A trip to Gulmarg in winter is an experience in itself. The small town receives heavy snowfall in January and February and the entire place gets buried deep under a sheet of white. Ski competitions are held and tourists from all over the country flock here to experience the beauty of the winter season.
Gulmarg remains open for tourism throughout the year/ Even during January and February when it can snow as much as 5 to 6 feet here, the road to Gulmarg remains open and tourists continue to visit.
This tiny hamlet is one of the few tourist destinations in our country where tourist footfall happens for all 12 months. In the months of winter, it serves as one of the best Ski resorts in our country and you will find plenty of people around.
In the post below, I will provide information on how you can plan a trip to Gulmarg in winter. I will cover details like how to reach, where to stay, what to see, and other safety tips that you should keep in mind.
For all other details on Kashmir like mobile connectivity, public transport, taxi services, and several other tips, please take a look at How to Plan a Trip to Kashmir – A Complete Travel Guide.
To get the best hotel rates, and taxi charges, and to organize your trip to Kashmir, you can speak with Kunal @ 9910 402 252. Give him my reference and you will surely get a discounted rate.
Below is a video of my recent winter trip to Gulmarg. Other than reading the post below, you can also take a look at the video for more details.
How to Reach Gulmarg in Winter?
The journey to Gulmarg in winter will have to be broken down into three parts.
- The first part is reaching Srinagar
- Srinagar to Tangmarg will be the second part
- Tangmarg to Gulmarg will be the final lap of the journey
You can either travel by your own vehicle, rented taxi or public transport. If you need a detailed explanation of reaching Srinagar, please read How to Plan a Trip to Srinagar.
A trip anywhere is best done if you are traveling by your own car or motorcycle. It gives you the flexibility to travel in a more relaxed manner and is definitely the most convenient of all.
This however will not be the case for a winter trip to Gulmarg. For your first phase, you will reach Srinagar easily traveling via the Jammu Srinagar highway.
The next phase is of traveling from Srinagar to Tangmarg. It is a total of about 38 kilometers, depending on where you start from in Srinagar. For the entire drive, you will feel like you are driving on plains because the climb is not steep at all. There will be some snow on the sides of the road.
It will become tricky however once you reach Tangmarg. The final 15 kilometers between Tangmarg to Gulmarg is a very steep and winding road. The tricky part however is that this road gets buried completely under snow.
So in order to handle this road, you will need two things. The first one is great driving skills and the second one is snow chains.
Unless you are extremely confident in your own driving skills and know how to handle a vehicle in snow, do not attempt driving here.
If you do, then make sure you are bringing in snow chains because, without those, you just won’t be able to drive up. Even local taxi drivers cannot handle this stretch without snow chains.
Also Read: When is the Best time to Visit Gulmarg?
I will not really recommend making a winter trip by motorcycle because the temperature here drops to as far as -15 and -20 degrees Celsius.
If you are however confident that you can handle it then travel in the same manner as I explained above. Snow chains will be needed for the motorcycle as well or else you will just be skidding and falling all the way.
If you are thinking about reaching by public transport, then I am guessing that you have already made it to Srinagar by either flight or by Bus. This journey will have to be done in two phases because there is no direct bus from Srinagar to Gulmarg.
You will first have to board a bus for Parimpora from Dal Gate in Srinagar. From Parimpora, you will then have to change buses again and find one going towards Tangmarg.
Once you reach Tangmarg, just go to the Bus stand there and board a bus for Gulmarg. These are not the regular JKSRTC buses but rather the minibusses.
There is also no set timing. These buses travel all day long. Just as soon as the bus is full, the driver is ready to go. Even the buses drive up with snow chains on. The ticket is Rs. 50 per person.
The tricky part however is getting rid of the guides. They will try to fool you and ask you to take a private cab from Gulmarg. Do not fall for anything they say.
Just give them a deaf ear, keep walking, and get to the bus stand which is on the right-hand side just before Tangmarg. Reach there and hop on a bus to save yourself some money.
