NDTV – Fayaz Bukhari
Monday, December 26, 2005 (Gulmarg):
Ice skaters are flocking to Gulmarg for a training camp ahead of the world skating events.
Camp participants include Ami Parekh, who will be the only Indian contender at the World Figure Skating Championships in Canada in March 2006.
“This is the first time I am practicing outdoors. It is a big ice surface. It is a lot of fun, but very cold,” Parekh said.
However, the sub-zero temperatures are proving to be a challenge for some skaters.
“It’s very cold here, and very difficult to practice,” said Vasu Dev, who represented India at Asian Figure Skating Championship last year.
Other participants, like Stanzin Namgyal from Leh, say they are used to the bitter cold and have adjusted well at the training camp.
Namgyal has been training under a new Canadian coach and is all set to leave for Romania with the Indian junior national team for a skating championship.
“The training here will improve our skills. We are going to the world championship and this will help improve our performance,” he said.
Indian coach Judy Lawrie is also impressed by the local talent, and camp organizers are now hoping that the training will help the Indian skaters prepare well for national and international events.
Gulmarg skies past Swiss Alps
Thursday, December 22, 2005 23:23 IST
SRINAGAR: Forget about Switzerland, the famed winter resort of Gulmarg is fast becoming a skiers’ paradise. From snow skiing to heli-skiing, Gulmarg has everything to offer for the winter tourists.
For the record, a group of 40 Russians are arriving in a couple of days for skiing on its slopes. Similarly, the Jammu and Kashmir Tourism Development Corporation (JKTDC) has received confirmation from tourists of different countries who intend to ski in Gulmarg.
Encouraged by the response from the tourists, the JKTDC has announced special packages to attract more and more people intending to ski in Gulmarg. The special package of Rs 6900 includes travel to Gulmarg from Srinagar, five nights and six days stay and skiing expenses.
The USP for Gulmarg definitely is the cheap rates it offers for the skiers. “Skiing is very costly in Europe and America. In Gulmarg it is much cheaper.
For instance if an American citizen comes right from New York to Gulmarg and then ski for a week, his whole expenditure will be a lot less compared to skiing in Europe,” said Sarmad. This year, the government has also given a go-ahead for heli-skiing in Gulmarg.
“A French national S Saudan had requested for permission for starting heli-skiing in Gulmarg. After going through the pros and cons, we have given him the green signal. We hope this year we will witness a large influx of ski lovers,” said Nazir Ahmad Bhat, Director of Tourism Kashmir.
Adding more punch, the J&K government has invited seven foreign skiers to Gulmarg to train locals for ski petrol and rescue mission in case of exigencies. They include two coaches each from Alaska and Australia, and three from Canada.
“This year the world’s highest ropeway situated at 13,400 feet is fully operational and skiers would like to ski from there. It needs back-up support of rescue, relief and ski petrol. We have invited seven coaches here who will train our 20 instructors.
They will patrol the area and could also be mobilised during emergencies,” said Mohommad Saleem Beig, director general of Tourism.
The rescue and relief mission is being moulded on an international pattern to instil confidence among foreign skiers. “These coaches will not be given any salary. We will bear their boarding, lodging and other expenses. They can ski and also train our men,” said Bhat.
And for a change, Gulmarg is now giving a tough competition to other destinations in the world this winter.
As Kashmir freezes, Gulmarg has fun skiing
Wednesday, December 21, 2005 00:19 IST
SRINAGAR: As Kashmir shivers under an intense cold wave, the winter resort of Gulmarg is bracing up for major skiing events for adventure tourists from India and abroad.
Gulmarg Development Authority is organising ice-skating events from December 25. These will continue till March next year to allow a large number of tourists to enjoy in Gulmarg, also known as the Switzerland of Asia.
“We are organising the ice skating events from December 25 in collaboration with the Institute of Skiing and Youth Services and Sports. The event will help in boosting winter tourism in Gulmarg,” said Farooq Ahmad Shah, CEO of Gulmarg Development Authority.
With both the phases of world’s highest ropeway, Gulmarg Gondola, fully operational, the skiers will have a field day as they can ski on the world class slopes from Aparhawat to Gulmarg.
Having an altitude of 1,3400 feet, the five kilometer ropeway is a major attraction for the tourists who want to ski from high altitude. Constructed by French Company Pomagaski, the first phase with a distance of 2.35 kilometer from Gulmarg to Kangdoori was made operational in 1998.
The second phase of the project from Kangdoori to Apharwat with a distance of 2.65 kilometer at the altitude of 13400 feet was made operational on May 2 this year.
“Both phases are working and skiers can now go up to Apharwat and then ski down to Gulmarg. This is an added advantage of Gulmarg which I expect will witness heavy rush of tourists this winter,” added Shah.