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My Adventurous trip to Amazing Gulmarg, Kashmir - Never Say Never ghistovid foods

Trip to Gulmarg Kashmir, Pine and fur forest Gulmarg

One of The Most beautiful place in the World 
Gulmarg, Kashmir

About Gulmarg and why I feared to go to this place?
Never say Never, was a note to self when I visited one of my most feared but always top on my wish list places Gulmarg, Jammu and Kashmir (India). This is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful places in the world. Gulmarg hill station is a popular skiing destination and a notified area committee in the Baramulla district of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. The town is situated in the Pir Panjal Range in the western Himalayas. In the 17thCentury when Mughal Emperor Jehangir visited Kashmir he said that “Gar firdaus bar-rue zamin ast, hami asto, hamin asto,hamin ast.” Meaning (“If there is a heaven on earth, it's here, it's here, it's here.”) and till date, this quote holds true for all the tourist who visit and get mesmerized by the beauty of this place. But during the 1990s due to the rise of militancy and terrorism in the area the tourism of Gulmarg was majorly affected. Till today there are cases of unrest in the area and hence I always had this fear to visit this beautiful hill station which is located very close to the border. It is the heartland of winter sports in India and rated as Asia's seventh best ski destination. 
Tourist Attraction Gulmarg, Kashmir

Over the years Gulmarg attracts a large number of tourist. It also has Asia’s largest and world’s second largest cable car project called Gulmarg Gondola where it connects Gulmarg with Apharwat Mountain, from where one can ski down on a long snow-trail. Gulmarg is also known for its longest Golf Course in India.

This trip made me aware of how ignorant I was and how I believed negative news in the media about this beautiful place and its people. Mystic Snowclad Mountains, scenic beauty, mesmerizing views is how I had seen Gulmarg in Bollywood movies and it was exactly what I saw even in reality. I always wanted to go there, experience and perform famous Romantic Shahrukh Khan style Bollywood songs in the snow, which eventually I did: D Because of its larger than life landscapes and awesome mystic views, so many Bollywood movies are shot in Kashmir like Bobby, Jab Tak Hai Jaan, Haider, Highway, Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani, Bajrangi Bhaijaan, Heropanti, Student of the Year etc....  

Ambreen Shaikh - Foodhist Journey at Mumbai Airport

The time when my colleagues were planning to visit this place I have to be very honest, I was extremely scared. I had always told myself I will never visit this place. First of all I couldn't imagine myself in -14 degree temperature, I wasn't even sure I will be able to breathe in that kind of temperature, then I wasn't sure with all that snow around will we get any decent food to eat? , with so much of regular negative news run by Indian media on unrest in the area, I wasn’t sure what the actual condition was and will we be safe there? Then I couldn't think of a good reason that why are we shifting our business meeting to Gulmarg? To experience adventure sports?
To make our business meeting fun and adventurous, we planned this trip and can you believe it, learning a sport was part of our KRA. :D

View from the plane of the beautiful Himalayas, Jammu and Kashmir, Srinagar Airport
View from the plane of the beautiful Himalayas

 How to reach Gulmarg?

So without much choice then I packed my bags - mentally, physically, emotionally prepared myself for this trip, went to the Mumbai airport, met my colleagues and got on that plane (Mumbai – Delhi). We had more people joining us at the Delhi Airport and then we caught the final destination flight (Delhi – Srinagar). My excitement by now was on another level and just when our plane was about to land in Srinagar airport my heart started to beat fast and I was just all geared up and ready to experience the adventure.

That was the new beginning of first time discovering an adventurous me. Not because I had never traveled before? I have traveled to Indian and International Locations but this place, so close to the border was a first time thrilling experience for me.

To reach Gulmarg, Kashmir you can catch a flight from Delhi airport which is the sole departure point for flights to Srinagar. If you are traveling from an International location you can stay for a night in Delhi city and next day catch a flight. It takes about 1 hr 45 mins to reach Srinagar from Delhi and if you have a window seat, you will love the view of the Himalayas. It’s always better to pre plan and book your packages much in advance to get the best rates. Otherwise during the season the rates and charges are really high. So plan and pre book it during off season to get the best deals.

The journey from Srinagar airport till the hill station Gulmarg Kashmir is 60 kilometers by fully paved road. This is a (2 to 3 hours’ drive). There are Snow-blower as well during heavy snowfall to keep the routes accessible and help you reach your destination faster. This drive is just so amazing crossing the forest hilltop of pine and fir. The private tourist cars also have chains tied on the tiers to protect the tiers in snow.

Snow Blower in Gulmarg Kashmir

One thing you must know about Kashmir is that there is very high security in this area and you will find Army men with arms at every other location. Once you cross the checkpoints, the rest of your journey is really smooth.
We had to go through 3 or 4 check points to actually pass through at the Srinagar airport and even get our luggage checked everywhere.

Imagine you see movies with Army forces, all these men with guns in every locality and now you actually see all of that in real life. Very Unreal.

Nedou's Hotel Gulmarg Kashmir, Foodhist Journey

My stay at Nedou’s Hotel: “Home away from Home”

After crossing all the pine and fir forest and villages and after all that curiosity, excitement, and fear we finally reached our destination Nedou’s Hotel in Gulmarg :D

The average annual snowfall here is 14 meters/1400 cm; 45 feet /550 inch snow per year. So imagine the entire hotel was just covered in this amazing white snow. The view from every corner of this hotel was just so magical. I had a big wide smile on my face when we reached the hotel. The temperature was freezing. We all were super excited, our inner child had suddenly woken up, we didn’t even bother about our luggage and just got out of the car, running in random direction speeding towards the snow, we instantly started playing, rolling and jumping in the snow. 
Nedou's Hotel Gulmarg Kashmir, Jammu and Kashmir, Foodhist Journey

The hotel staff was extremely sweet and helpful. We received such a great welcome and we were first taken in a warm main dining room space which was also the lobby area, we were given some warm water the staff was too kind to take our jackets and place it near the Bukhari for us to dry up and get normal.
Traditional Bukhari at Dining Room Nedou's Hotel Gulmarg Kashmir, Ambreen Shaikh, Foodhist Journey
Me Enjoying the Traditional Bukhari at Dining Room Nedou's Hotel Gulmarg Kashmir

It has a very spacious lobby, dining area, fireplace with a bar and hang out zone with great music, kitchen and then the rooms are located on top of the hill so you can have a lovely nice walk in the snow and reach your rooms. There is also a secret passage incase of heavy snowfall. They have luxury rooms, suites, executive rooms as per your requirement. They also have accommodation for groups.
Our wooden rooms were very comfortable, cozy, warm and nice. 
There was a bukhari in each room and electric bed warmer. 
Nedou's Hotel Room

We had very good service, everything was very clean, and we had all the basic facilities required. We played music, indoor board games, also shared some ghost stories, our voices echoed in the night and we had great fun. There was a caretaker always around our room to keep a check on the Bukhari and keep adding the wooden logs in the bukhari so that our room remains warm. Trust me you can’t let that bukhari die off even for a second it’s so freezing cold. 

For me the worst place to go to was the bathroom, :D we did get warm water in the bathroom but during heavy snowfall, we lost the electricity and the heater machines were not working because of that, one night we only got cold water in the room. That was crazy as even for a split second you can’t keep your tiny finger under that tap water, the water was so cold it was an extreme level of cold. I tried washing my hands under that water and I couldn’t move my fingers after that for a few minutes. So whoever went to the bathroom that night we could only hear people’s screams. :D
Fireplace at the hangout zone in Nedou's Hotel Gulmarg Kashmir
Fireplace at the hangout zone in Nedou's Hotel Gulmarg Kashmir

The breakfast at Nedou’s is excellent, we had almost everything served to us. It’s a huge variety and you won’t be disappointed with the breakfast. Rest of the food is ok here nothing was extraordinary, we mainly survived on soups and actually the street food near the hotel is quite delicious. 
Nedou's Hotel Gulmarg Kashmir in the Night
Me on my way to the room in the night at Nedou's Hotel Gulmarg Kashmir 
The weather is mind blowing and extremely cold. There is one very sweet uncle who is one of the oldest staff at Nedou’s, you will mostly find him near the dining area, he is such an amazing person and so caring, whatever you need just inform him and he will arrange it for you. I did survive here without falling sick and everything was perfect.
Heavy Snowfall in Gulmarg Kashmir
We Enjoying the Heavy Snowfall in Gulmarg Kashmir
The prices are moderate to expensive, depends on your pre-booking packages which you can check online and book before you arrive here. All the sports activities are just 10 mins walk away from this hotel, so definitely a great safe place to stay.

