It was around 8 pm and we were busy discussing on how our day was in Srinagar. It kinda sucked with the overwhelming traffic and crowd since we stayed in the heart of the city. But all of us happened to be asked a question repeatedly, over and over again by the locals. "Have you visited Gulmarg yet?", Almost everyone we interacted asked this question. So, there's definitely gotta be a reason behind this.
We decided to visit Gulmarg the following day since these words from locals in Srinagar really got us excited. It's almost 10'o clock when I settled in my bed, the new place didn't help my sleep much. I started wondering why locals were so excited to tell us about Gulmarg and what could be possibly there. I knew Gulmarg is pretty special for snow. Being there in September even though the snow season is yet to arrive, I sense there is something more special about the place beyond the snow.
Our Journey starts:
It's almost morning, and I managed to get few hours of sleep. Tired yet excited to see Gulmarg and see why it is so special. The route goes like this, Srinagar to Batamaloo, from there to Tangmarg and finally to Gulmarg. We must have enquired at least 10 people, since we couldn't actually pronounce the name of these places properly. We took a shared taxi, it was quite affordable. It took around one and half hour to Tangmarg, which is the starting point leading to the hills of Gulmarg.
On reaching Tangmarg we were stopped at a check post and a random local asked one of us to have a entrance register signed inside a room near that check post. We found it strange and one of us went with that guy. After a while he was accompanied with a tourist guide who got us in to the cab along with us. We were all confused and exclaiming why tourist guide accompanying us and we inquired with our friend. Then we realized that tourist guide apparently brain washed my friend by false promises and fake things.
We got down at Tangmarg and requested the tourist guide to leave since we don't really need their company. Apparently he tried to convince us by saying that "Godawalas" in Gulmarg were illiterates and will misbehave with us if we try go on our own. I have read few instances in Quora and other forums where tourist got into conflict with "Godawalas" but we figured that this guy is exaggerating things and trying to make his sale. Additionally he started making fake promises that he will show all important spots in Gulmarg but we knew it is impossible since Phase I and Phase II were closed due to bad weather. We were informed about that in our taxi to Sonmarg. We got rid of that annoying tourist guide and went on to board cab for Gulmarg.
Beware of tourist guides who will try to deceive you on your way by saying these kinda fake things about Gulmarg. It's not the case at all we didn't have any issue with "Godawalas" or find it difficult to spot important places around Gulmarg. I am not discouraging to hire a tourist guide but merely pointing out the fact that it is not mandatory to explore and have fun at Gulmarg.
Finally to Gulmarg: