Gulmarg Gondola – The most popular tourist attraction of Kashmir, India
Out of these destinations, Gulmarg is the most famous and popular tourist destination of Kashmir. The major tourist attraction of Gulmarg in all season is the Gondola ride. The Gondola at Gulmarg is the highest operating Cable Car Gondola in the world.
Gulmarg Gondola has two phases. In the first phase, you board into the Gondola at Gulmarg and it will take you to a place called Kongdori which has an altitude of nearly 10,000 feet (3050 meter). In the second phase of Gulmarg Goldola, you board at Kongdori and the Gondola drops you on a glacier at the Peak of Afarwat Mountain which is at an altitude of 13,500 feet (4200 meter).
If you visit Gulmarg in the months of December to April then you will get thick snow covering the entire meadow at Kongdori i.e. the first phase of the Gondola. You can enjoy rides on Ice Cycles, Snow Mobiles and Snow Scooters in the first phase itself. You don’t have to go up to the Second phase of the Gondola. But if you want to enjoy skiing then you have to go up to the second phase. And for your kind information, Afarwat to Kongdori is the world’s highest and longest skiing slope. This is why, in the winter months when temperature dips well below zero degree huge numbers of ski lovers from all over the world come at Golmarg for skiing. Indian tourists generally avoid Gulmarg and Kashmir during winter months due to freezing temperatures. Though now-a-days they tend enjoy the chill of winter at Kashmir.
Indian tourists visit Kashmir mainly in summer i.e. mid May to mid June and in October. During summer months i.e. from May to November you may not get enough snow at the first phase. In that case, you must go up to the second phase of the Gondola.
The ticket for second phase as well as first phase of the Gondola ride is available from both Gulmarg and Kongdori ticket counter. Actually, it is available online in the Internet. You can book your ticket yourself online or call your hotel manager or tour operator to book a ticket for you in advance (but the hotel manager or tour operator may charge you some extra rupees for that service (rupees 150 to rupees 200 per person). Ticket fare for Gondola ride is Rupees 600 for the first phase and rupees 800 for the second phase though rates may change so to get the latest rate ask your tour operator or hotel manager.
For online booking you have to mention your Photo Identity Card number (Passport / Voter Card / Adhar Card / Driving License can be used as Photo Identity Card) and when collecting boarding pass for Gondola ride you may have to produce the same photo-identity card in original to the boarding-pass collection counter.
For your information, you have to go through three different counters for Gondola at Gulmarg –
- First counter is the ticket counter for purchasing tickets. You may skip this counter by buying tickets online in advance. Ticket counter opens 8 o’clock in the morning.
- Second counter is the boarding pass collection counter for collecting boarding pass by producing your ticket.
- Third and final counter is for riding the Gondola.
Remember, due to bad weather the second phase Gondola may not run always. And refund of ticket fare may take up to three days. So, it will be wiser not to book the second phase ticket in advance. If you see weather is good then you can purchase the tickets of the second phase after reaching at Kongdori (i.e. first phase).
Another very important point that you must follow is that reach Gulmarg for Gondola ride as early as possible. This has many benefits.
- First, by reaching early at Gulmarg Gondola Counter, you can avoid long queue. In peak seasons you may face an extremely long queue. May and October is the peak tourist season in Kashmir.
- Second, in the morning you are most likely to get fine weather. So, if you plan for the second phase of the Gondola, most likely it will be operative in the morning hours. In the afternoon the sky gets cloudy and weather may abruptly turn bad.
- Third, you will get more time to enjoy at Gulmarg. And if can come back early at Srinagar at your hotel (may be by 4 pm or 5 pm) then you can spent the evening for shopping at Srinagar.
If you visit Kashmir, do not forget to go to Gulmarg and ride Gondola. Indeed, The Gondola ride at Gulmarg itself is a memory for the life.