India presents the ski holiday
OFFERING a rich diversity of landscapes, people and religions, India's Northernmost State, Jammu & Kashmir, is offering a variety of adventures for the traveller this season.
With a focus on adventure and experience related tourism, 2007 will see the opening up new areas in Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh to tourism as well as the development of existing attractions to provide more opportunities for exploration in this unique and varied landscape.
Following the launch of the highest gondola ski lift in the world last year, significant enhancements have been made to the skifield and resort area to accommodate increased international visitor
numbers. These include the employment of foreign ski experts to provide assistance with ski patrol, avalanche control and ski grooming, the introduction of groomed trails, renewal of ski rental equipment for up to 700 rentals and the opening of 4 new heated A-category hotels to provide an additional 100 rooms in the resort.
Says the state’s minister of tourism, Sri Mohammed Dilawar Mir, “The attraction of skiing off the highest gondola in the world, from a height of 4,390 metres on a six-kilometre run, with a mild climate, wide open spaces, no crowds, long days and the very real prospect of being able to carve tracks in virgin powder, is a huge draw card to skiers worldwide. Given the response to the gondola's first season in operation last year, coupled with further improvements to the infrastructure and good forward bookings from Australia, New Zealand, Russia and Canada, we anticipate strong growth for the forthcoming season.” The Gulmarg Ski Season runs from December through to March.
Other adventures for the coming year include traditional cruises in floating houseboats or ‘doongas’ on the famous Dal Lake in Srinagar; golf itineraries including one at the highest course in the world, the Gulmarg Golf Course’; camel safaris in Ladakh along the ancient Silk Route; and a variety of mountaineering courses at the Jawahar Institute of Mountaineering and Winter Sports in Pahalgam.
The state’s tourism department is actively looking into the opportunity of providing unique experiences to tourists in remote areas such as the Gurez Valley where they are acquiring log huts and converting them into accommodation for tourists so that can experience the ancient language and culture of its 20,000 Dardik descendant residents.