You don’t get to Gulmarg from somewhere; you go to Srinagar, the summer capital of Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, and then drive up to Gulmarg.
Getting to Srinagar
Getting to Srinagar is not a big deal – its relatively well connected to major Indian cities like Delhi and Mumbai (Bombay). There are regular flights. Other means are taking a train from Delhi to Jammu Tawi, the winter capital of the J&K State. And from Jammu you could take a Taxi or a bus to Srinagar. Alternatively, one could drive all the way to Srinagar from Delhi, using a personal car, a Taxi, or even a hired minivan like Tata Sumo, which works out well if you are in a group. In winters, you need to be careful about driving between Jammu and Srinagar as mud slides can render the National Highway No. 1 blocked, and you may get stranded for days sometimes. But what the heck – that itself is an experience. Imagine spending a night or two in Ramban or Batote, etc. – small towns situated next to river Chenab, as the highway meanders through the Himalayan ranges into the Kashmir valley.
Some flight details:
Booking well in advance online can get you return fares in the range of Rs5000 for first three, and about Rs3,500 for the last two budget airlines.
Security checks for flight to and from Srinagar are an experience. Being perhaps one of the most vulnerable air sectors, its actually pretty secure. Security is air-tight.
Getting to Gulmarg from Srinagar
The drive from Srinagar is about 2-3 hours (55km) – depending on which part of Srinagar do you start. On a busy morning day, it can easily take up to an hours just to get to the outskirts of sprwaling Srinagar. Its best to leave in early morning hours.
Its fine to drive yourself, if you are used to driving on Indian roads. Else, best is to take a taxi cab (more commonly referred to as Taxi in India). There are JKRTC buses that go to Gulmarg also, but as a tourist you can easily avoid that.
You can take a pre-paid taxi directly from Srinagar airport. Sample fare is about Rs1,250 for a day trip. If you book in advance, it’s about Rs900.
The taxi stand is in front of the J&K TDC (Jammu & Kashmir Tourism Development Corporation) Tourist Reception Centre [Telephone: +91-194- 245-2527).
Important for day visitors: When a friend visited Gulmarg in summer, as he drove in, he got a rude shock when the car was not allowed to go past into much of the town. What the government official at the barrier wanted to see was a confirmed letter of reservation in one of the Gulmarg hotels. So if you are going there on a day trip, either (manage somehow and) carry that letter or you can park the car at the car/taxi/local bus stand and then you would either have to walk your way, or get on the back of a pony. Which would probably be true even if you wanted to take an on-the-spot room in one of the hotels. Or better, just be prepared to be greeted to such whimsical direction/instruction from the local authorities. They can try very well, but with certain things, they just can’t seem to make any sense. Or, there may be other motives that may be working behind the scenes – like probably an intention to maximise the income for the pony wallahs.
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