By Shared Taxi
Shared taxis run pretty much on the same lines as a Bus. You will first have to get to Tangmarg. You can get a shared taxi either from the Tourist taxi stand near Nehru Park or the main Srinagar Bus stand.
The second option is to go to Dal Gate, find a shared cab for Parimpora, and then change cabs again at Parimpora to board the one going towards Tangmarg.
After you reach Tangmarg, just get to the Bus stand and look for a “service gaadi”. Do not use the word “shared cab” because you will then just get a shrug and standard “I don’t know’ as a reply.
Once again, people will try to talk you into hiring a private cab but just ignore it and get to the Bus stand. From there, look for a “service gaadi” for Gulmarg which is mostly a Sumo and will cost you Rs. 50 per person.
By Private Taxi
In winter, a private taxi from Srinagar is not allowed to go to Gulmarg. This cab will take you only as far as Tangmarg. From there, you will then have to rent another cab which will cost you Rs. 1600 for a drop to Gulmarg.
That is correct. Just for a drive of 15 kilometers, you will have to pay Rs. 1,600 at Tangmarg. If you rent a private cab to drop at Gulmarg and then bring you back, it will cost you Rs. 2,500 (or even more sometimes).
These cabs are available at the Taxi stand which is extremely hard to miss once you reach Tangmarg. So for a private cab, you will first pay at least Rs. 2500 for your journey from Srinagar to Tangmarg. Then you will pay another Rs. 1600 for Tangmarg to Gulmarg.
In total, it will cost you about Rs. 4500 to Rs. 5000 for a short drive of 50 odd kilometers. And then you will spend the same amount of money on your journey back to Srinagar.
If you are looking for someone to get you good rates at taxis, you can speak with Kunal @ 9910 402 252. He is a contact who has helped in getting good deals with the hotels and cabs. Or you can contact me on Instagram.
Gulmarg Weather in Winter
Come December and it can snow in Gulmarg at any time. However, both the intensity and frequency of snowfall in December are very low.
Heavy snowfall starts to occur in early January and then lasts will mid-February. During this time, it mostly snows about 4 days a week. During this period, snowstorms are a common occurrence and sometimes even the roads can get blocked if it snowed too much.
By the end of February, there are several feet of snow on the ground. The frequency and Intensity of snowfall again reduce by March and the snow starts to melt by March-end.
Also Read: Sightseeing in Gulmarg
Gulmarg Temperature in Winter
The temperature in Gulmarg during winter fluctuates between 0 to -15 Degrees Celsius. Nights can be freezing cold and you will barely be able to step out of your hotel early in the morning and late in the evening.
Clothes for Gulmarg in Winter
An even more important question however is what to pack. As you can probably already guess, you will have to bring in all your woolen clothes. Get some good quality thermals as well.
A heavy windproof and waterproof jacket is a must. Make sure that your jacket also has a hood to it to protect your head, face, and neck. If it doesn’t, then you will have to get a woolen cap as well, preferably a Balaclava.
You will also have to pack good-quality gloves to keep your hands from freezing. Try finding a waterproof one if possible.
The biggest doubt however comes about what shoes to pack. Your normal sports shoes won’t do because you will be walking around in the snow and just can’t afford to get your shoes wet, or for the snow to enter your shoes.
A Cousin of mine was walking around in Puma sports shoes and with all the snow, the soles of both shoes came off.
What you need are Boots that go well above your ankles. If you can find ones that are snow and waterproof, then it would be a cherry on top. You can knot your boots tightly, then pull your jeans on top of it to make sure that snow won’t enter inside.
Renting Snow Boots in Gulmarg
If you don’t have boots that can survive the trip and you also don’t want to buy them just for the trip, then worry not. Snow boots are available for rent in Gulmarg itself.
You can reach Gulmarg and get these here for Rs. 250 per day per pair. They will quote you Rs. 500 per day but you can easily negotiate down to Rs. 200.
