Ride in the gondola
In the beginning, the scary crowds may scare you away, but resist the traffic and reach the very top – it will be the best decision you will make. The gondola has two phases; the first takes you to Kongdoor Station, which is packed with tour operators, restaurants, sunbeds and tourists. The second phase, however, takes you to Aparwath Station (at an altitude of over 13,000 feet and only open if the weather allows it), which has sparse crowds, a tranquil environment and stunning views of the snow-capped Himalayas. Website
Explore Gulmarg city
If you thought Gulmarg was only about skiing, then you expect a surprise. Put on your snowshoes and explore this amazing Himalayan city. Get an insight into the architectural history with a visit to St Mary’s Victorian-style Church, set in a wild landscape. It is also home to the world’s highest 18-hole golf course, which in winter turns into a beautiful snow-covered meadow and is a sight to behold. Around Gulmarg there are lots of beautiful places, such as Ningle Nallah and Ferozepur Nallah – streams famous for trout fishing. Although they may be partially or completely frozen in winter, they are still worth a visit. The Gulmarg Biosphere Reserve, which surrounds the hilly town, is popular for spotting wildlife such as the endangered musk deer, red fox and griffon. Ask your hotel to arrange a guide.
Most people plan their hike to Blomsterdalen during the summer months. But winter also has exciting, unique opportunities for serious adventure junkies. A challenging 3km hike from Aparwath Station will take you to the stunning Alpather Lake, which is completely frozen in winter. Walk across the lake or just admire the mountains reflected in its mirrored surface. There are guided hikes in Tanmarg (18 km away) and smaller hikes in the Gulmarg Valley. Website
Go ice skating or sledding
If you want to stay away from adventure sports, there are also fun, subdued activities you can do. There is an ice rink in the heart of the city, near the cable car station. Hire equipment and find instructors to help you glide around. Alternatively, you can be dragged around on sledges almost anywhere in the city – just call one, negotiate a fare and hop on. Pony riding is limited in the winter, especially in case of heavy snowfall, but ask around and you will definitely find someone who is willing to rent one out. Snowshoes are available in most rental stores and are ideal for exploring the nearby wooded areas.