We had to get up early as the plan was to leave early at the day break for Gulmarg. It was to avoid the bandh called for that day from impacting our programme. Leaving Srinagar at 0600 we rapidly progressed towards Gulmarg. At about 0745 we stopped at Raja Dhaba, a pure vegetarian place to eat with ample parking at a place called Mangalore Kunzer (yes you heard it right, Mangalore with no connection what so ever with Mangalore of Karnataka).
It is a very new establishment. This place has been just started by father and brother of our driver for the trip Mukhtiar Bhai. The owners and the staff were very proud of their qulity and after having a sumptuous breakfast of various kind of stuffed Paranthas we agreed that their pride was fully justified. The matter of Lunch also got settled and it was quickly decided that this is the place we are going to have lunch. Another important fact is, this place has clean toilets with ample water, a must for all travellers in general and for ladies in particular with both Indian and western type seats available. That alone could be a reason enough to stop here on your way to Gulmarg and / or return trip too.
We reached Gulmarg after a stopover at Tangmarg to pick up Gum Boots and Coats for snow (to keep your own cloths dry when you sit, fall or play with snow, at a rent of Rs 250 per set) and a guide (provided by our hotelier cum travel manager) by about 1000.
The stage I is the most popular destination among travellers and is very crowded as all the fun is mostly there, Skiing, Snow Scooters, etc are all there. Thus many travellers go only up to stage I and avoid going to stage II.
Going to stage II could be tough. some people, particularly elderly, may suffer due to un-acclimatised ascent to almost 4000 m from 2600 m but the beauty of sheer snow on that peak and nothing else but snow to play or capture it as part of your individual or group photo is a great fun. At 4000 m, not much of physical activity is recommended hence most people stay here for a maximum of 45 minutes. However, at the cost of paying Rs 900 extra to go to stage II, the place is worth it and it is a must visit place. We stuck to both stage plan and went to stage I and quickly from there to stage II
After getting down at the taxi stand (and like every place in Kashmir, your Srinagar taxi can go only upto taxi stand or hotel, thereafter if required one can hire a local taxi) we walked to Gondola Ticket counter which is about only a kilometre or so. No need to take any Pony or local taxi unless elderly or people having problem walking are part of your group (Beware of Pony walha who will take you on a ride, real and virtual, all over Gulmarg).
|On the way to Gondola station|
Our guide took tickets (Rs 1600 per person for both stages, Rs 700 for stage I). Soon we got into Gondola and our journey to stage I and II started.
|Here are the Tickets|
|Stage I Boarding Point|
|Looking Down - At the start of the ride|
|Up and down trolleys crossing|
|Shepard's huts on the slop|
|One more view - Stage i|
Switching to Stage II
|Stage II Trolley - Bigger & Better|
|Stage II is Photographers Delight|
|Clear Blue Sky|
|Yeh, We did it|
After a quick visit to Stage two (of about 40 min) we came down to stage I where some of us did skiing and balance made a snow man.
|Snow Scooters Area|
|Trying my hand at Skiing after 10 years - Early clumsiness|
Hello People - I am the Snowman
|Shadow Play by Clouds|
|Beauty at Stage i|