Gulmarg Gondola – A Joyride
Hey guys, hope you all are doing well. Let me take you on a joyride to Gulmarg Gondola today, one of our most thrilling experiences in Kashmir. It was also on top of my travel bucket list until last year. We visited Kashmir in October 2018 and had planned a 5-day itinerary with 3 major destinations, Pahalgam, Gulmarg, and Sonmarg. Here’s an ultimate Kashmir Travel Guide for you if you are traveling with kids.
We were already quite nervous about our trip because of the tensed situations in J&K. However, we wanted our trip to be a memorable & exciting one so we tried including some adventure in it. And, today I am going to share our experience of an adventurous Gulmarg Gondola Ride.
Most of you must be aware of Gulmarg being a popular ski destination in India during winters. Many tourists, travelers, and adventurers visit Gulmarg in the months of Dec-Jan-Feb to enjoy the snow.
However, if you are planning a vacation with young kids, I would suggest not visiting in the extreme winter months. Especially, if it’s their first experience at a high altitude as the temperature dips as low as -14 degrees Celsius in peak winters.
We found October to be perfect for traveling with kids when the average temperature was around 5 to 15 degrees Celcius.
Gulmarg Gondola Joyride
Gulmarg Gondola is one of the world’s longest & highest operating cable cars which operate in 2 phases. There’s one more phase that is chairlift which majorly operates in winter months.
3 Stages of Gondola ride
Gulmarg to Kongdoori (9 mins) and Kongdoori to Apharwat Peak (12 mins)
Chairlift – Kongdoori to Mary shoulder (children below 10 years of age are not allowed)
Although I have experienced ropeway rides at many other places like Manali, Mussoorie, Mansa Devi ropeway and Nanda Devi ropeway in India and Langkawi sky cab in Malaysia. The Gulmarg Gondola ride was quite an exhilarating experience for all of us. It’s thrilling and spine-chilling when you are thousands of feet above the ground & all you see around yourself are the snow-covered mountain peaks & the tips of pine trees.
Well, I remember freaking out when the cable car started swinging due to strong winds after crossing phase 1. At that moment, I was having flashes of movie ‘Frozen’ (no, not the Disney Frozen). The movie where 3 friends get stranded on the chair lift when the ski patrol mistakenly left them behind.
I was getting all the horrible thoughts in my mind. I looked at my mom, surprisingly she looked calm, I am sure she was in the meditative state. When I turned to look at my mother-in-law, she seemed as terrified as I was. And, I immediately turned to my husband, to get reassurance that everything is fine & he managed to reciprocate with a smile.
Next, I wanted to see the reaction on Nemit’s face in that situation. I was avoiding eye contact since I was fearing that he would want to jump into my lap the moment I look at him.
But to my utter surprise, he was the only one who was enjoying the valley view. He was happily looking outside across the glass door when he turned around & said, ‘Wow, look mumma-papa, that’s snow. I want to play in the snow.’ And, it brought a big smile on everyone’s face. And, our fears just vanished into thin air.
That’s childhood, fearless & carefree.
All you need to know before taking the Gondola ride!
When to visit
Gulmarg Gondola is operational all year round. They may shut down periodically for maintenance. It is better to call on the helpline numbers before visiting Gulmarg and check with them if they are operational or not.
- Email – firstname.lastname@example.org
- Ph- +919650226555, 91-197-2435837
We visited in October and there was not much snow even at phase 2 or the snow was too thin & slippery. Also, there were no snow activities during that time. But the views were breathtaking, there were fewer tourists and we got to enjoy the panoramic beauty of the mountain ranges.
If you want to enjoy the snow activities, visit from Nov to Mar.
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Timings of Gondola
Gondola timings are from 9 am to 5 pm (depending on weather conditions) and the ticket is valid only for 3 hours from the time of boarding. At any time, if the weather gets bad, they immediately evacuate the place for the safety of tourists.
It is always better to book tickets after checking with them the current weather conditions. I would suggest booking online once you reach Gulmarg. Ticket counters usually have long queues which are a total waste of time. Also, when you book online you get to select a time slot (of an hour) from 9 am to 3 pm & the ticket is valid for 3 hours.
For phase 1 & 2, children below 3 years are free. And for phase 3, children below 10 years are not allowed.
I would recommend booking a two-way ticket from Gulmarg to Apharwat. Go directly to phase 2, spend some time there playing in the snow and then come back to phase 1. Please take care of small children and senior citizens as they may face some breathing problem for the first few minutes.
As per our experience, Nemit was all good and excited and didn’t face any issues which we were fearing. However, my mother-in-law did get breathing difficulty at Phase 2 & she couldn’t enjoy much. My mother was initially good but after some time she also felt a bit tired, due to less oxygen at high altitude.
There’s a seating area at both the levels in case someone wants to rest & relax and catch a breath.
What to Wear/Pack
At Apharwat, the temperature keeps on changing depending on the weather condition. So, even on a good sunny day, it is advisable to pack a pair of woolen gloves, a woolen cap to cover the head, ears & neck (or even face) and an extra jacket/wind-cheater. It is always good to put on layers rather than covering up in 1 bulky woolen.
For kids, keep a pair of spare outfits in case they need a change after getting wet playing in the snow.
And, wear comfortable shoes, snow boots or hiking boots are good. You can also rent boots after reaching phase 2.
Do you need a Tourist Guide?
I would strongly suggest booking a guide if you have kids or elderly with you. They can help you walk through the snow, can carry your bags and narrate to you some amazing tales of the hills.
We paid INR 500/- for 3 hrs (bargain as they start from 2000/-). I am sure the charges are high during peak season and winter season.
So, that’s all for today. I hope you enjoyed reading this post and found it helpful. I would love to hear your experience of any cable car rides. Do write them down in the comments below.
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