Winter Trip to Gulmarg – The Meadows of White

by Vargis.Khan

This post is in continuation with a previous one and a part of my Gulmarg Travelogue. On Day 1, We caught a flight from Delhi to Srinagar in early morning hours; and then booked a cab straight from the airport to arrive in Gulmarg. Our next 3 days were spent enjoying a winter trip to Gulmarg; indulging in snow sports and visiting some of the local tourist attractions. Details of the fourth day of the trip are mentioned below in the article. To read the previous part of the travelogue, please click on the link below.

Journey So Far: Day 3 – When it Snowed in Gulmarg all Day Long

There is an old saying that goes like “Be careful what you wish for”; only that in my case it literally came true. This was going to be our last day in Gulmarg; and we were supposed to travel back to Srinagar today as per the plan. We had already spent last 2 and a half days in Gulmarg and there was nothing new to be seen really. We had already enjoyed most of the winter sports like skiing, snow scooter etc; and with Gondola ride shut down due to bad weather, there was nothing left to be done as well. Still for some reason, I had this strange feeling last night wishing if we could just stay in Gulmarg for a day more. Little did I know that I will wake up the next day only to find it coming true.

Day 4 : Another Day in Gulmarg

I woke up the next day to a phone call from our driver Gulzar. He was supposed to come pick us up from Tangmarg today; and then drop us in Srinagar. He was from a village near Kupwara and with the weather being bad for last 2 days, it has been snowing pretty much everywhere in Kashmir. He told me that the road out of his village was completely snowed out and there was no way he was going to be able to make it to Gulmarg today.

Thing with places like Gulmarg is that they are tourist magnets so authorities keep the road to here clear all the time. But that is not the case with the local villages. Sometimes in remote areas, locals get stuck for days before someone arrives to clear snow off the roads. So if Gulzar was unable to come today, I knew that he would not be able to make it tomorrow as well; because the weather was still quite bad and it was snowing quite fiercely now actually. I couldn’t really blame Gulzar as well for not coming but then it also threw a hitch in my plans.

Change of Plans

Unsure of what to do next, I called the manager at Hotel Affarwat. His name was Sajjad and I kind of got a bit on friendlier terms with him, this being my second trip to Gulmarg. Before I came to Gulmarg, he had asked me if he should arrange a cab for me to pick up from the airport. Since I already had Gulzar booked for that purpose, I had turned him down at that time. But now I guess was a good time to take him up on the offer.

Sajjad immediately agreed to book a cab for me to Srinagar. Unfortunately however, due to the snow storm, vehicles weren’t moving between Tangmarg and Gulmarg at that time. It was already 10 AM and the earliest he said he could arrange a cab would be in second half of the day; after 2 PM. This brought in the second change in our plans. If we left Gulmarg at 2, we would reach Srinagar after dark; and our entire day today will get wasted in waiting for the weather to clear and for the cab to arrive.

“Why not stay in Gulmarg today as well and go straight to the airport tomorrow from here?” Suggested my cousin.

I thought about it. It actually sounded like a logical thing to do because there was still no guarantee of what time we will actually be able to leave Gulmarg today. 2 PM was just a guess but it all depended on the weather. In the end, I too agree to my cousin’s suggestion. My wish came true and we got to stay in Gulmarg for another day even though we had no plans to do so initially.

A Winter Trip to Gulmarg

So now our itinerary had changed completely. What initially was a plan to cover Gulmarg, Pahalgam and Srinagar and be a winter trip to Kashmir now because exclusively a winter trip to Gulmarg only. We arrived here straight from the airport and would be going back to the airport only, covering no other place at all. I told Sajjad of our changed plans and asked him to keep the cab ready for tomorrow. Our flight was at 3 PM from Srinagar so if we left Gulmarg by 10 AM, we would easily make it to the airport in time. All that was needed now was for the weather to calm down for which I was keeping my fingers crossed.

While I was talking to Sajjad, he asked me how my stay at Royal Park was; and if I would like to continue staying here or move back to Affarwat. The moment he asked me this, my immediate answer was to move back. There was nothing wrong with Hotel Royal Park really but I just did not like it. It is in fact costlier hotel than Affarwat but the entire staff felt a bit cold and unfriendly. To be honest, I am not even sure if it was just the staff there or something else but I just did not enjoy my stay at Royal Park.

I have provided a detailed review of this hotel at Hotel Royal Park – Average & Overpriced. So when Sajjad said that he could get the same room ready for me again if I wanted to move back, I immediately agreed.

Change of Hotels

My cousin was not happy with this arrangement at all. He really liked Hotel Royal Park better than Affarwat and wanted to continue staying here. After a bit of discussion and argument, he halfheartedly agreed. I told Sajjad to send a couple of his men to move our stuff back and in next half an hour, we were back in the same room at Affarwat that we were earlier staying at.

I called the owner of Hotel Grand Valley Inn in Srinagar and let him know that I will not be arriving as planned.  With that being done, there was nothing else left for us to do at all except to enjoy a Gulmarg buried under several feet of snow.

Hotel Royal Park

It had been snowing for last 2 days non-stop and pretty much everything was covered deep under snow. We came out to have lunch at Sohail’s restaurant and it was almost half buried in snow.

The market area in Gulmarg

vargis khan

These dogs really made me wonder how they survived such cold weather.

A guy cleaning snow off the roof.

View from Hotel Affarwat

We walked around for a while and returned to the hotel. Intensity of snowfall increased even more as the evening started to settle. Rest of our day was spent in the hotel only and we only got out at night to have dinner.

winter trip to gulmarg vargis khan

End of Day 4

Thus ended our 4th day of the trip; which in a way was also the last day. Tomorrow we were to drive back to Srinagar and catch a flight to Delhi. Sajjad confirmed that our driver will come to pick us up sharp by 9 AM. We watched a bit of TV and went to sleep a little late in the night.

Journey Ahead: Day 5 – Gulmarg to Delhi

I hope the travelogue above was of help and provided some information on planning a winter trip to Gulmarg. If you have any other questions; or need any further details; please feel free to ask in the comments section below; or at our Community Forum; and I will be glad to answer.

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