We had never seen snowfall ever in life and the day we planned our Gulmarg trip, it was white all around with the first snowfall of the season. It started snowing on the way itself and it was so heavy that road got jammed and at one point, we were afraid whether we would be able to make to Gulmarg. Thanks to the driver of our jeep (shared transport) who drove up skillfully despite it being quite slippery and took us to the top and yes, we were at Gulmarg on the very first snowfall of the season.
There is no direct public transport connection from Srinagar to Gulmarg so we took a shared taxi (public transport) from Srinagar (Batmaloo Taxi Stand) to Tangmarg and then changed there for another taxi to Gulmarg. It had been raining since previous night and as we started ascending up on the road to Gulmarg, rain switched to snow and very soon Gulmarg weather transitioned to heavy snow. Everything around us changed to white and we were like on the top of the world seeing snow first time. Not able to hide our happiness, we both were all smiling and looking out at white snow flakes covering our jeep from all sides.
As moved further up, the intensity of snow fall increased rapidly and soon complete road was white. Our driver was driving cautiously but we finally got stuck at a sharp turn as there were vehicles on the turn that were not able to move for it had become too slippery with road completely covered with snow. While we were stuck there, we came out and started enjoying snowfall in Kashmir and Gulmarg Weather.
It took us a good one hour to come out of this turn as vehicles moved very slowly one after another. Actually, many cars behind us turned back and returned to Srinagar. Thankfully, we took public transport and being a local, our driver skillfully negotiated through the snow and took us to Gulmarg. We walked up to the point from where Gondola ride starts. It is around one Kilo meter walk on a plain road and should not take more than 20 minutes. Only first phase of Gulmarg Gondola ride was open. Gondola ride was fun but it was damn too costly. As soon as we walked out reaching at the top, we found people offering skiing. There was a small enclosure in which people were trying amateur level skiing.
We decided to give a skip to skiing as we wanted to enjoy the Gulmarg Weather. We walked around in knee deep snow and then reached at one of the shops over there to sip hot tea and enjoy paranthas. We spent around 2 hours there before we took the Gondola ride back to the starting point.
We were lucky to experience snow fall on the same day that we visited Gulmarg. Things were unplanned but finally everything fell right in place as if it was a perfect plan by nature for us. Really enjoyed our day at Gulmarg, glittering all white covered with snow.
Srinagar to Gulmarg with public transport
Srinagar to Gulmarg distance is around 52 kilometers and there is no direct ‘shared transport’ from Srinagar to Gulmarg. We took a shared taxi (innova, Tavera etc) from Batmaloo bus stand in Srinagar to Tangmarg (Rs 70 per person, ~40 Kms, 1.5 hours) and then changed to another taxi at Tangmarg that was going to Gulmarg (Rs 40 per person, 12 Kms, 45 minutes). Due to snowfall, we were stuck on our way and it took us good 1.5 hours to reach Gulmarg from Tanmarg.
Though buses are also available from Batmaloo to Tanmarg but we will advise to avoid them as buses stop very frequently on the way and take 3 hours for the same ride (Based on our own experience). Difference in fare is also not significant (Rs 30 per person for bus vs Rs 70 per person for taxi). Taxis leave only once all seats are occupied (some initial wait) but they have far lesser stops on the way. We travelled in shared taxi in Kashmir for 6 days and found them quite comfortable and safe. Really loved our interactions with Kashmiri people during all our journeys.
Where to get shoes and jacket for snow
Ahh! we initially did not care for renting out jackets and shoes but thankfully locals in our taxi at Tangmarg advised us to get them form shops near the taxi stand. They proved really useful especially shoes as temperature in Gulmarg was quite low. You should get the jacket and shoes from Tangmarg only as we found no option of renting them out at Gulmarg. It cost us Rs 150 per person for a pair of shoes and a jacket.
Gulmarg Gondola Rides
There are 3 phases of Gulmarg Gondola rides and only first phase was open during our visit in November. Gondola rides are really expensive. You may refer the recent updates at this link.
We found the snow right at the base but still took the Gondola ride for fun. In summers, people take Gondola ride as there is no snow at the base. We shall suggest that taking all phases’ ride is not necessary if you are able to find snow early, better enjoy there only 🙂