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Adorable Chick

Kashmir Diary : April 2013- Day 5 and 6

Lying at a driving distance of less than 2 hours from Srinagar city, Gulmarg, literally meaning "Meadow of Flowers" is a town/village forming a part of the western Himalayas, specifically belonging to the Pir Panjal range. . Though it is called so, it is covered in white on higher altitudes, for a major period of each year and is therefore a blissful ski-destination for enthusiasts from all over the world. There are plenty of hiking options too. Often, the summer season from May-June is chosen for a visit to this place as there is less snow on the ground. The town has a record of being host to the second highest Gondola in the world.

We included a two day- one night stay in the place. Our accommodation was booked at the Vintage Gulmarg hotel (a four star, affordable hotel). The property perches itself on an elevated piece of land in the centre of the town and lends a cozy atmosphere. We left Srinagar by 10 am on day 5 after breakfast and had Younis drive us to our destination. We reached the hotel just in time for lunch. The check in was easy. We were allocated 2 rooms opposite to each other on the ground floor. The interiors of the hotel were quite luxurious and comfortable.

As luck would have it, it snowed continuously and we could feel the chill down our spine. Despite several efforts to stand out in the open and make a snowman, we failed. It was too cold to let myself fall sick again, especially after a recovery just days before. We resorted to our rooms. Soon it was lunch time and we headed to the restaurant. We relished our vegetarian HOT lunch and were extremely pleased. It still poured snow. It was time for an afternoon nap. By the time we caught up on some sleep it was evening. The skies were slowly clearing out. It was Pizza time for the kids but the taste was a disaster. Younis was ready to drive us around the town. We boarded the car and simply went with the flow.

Tidy Desk

We reached a small temple. The temple was closed. It was fun to walk around the snowy surroundings. We also spotted army trucks and other vehicles. It felt proud to watch them go about their regular duties while laying their lives for the country in terms of need. The views were to die for. We drove uphill , twisting and turning past snowy paths. We had to get off at a certain view point to push away some snow from under our car to get past. It was a different and unique experience.

The evening was pleasant. We stopped for tea at a bigger resort (can't quite recollect the name today). We huddled up and made plans for the upcoming day due to the uncertain rains and snow. We stopped over the Gondola site to purchase tickets for the next day rides. Younis suggested that we chose a time slot a little after 10 am. We followed his suggestion.

The Gondola staff requested us to be present half hour early before our scheduled time of the ride. We chose to ride up one level for starters. The tickets for the second level could be purchased later. After collecting our tickets we returned to Vintage hotel, had an early dinner and called it a day. The skies had already darkened and it was biting cold outside. We cuddled into blankets and tried to catch up on some sleep.

The next morning was better than the previous. Though it was a cloudy day, it was neither snowing nor raining. In fact, we even spotted sunlight for a couple of hours. After a sumptuous breakfast we left the hotel and were driven by Younis to the Gondola site.

We produced our tickets. As we queued up with the tourist crowd, the clouds gathered again. By this time one of our group members had already opted for the second level as well. So he stuck to that, though the views atop would be hazy due to mist and cloud coverage. The ride was super cool. We reached the first level and got off the ride. Walking around on plain snow was a great. We spent around an hour on top. Unfortunately, the views were hidden completely by clouds. W could only see around 100 metres of the immediate surroundings. The fun was to join the queue and take a ride. It was all good for our first time on a Gondola. The super experience got us hungry. It was almost noon by the time we wound up. We headed to the hotel , had our lunch , checked out and started our drive towards Pahalgam ( for further story read Pahalgam)