Once you arrive in Tangmarg, they will try to fool you into believing that there are no boots available for rent in Gulmarg which is not true. Ignore these so-called guides and rent in Gulmarg itself.
The only time you would want to rent these boots in Tangmarg is if you were making only a day trip to Gulmarg and intended to return a few hours later. In that case, you can rent the boots as well from Tangmarg, when you hire a private taxi.
I myself went there in Provogue Boots and they survived the trip fine. My cousin was wearing sports shoes and they just kept getting wet in the snow before the soles came off entirely.
Where to Stay
Gulmarg remains to be a major tourist attraction in the winter season as well for which, all hotels here remain open and functional.
One thing that you should however remember is that there is no budget hotel as such in Gulmarg. The price goes even higher during the winter season. Expect the average minimum price to be around Rs. 2000 to Rs. 2500 per day in the off-season and Rs. 5000 to Rs. 10000 in winter.
If you do not want to spend that kind of money, then a better way would be to stay in Srinagar city and make the visit to Gulmarg a day affair.
Start early in the morning from Srinagar, arrive at Gulmarg by 10 AM, spend a couple of hours, and be on your way back after having lunch here.
This is what I did on my last winter trip to Gulmarg because I did not want to spend all that money on the hotels unnecessarily. The video that I posted above is from that trip only.
Hotels in Gulmarg during Winter
All hotels here are very well equipped to handle the freezing temperatures outside. There will be three types of heaters in the room.
The first one is a big permanent heater installed in a corner of the room. The second is a heater in your bed. It is installed inside the bed and will warm up the mattress. The third one is a blower kind of thing that throws out warm air after getting plugged in.
Also Read: Hotel Review – Hotel Affarwat, Gulmarg
With so many heaters, your stay will be very warm. To be honest, once you are inside the room, you will just be wearing a light sweater no matter how cold it gets outside.
In terms of food, you can either order from a hotel only which would be convenient. Or you can step out and eat at any of the local restaurants in the small market area.
Places to Visit in Gulmarg in Winter
Snow-covered meadows and live snowfall is the first thing that you would want to see in Gulmarg in the winter season. The natural beauty of the snow with several feet of snow all around is something that you will cherish for days.
Apart from the snow, all tourist areas in Gulmarg remain accessible in the winter season. Places like St. Mary’s Church, Maharani Temple, and Golf Course will be open for tourists.
Gondola ride and trek to Alpather Lake however entirely depends on the weather. Gondola rides may get canceled on some days when the weather is not favorable.
Trekking to Alpather Lake entirely depends on whether or not Gondola to Phase 2 is available; and how much snow is there on the ground.
To be on the safer side though, if you want to visit Alpather Lake, then better take a guide from Gulmarg and not attempt it on your own.
Tourist attractions in Gulmarg are mentioned below.
- Drung Waterfall
- Gulmarg Gondola
- Alpather Lake
- Apharwat Peak
- Maharani Temple
- Gulmarg Golf Course
- St. Mary’s Church
- Maharaja Palace
- Children’s Park
- Strawberry Valley
- Baba Reshi
- Ningle Nallah & Ferozpur Nallah
- Bota Pathri
This is just a list of all the places. If you want to know more about these spots and their locations, please read A Complete List of Tourist Attractions in Gulmarg.
Things to do in Gulmarg in Winter
Apart from enjoying the natural beauty of the place and spending some time in peace, you can indulge yourself in some winter sports, of which Skiing is the major one.
Just take a walk around and you will have plenty of guides asking you to try your hand at Skiing. Their rates are however quite high. For half an hour of Skiing, you will be paying Rs. 1100. For one hour, you will be asked to pay Rs. 2000.
A ride on snow scooters and a wooden sled are two other popular activities in winter. The last time I was in Gulmarg in winter, I also saw a Zorbing Ball there so you can try your hand at that as well.