This hotel is a historic location and was launched in 1800’s by its founder Micheal Adam Nedou , it became a popularly holiday destination for the British Aristocrates, Colonial Goverment officials & Foreign travellers who would spend the entire summer in the hill station playing golf, fishing & trekking in the Pir Panjal mountain ranges. The hotel has hosted numerous dignitaries, royalties, future world leaders from across the globe. They had renowned visitors, from Mahatama Gandhi, Prime Minister Nehru, Mountbatten etc…
Animal Hanging Wall Art, Traditional Art at Nedou's Hotel Gulmarg Kashmir

At present, the hotel is still managed by the Nedou family. Mr. Omar Nedou the Great Grandson of Micheal Adam Nedou is the Managing Director of the property & continues the 130-year-old legacy of the Nedous hotels.
Nedou's Hotel Gulmarg Kashmir Foodhist Journey

Nedou's Hotel Gulmarg Kashmir Foodhist Journey

Overall stay at this hotel was like a dream come true. The most memorable awesome experience of my life. Highly Recommended!
On my way to get some sports gears in Gulmarg

Things to do in Gulmarg, Kashmir:

So while you are traveling to Gulmarg, you can actually halt at the gorgeous Dal lake first in Srinagar.
Dal lake Kashmir
Me at the Dal lake Srinagar, Kashmir
Snow fight in Gulmarg Nedous Hotel:

1. Skiing:
Skiing equipment gears in Gulmarg Kashmir

There are many places in Gulmarg for sightseeing, it is known as a world-class Skiing destination and in the 1960’s the Department of Tourism of the Government of India invited Rudolph Matt to develop Winter Sports in India and In 1968 due to the efforts of the Government Institute of Skiing and Mountaineering was established in Gulmarg to train ski instructors. Today many winter sports competitions are held during peak season and it is also considered to be the cheapest in the world to learn skiing. 
Snowboarding in Gulmarg Kashmir
Finally learned some snowboarding

Winter sports like skiing, tobogganing, snowboarding, and heli-skiing take place on the slopes of Mount Apharwat reachable by a Gondola lift. There are many shops near Nedou’s hotel from where you can rent gears and boards for skiing. They also give good training and make you practice so that you can learn the skills quickly. I managed to learn the very basics of snowboarding in a few hours’ time. I did fell a lot and Snowboarding was definitely very tough sport to learn. My day ended practicing on small slopes but we really enjoyed a lot and I am glad in the end I did learn the basics of snowboarding.

Ski Institute

2. Trekking:

April to November is the best season to trek. There are so many limitless adventures in Gulmarg which begin from the three trekking trails- Alpather Lake, Khilanmarg and Apharwat. Gulmarg (60km from Srinagar), from which treks can be made to Apharwat and Alpather, the upland lakes of Vishansar and Gangabal and the Thajiwas Glacier.
Outside the Ski Institute in Gulmarg Kashmir

3. Gulmarg Gondola: You can enjoy the Gondola Cable Car ride, which is one of the world's highest operating cable cars. It can carry 6 people at a time. This ride is mainly dependant on the weather, during extreme climate conditions which is very common here, the rides are shut. When we visited there was heavy snowfall and hence the Gondola ride was shut down.
Gondola Ride in Gulmarg Kashmir

4. Golfing: Gulmarg Golf Course: 
The Golf course at Gulmarg is unbelievable, most of the time I couldn’t believe my eyes with all that beauty around. Situated at an altitude of 2,650 m, it is one of the highest green golf course in the world. The historic Gulmarg Golf Club was started in 1911 by the British who used the place as a holiday resort. In the late 19th century a 6-hole golf course was made by Colonel Neville Chamberlain - the greens were known as browns in those days. The first Golf championship was played at Gulmarg in 1922. The Nedou's Cup was introduced in 1929.  The course remains covered under snow from December to April. 

