Gulmarg beckons all time high tourists in winter
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Gulmarg beckons all time high tourists in winter

JK Gears up for 3rd ‘Khelo India National Winter Games’

Post by MOHAMMAD HANIEF on Wednesday, January 18, 2023

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Gulmarg is famous for its exquisite valleys, gorgeous streams, fascinating slopes for every sort of skiing and hiking and is also home to one of the highest golf courses in the world. Gulmarg is equally most sought after place in summer as well as in winter for, it offers myriad choices during summers like greenery and flower beds all around, with beautiful lakes, sublime valleys and Gulmarg Gandola. During winters, the place is thronged by the tourists for its snowy slopes where skiing is done.


Gulmarg was first established as a ski resort by the British who had set up the Ski Club of India in 1927. Skiing at Gulmarg had become very popular during the pre-independence years. The skiing season usually commences just before Christmas (mid December) and continues till early April. During 1998, Gulmarg hosted the first National Winter Games of India.


Gulmarg is all set to host third edition of ‘Khelo India National Winter Games’ to be held from February 10, 2023 and during a review meeting recently, Sarmad Hafeez, secretary Tourism and Youth Services and Sports departments of Jammu and Kashmir highlighted that the games will not only promote sports activities in Jammu and Kashmir but will also go a long way in attracting the tourists, both domestic and foreign, towards different tourist destinations of union territory.


The secretary further says that the approach of the government is to promote tourism at full scale and therefore all the stakeholders should utilise this opportunity for promoting the tourism potential of Jammu and Kashmir and added that the present administration is giving utmost importance to promotion of tourism and sports in Jammu and Kashmir and all must take maximum benefit out of this.


It was given out in the meeting that this year around 2000 athletes from different parts of the country will converge on the snow-bound slopes of Gulmarg during the event to compete in different categories of sports. It was also informed that sufficient accommodation for the dignitaries as well for the athletes will be facilitated in different hotels and in other resting places.


The prominent sports activities, which will be the hallmark attractions of the winter games includes snow Shoe Race, Ice Skating, Ice Hockey, Skiing, Nordic Ski, Snowboarding, Ski Mountaineering and Ice Stock besides other activities.


Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir won the maximum number of medals in the second edition of the Khelo India Winter national Games in February 2021 as they won 11 gold, 18 silver and 5 bronze to finish with a tally of 34 medals. More than 1000 athletes from various parts of the country participated in the mega five-day event, which was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.


Dr. Javid ul Rehman, assistant director JK Tourism department Gulmarg says that huge rush of tourists is expecting in Gulmarg this winter season as around 15.5 lacs international and national tourists and skiing players visited Gulmarg in last winter and this time footfall of tourists is expected to be all time high.


He further says that heli skiers in high numbers from Germany, Russian, USA, French, Australia are also expected as during last two years arrival of tourists and heli skiers remained low due to Covid and travel advisories of different countries and this time as Jammu and Kashmir has already received tourists around 1.80 crores in 2022 shows that in winter seasons, Gulmarg is expecting high number of national and international tourists.     


Gull Mustafa Dev, Incharge winter sports of Youth Services & Sports at Gulmarg was the first Indian Olympian from Jammu and Kashmir, who represented India in the Winter Olympic Games held at Calgary, Canada in 1988 says that Every year in winter seasons school children of Jammu as well as Kashmir comes to Gulmarg for 15 days skiing training courses of five categories after that they took part in the next levels of skiing which the department provides free of cost for all the students there during the training period.


The temperature of Gulmarg ranges from -4°C to -11°C in winter and this place receives heavy snowfall during the season, thus making it the ideal spot for snow sports. Gulmarg offers a host of other snow sports at this time of the year.


The most popular among the tourists is riding a sledge and being pulled along the snow-covered roads or gentler slopes. Tobogganing also does not require any skill – a flat wooden board is taken up the hill and then allowed to slide downhill. 


Snowboarding, another exciting winter sport is also being introduced and promoted here. Making a snowman and holding campfires around it amidst music and feasting is another popular activity indulged by the tourists. Skiing, tobogganing, snowboarding and heli-skiing are some of the few winter sports which are popular in Gulmarg. 


Gulmarg is the only place in Asia that has a heli-skiing resort. The sport of heli-skiing involves being dropped down by a helicopter on the summit of a high, snow-covered peak and thereafter skiing down the slopes. Although this sport has some elements of risk, the thrill experienced is unbeatable.  


Heliskiing takes place on the slopes of Mount Apharwat. The trip to Mount Apharwat is an adventure in itself as it can only be accessed by a cable-car system called Gondola. Incidentally, it is one of the longest and highest cable cars in Asia considering its height of 3979 metres.


India, in the last few years has made steady progress in the field of sports. This tremendous potential needs to be showcased at a global platform. It’s time to inspire young talent to give them top-notch infrastructure and training of the highest level and to inculcate a strong spirit of participation in sports that enables players to demonstrate their true potential.


(The author is a regular columnist and can be mailed at

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