of land close to Gulmarg.
According to CNN, Gulmarg is the "heartland of winter sports in India" and was rated as Asia's seventh best ski destination. The town is accessible from Srinagar by road via Tangmarg. The road climbs uphill in the last 12 kilometres to Gulmarg passing through forests of pine and fir. Winter sports like skiing, tobogganing, snowboarding and heli-skiing take place on the slopes of Mount Apharwat reachable by a Gondola lift.