5.  Gulmarg Wildlife Sanctuary Reserves:
 It is famous for retaining several rare and endangered species. Gulmarg Biosphere Reserve is a dreamland for nature lovers, adventure lovers, ornithologists, and all the travelers. Musk Deer, Hangul, Brown Bear, Leopard, and Black Bear are some of them.

View Point in Gulmarg Kashmir
Me at View Point in Gulmarg Kashmir
6. ViewPoint: On the way to Gulmarg many tourist halt at this point to check out the magical view. 
Snowbike in Gulmarg Kashmir

Apart from this, you can also get snowbikes, sledge, etc… for some fun activities in the snow. You can even visit Baba Reshi Shrine and St. Mary’s Church in the valley.

Weather & Best time to visit Gulmarg?

Sunrise in Gulmarg Kashmir

The weather is minimum – 8 degree Celsius from December till March. If you love adventure sports and wish to experience complete snowclad mountains then mid Jan to mid Feb is a recommended time to visit Gulmarg Kashmir, when there are heavy snowfall and extremely cold weather. 

Gulmarg in Summer Season (April-June): Temperature is approx 13 to 29 degree Celcius is the perfect time to visit when the flowers are in full bloom.

Gulmarg in Monsoon Season (July-September): During this time the crowd is less and there is not so much of monsoon but you will get to notice the waterfalls and greenery.

Gulmarg in Winter Season (October-March): Perfect for Skiing and adventure sports but the temperature is too much to handle.

Food in Gulmarg:

Goshtaba and Kashmiri Dum Aloo in Gulmarg Nedou's Hotel

Nadru Chips in Srinagar

The food in Kashmir is really delicious especially the bakery items are yummy and fresh. I think they have the best quality of bakeries. They have a great variety of food and the quantity of food is huge. Kashmiri’s just love feeding you and they are so loving and caring. We tried the local Nadru Chips, Goshtaba, Kashmiri Dum Aloo, Wazwan, the famous Kashmiri Qahwah, Kashmiri pickle was also delicious, the sheermal roti was yum, we also had so many items for Morning breakfast, aloo tikki, mushrooms, waffle, eggs, variety of breads, local apple jam etc… their street Maggie is a hit, I loved eating Maggie here and had lots of soup in that crazy climate. 
Fried Rice in Gulmarg Kashmir

You will also get very good continental food, Chinese and even the pizza’s are so good out here. It was difficult to capture pictures in freezing climate so whatever shots I have are really not the best of the collection but sharing here to give you an idea of food :D
Street Qahwa in Gulmarg Kashmir

Breakfast at Nedous Hotel Gulmarg kashmir

Waffle with Apple jam Nedou's hotel Gulmarg Kashmir

Local people

One thing which is so impressive about this place is that despite the level of unrest the local people are very hardworking and they are actually very well educated, it’s like almost 70% of the population is educated here. We mostly met people who spoke good Hindi and English and also knew the local Kashmiri language.

It’s important that before visiting this place you have a local contact or a local friend who can guide you well. Our driver was a really great guy, he took care of us and spoke to the locals in Kashmiri to get us to different places. He also had a great music collection which he played in the car, we never got bored he was a pretty cool guy.

There are good and bad elements in every society and this place was no different. It’s like any other tourist attraction spot. Surprisingly I found the locals to be extremely sweet, kind and very helpful people, in fact, they were just so peaceful and nice to talk to. It’s lovely to watch them speak in local Kashmiri language. Yes of course there were people who were kind of salesmen trying hard to sell you things but tourism is their source of income and you can't really blame them, it happens at every tourist destination in India. So without getting into all the political controversies, I have shared my experience just as a tourist.
Local kashmiri

Another thing about Kashmiri’s is that they are naturally so good looking. I mean these cute Kashmiri kids they actually had that pink natural blush on their cheeks and rosy lips :D At the airport me and my friends we actually shot a video where every other guy was so handsome and even the ladies are so pretty. They really have a natural style and always talk in a nice soft tone. But I did also see a few youngsters near Srinagar who were very loud and scary. But overall good crowd.


There are very few places to shop in Gulmarg, you can do most of your shopping in Srinagar or at the airport.