Gondola riding (which is the biggest attraction of Gulmarg) and trekking are two other things to do in Gulmarg. A trek to Alpather Lake from Gondola Phase 2 station is the shortest one.
If you are in for more adventure and are physically fit, then you can trek to the lake all the way from Gulmarg itself. There are in fact several other trek routes from Gulmarg if you have the time.
How is Gulmarg in November
If you went visiting Gulmarg in November, then you are going to be there in the off-season and at a very dull time. There is definitely not going to be any snow around and even if it was there, it will be very little.
It is very rare for heavy snowfall to occur in November. But it does happen sometimes, chances are only towards the end of November.
Otherwise, it will be a bit dull in terms of scenery. There is not going to be any greenery around, the grass will all be dried up and there won’t be any snow either.
On the positive side, in the month of November, you won’t have to change your mode of commute at Tangmarg. You can rent a taxi in Srinagar and it will bring you all the way to Gulmarg.
The weather will be cold but not way too much. During the start of the month, the day temperature will be around 20 Degrees Celsius and nights will be at around 3 Degrees.
By the end of the month, however, the day temperature will dip down to around 10 Degrees and nights will be freezing at -2 Degrees Celsius.
Also Read: Gulmarg Pictures – A Heaven Within Heaven
How is Gulmarg in December
In terms of reaching Gulmarg in December, you will have to follow the same process that I explained above. At the beginning of the month, when there isn’t much snow on the road, you may be able to book a ride straight from Srinagar to Gulmarg.
But towards the end of December, you will definitely have to change your mode of commute in December. You will first have to book a taxi from Srinagar to Tangmarg, and then either book another cab at Tangmarg or board a bus or shared cab for Gulmarg.
Snowfall usually occurs towards the end of the month. It may happen in early or mid-December as well but won’t be heavy and the intensity is not really that high.
Even if it does snow, snow will just melt away and will not stick to the ground. Day temperature will fluctuate between 0 to 10 Degrees Celsius while nights will range between 0 to -5.
How is Gulmarg in January
To reach Gulmarg in January, you will definitely have to change the mode of commute at Tangmarg. Your taxi from Srinagar will not be allowed to go all the way to Gulmarg.
It will start to snow towards the end of December and will continue throughout the month of January. On average, it will snow about 3 to 4 days a week at least and the intensity could differ from light to heavy.
Snow will start to stick to the ground and by mid-January, there will already be at least 2 to 3 feet of snow accumulated. Depending on the weather and intensity of the snowfall, it can be as much as 4 to 5 feet of snow in some places.
The temperature will either remain close to zero or several degrees below. Nights can sometimes go as low as -10 to -15 degrees Celsius.
How is Gulmarg in February
This is the time when all the winter sports in Gulmarg are in full swing because of the high amount of snow on the ground. It makes up for a perfect setting for skiing and several other snow-related activities.
Snowfall will be more frequent and intense towards the beginning of the month but will continue to get lesser as the month progresses. You will need to either rent a private taxi or board a bus or shared cab from Tangmarg in order to reach Gulmarg.
In terms of tourism, February is a better month than January because of slightly better weather conditions. The average day temperature will range between 5 to 10 Degrees Celsius and the average night temperature will remain close to 0.
How is Gulmarg in March
March is another great month for a winter trip to Gulmarg, especially toward the beginning of the month. Weather conditions would have improved tremendously with average day temperature ranging between 10 to 15 Degrees and night temperature between 0 to 5 degrees Celsius.
It does snow in Gulmarg in March as well but the frequency will continue to decrease with each passing day. Nonetheless, you will still be able to find plenty of snow in a pleasant weather setting making it a perfect time to be in Gulmarg.
You will not be able to go straight from Srinagar to Gulmarg through and will have to either rent a taxi or board a bus from Tangmarg.
I hope the information above on planning a trip to Gulmarg in winter was of help. If you have any questions, you can contact me on Instagram and I will be happy to answer. You can also consider subscribing to my YouTube channel and asking questions there.