Gulmarg, in comparison with the world's best snowboard destinations, offers an adventure far beyond regular or even comprehensible.
There is only one gondola-type ski lift that takes you up to the Affarwat stop (3950m). And that's it, nothing more - just untouched powdery slopes that guarantee an ultimate sliding experience!
From 3950m we walked still higher, reaching 4100m. We hadn't ever done much of uphill walking before, yet a sense of complete unity with nature during the walk turned out to be a wonderful adventure and one of the most impressive experiences of the whole trip.
Mountains are covered with an abundant blanket of snow there and the relief is just perfect. Pick any slope and go down in whichever direction you wish!
A long downhill slide was followed by yet another 2-3 hour walk. And again, I have to admit that although I have always favored a nonstop slicing through snow, I felt very inclined to attempt another way of enjoying mountains.
Our route went through some small villages where broken windowpanes of houses were covered with rags, and we felt like Martians who have landed on Kashmir planet. "One minute snowboard!?" small Indian kids called out into our direction. Nothing of the kind had ever been accessible to them and most likely will never be. Probably none of them will ever be able to fulfill such a dream...
Mountains in India are absolutely magnificent, yet snow-sports aren't typical of Indian culture. With exception of the guide, I didn't notice a single Indian on skies or on a snowboard. They come to mountains to play snowballs or just to have a look at snow. That's why guides aren't considered to be very competent ones there. Ours however turned out to be a true nature connoisseur with an amazing skill of imitating birds' voices.
It's a snowboard trip really worth experiencing! India possesses a peculiar primordial charm, yet without any ferocity. It exudes peace that involuntarily puts you into a meditative state - ironically, but I have to admit that, even though I do not believe those stories about sudden spiritual inspiration brought by travelling to India just once. Every now and then I had a strong desire to take off my snowboard and just have a walk in the wood. Silence and serenity surrounds you, whiteness of snow, and the sun shining through centenarian fir-trees - it's an amazing, never-before discovered delight and a truly transcendental sensation.
Maybe there is a wee bit of pathos in my words, yet I am absolutely positive that no words can express all that range of delightful emotions experienced during this trip.
Keywords: Gulmarg, India, snowboard
The combination of the terrain, snow, culture, people and the weird and wonderful random acts make Gulmarg a must do at least once while your heart’s still beating. Do it soon before anyone else discovers it.