How to Survive in -14 Degree Celsius Temperature in Gulmarg, Kashmir

Things to carry while packing for Gulmarg:

1. Clothes & Footwear:

It’s important that you come prepared for the climate in Gulmarg mostly if you plan to visit this place in the peak season of Jan and Feb. Have thermals, few sweaters, Waterproof snow jacket, tights, jeans socks, hand gloves, woolen, and synthetic clothes. There are places from where you can rent warm jackets and shoes as well, but I had gone prepared with shoes I can trek in and which had a good sole grip. My friends did buy the shoes from local shops but they were slippery and my friends slipped and fell very often.

This is what I did to really stay warm, I wore thin layers of clothes. I used to wear thermal wear first and then add 2 layers of long sleeve thin cotton tees, then wear a thin sweater and on top of it, I used to wear the double jacket. To keep my legs warm, again I used to wear thermal, then tights and over that, I used to wear jeans. At times when I used to feel extremely cold, I used to wear these long length socks too. I used to even wear 2 layers of socks to keep my feet warm. We all used to actually take 5 to 10 mins to wear so many clothes. Trust me it’s really crazy out there and beyond 10 mins in the snow, you start shivering. So it’s better to walk or do some physical activities to stay warm. Also, get a jacket which has a hood to cover your head and ears.
Bukhari in the room at Nedous Hotel Gulmarg kashmir

2. Heaters/ Bukhari:

There are heaters in the car to keep you warm while traveling and there is also traditional Bukhari. The Bukhari is fired by wooden logs which keep the entire area nice and warm.

3. Kashmiri Kangdi: This is a traditional pot to keep you warm which you can carry along with you.

4. Woolen caps: Carry some woolen caps too, for more protection.

5. Have Hot drinks and meals: Drink warm water, warm drinks, soups, Maggie, etc…I mostly survived on really hot soups, hot chicken fried rice, and Maggie.
Heavy Snowfall in Gulmarg - me at Gulmarg Adventure sports center

6. Do sports activities or trekking: It will actually make you sweat when you do these activities in the snow.

7. Make sure to go to a warm place every 15 to 20 mins. We had a car around which had a heater or there were shops around. I would usually sometimes even run back to the hotel because my legs would really start freezing.

Do smart packing, so you don’t carry heavy luggage, you won’t look like a fashion disaster and you can really enjoy your time in the snow. :) 

Is it safe to travel to Gulmarg Kashmir?

Dal lake Srinagar Kashmir

Yes, it’s very safe to travel here if you have a local contact or know a local good family. Usually, there is no threat to the tourist, but you can get caught up in an unpleasant situation. It’s best to know a local tour guide or a friend, there is a lot of security in the area. But it’s very important to be aware of your surroundings. For Example when we visited Srinagar Dal Lake area everything was shut. It seemed there was a stone pelting incident which had happened, people were protesting and most of the shops were closed and there were hardly any people around. We took quick pictures at the Dal lake and did quick shopping at few of the shops, then our driver instructed us to leave from that location.

I made a few friends in Kashmir and the people are so welcoming they invite you to come to stay with them, they have really beautiful homes with that old heritage architecture. The family is so sweet, they feed you some amazing home cooked food and they even become your guide and show you different places around. They eat a really huge quantity of delicious food and they eat very frequently so you won’t be disappointed at all with all the love and hospitality.

On our way to Gulmarg, some Kashmiri local guys stopped our car and they were saying something in Kashmiri which we didn’t understand but our local Kashmiri guide spoke to them and took care of them (no idea what that was but it didn’t look good). We just spend a few minutes there and left for our journey. The local People were helpful to guide us and they are generally sweet. When we reached Gulmarg we found no trace of unrest and we had absolutely no issues there.  It was all worth the risk if there were any.
Jammu and Kashmir

Overall it was the best trip of my life and definitely one of the most beautiful places in the world.

Highly Recommended!
Snow in Gulmarg

Hope you enjoyed this post and found the details helpful.
You know i overcame my fears by going on this trip and each moment was something so special and magical, to walk on that snow is a feeling i can't even express. It was all thanks to my friends who kept motivating me throughout the trip. All i could do is Thank God for creating such a beautiful land like Gulmarg and making me witness heaven like place on earth.
Snowman in Gulmarg Kashmir
Meet my little snowman Snowy :D
To discover more such adventures, do follow @foodhist.journey Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. :)
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Ambreen Shaikh
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