Walkways in Gulmarg
Gulmarg has been a resort for the kings like Yousuf Shah Chak and Jahangir who used to visit frequently. The old name of Gulmarg was “Gaurimarg”, the name of Lord Shiva’s wife. Yousuf Shah Chak changed its name to Gulmarg, meaning the place of roses. During the early part of the 20th century the famous Central Asian explorer Sir Marc Aurel Stein (1862 – 1943), made his home here in a tent between his expeditions. It was a favourite summer holiday destination for the British stationed in India.
The surrounding areas were politically restive during the 1990s uprising in Kashmir, but since a ceasefire between India and Pakistan in 2003, the town has enjoyed a period of relative peace and quiet. The town is nestled within the imposing Himalayan peaks, and lies within miles of the Line of Control. It receives heavy snowfall during the winter season and is a popular ski resort..
With the abatement of militancy in the area, Gulmarg has quickly become one of the state’s most visited destinations. The slopes of the Afarwat Hills of the Pir Panjal Range of the Himalaya Chain boast one of the longest and highest ski slopes in Asia. The total distance covered by ski lifts is five kilometres and the resort peaks at an altitude of 3,950 m (12,959 ft), accessed by an aerial gondola (telecabine). The skiing project was inaugurated by the Chief Minister on 25 December, 2004. The entire hill is guarded by the army at all times. The army, which is seen everywhere in the cities of Kashmir, is not in the town or the actual hilltop. Frisking is only done midway on the access road at 3 places: Tangmarg, near an army camp on the road from Tangmarg, and 5 km before entering Gulmarg. Gulmarg does not have any permanent residents. All living in Gulmarg are hotel employees and guests. Everyone else is required to leave the village by sunset, due to a curfew imposed by the army in 1990.
Gulmarg has its share of high end scientific research as well. Interestingly, there is a BARC lab that could as well become an attraction for visitors.
The High Altitude Research Laboratory was established at Gulmarg, Kashmir in 1963, on the initiative of Dr. H. J. Bhabha, to provide the scientific community of the country a self contained high altitude / high latitude laboratory for scientific research. Over the years a range of scientific investigations in the field of ionospheric studies, cosmic ray astrophysics, radio astronomy, geomagnetism, atmospheric neutron monitoring, high altitude flora and fauna etc. have been conducted from this laboratory.
The Bhabha Atomic Research Center’s Astrophysical Sciences Division operates three outstation facilities at Mt. Abu, Srinagar and Gulmarg. The activities at the Mumbai and Mt. Abu laboratories are centred around high-energy Gamma Ray Astronomy, Theoretical Astrophysics and Instrumentation Development, while a low energy Neutron Monitor is operated at the High Altitude Research Laboratory, Gulmarg. Locally relevant Radiation Application studies and Instrumentation Development activities are being pursued in the Srinagar laboratory.
Amongst the work that has been undertaken at Gulmarg HARL is:
Gamma-ray astronomy activities -> SAO/NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)
On Dec 21, the 40-day-long severest part of winter known as “Chilaikalan” set in Kashmir. Though ‘Chilaikalan’ would end on January 31, the winter would continue. The period would be followed by a 20-day long ‘Chilai Khurd’ and a 10-day long ‘Chila Bachha’.
Excerpted From GK: Srinagar, Dec 20: The winter sports scheduled to be inaugurated at the Christmas Eve have been postponed due to less snow at Gulmarg, the department of Tourism head, Farooq Ahmad Shah said. It may be held from January 10 to 15, though the dates have not been finalised yet.
Events would be snow boarding, skiing, snow rugby, snow cycling, ice-skating, snow scooter racing, night skiing and ice hockey. Besides there will be exhibition of handicrafts, Kashmiri classical music, etc.
The department would announce the calendar of winter sports activities during the festival – involving coaching courses by various institutes and departments. “Apart from local trainers available for tourists, various institutes like Biscoe School, Youth Services and Sports Department, Sports Council, Kashmir University, Indian Institute of Skiing and mountaineering will organise more than 20 coaching courses,” he said.
About the facilities, he said, ski and snowboarding equipments would be available for skiers in the ski shop at Gulmarg. Gulmarg Gondola, world’s highest cable car would be available for high altitude skiers.
Gulmarg is 56 kms from Srinagar. J&K SRTC operates regular deluxe and ordinary bus services from Srinagar. In winter, the buses operate up to Tangmarg (11 kms from Gulmarg), the remaining distance being covered with smaller vehicles. Tourist taxis also operate between Srinagar and Gulmarg.
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