This famous resort, scattered over the lower slopes of the Pir Panjal, 34 miles west of Srinagar, was first developed by the British as a low-key hill station at the end of the 19th century. "Here”, wrote a Major TR Swinburne in 1907 “the happy fugitive from the sweltering heat of the lower regions will find a climate as glorious as the scenery – he can enjoy the best of polo and golf, picnics and scrambles on foot or on horseback, coming home to wind up the happy day with a cheery dinner and game of bridge”.
Apart from a recently added ski lift, Gulmarg’s attractions have changed little since. As it was in Major Swinburne’s day, the village’s focal point is a large alpine meadow on which tourists picnic and take pony rides. Various trails also lead up the mountainside through forests of huge pines to glacial lakes and viewpoints from where, weather permitting, you can admire the snow-covered pyramid of mighty Naga Parbat (8,126m), nosing above the northern horizon in neighbouring Pakistan.
This extraordinary view is also attainable by less energetic visitors, thanks to the cable lift which nowadays stretches up the mountain – the centrepiece of a fully fledged winter ski resort. The French-built gondola carries skiers to the summit of Apharwat, at a culminating altitude of 3,950 m (12,959ft), which makes this the highest ski lift in the world.