No trip to Gulmarg is complete without riding the Gondola. Available in two hops, or phases and each one takes you to enormous heights within minutes. At 5 meters per second, your first hop—Kongdori–ends even before you settle down and begin to enjoy as it takes just 7 minutes and you have climbed around 400 vertical meters. The ticket for this is Rs 700.
The second hop—Apharwat Peak–takes a little longer time to reach the top, around 12 minutes and you climb 900 meters vertically. Breathtaking views all around keep you mesmerized all the way. This is especially true when it has snowed earlier. Tickets for this ride costs Rs 900.
Your Adrenaline Rush Awaits
As you climb up, all the objects turn tiny and appear beautiful. Within 2 minutes you have already climbed 80 meters (270 feet) vertically and the houses below appear like toys. Even before this feeling sinks in, the toys turn tiny and men disappear giving you an adrenaline rush.
Be prepared for handshaking with clouds, as they eagerly await your arrival.
Returning travelers have given some valuable tips.
- Always book the tickets online. Get them printed before you arrive at the Gondola. The only task remains is to collect the “Boarding Pass” and you can enquire with the Security Personnel about it.
- There are two hops or journeys and tickets for both are separate. Boarding passes are separate too.
- Queues for collecting the Boarding Passes AND entering the cabs ARE See the tip below.
- If you are a group or one family then one person with identity proof can stand in the queue to take the boarding pass while other members can continue in the queue for entering the cab.
- The waiting time for entering the Cab can be up to 2 hours.
- Once you complete your first hop, immediately rush to the booking counter for your boarding pass. Caution The 2nd hop can be cancelled anytime either due to bad weather, equipment failure or crossing the limited booking. It is very hard to thing to do though, you’ll be blown away by the beauty of that place and you might be tempted of spending some more time there, taking some snaps. You can always enjoy the scenery on your return journey. A valid ticket does not give you the right to the 2nd journey hence it is advised to rush.
- The Booking Centers do not have card swiping machines. You need to carry cash.
- Carry at least one identify proof. If in a group, at least one is essential.
- Though tourists enjoy any extension in travel time (good for clicking pictures, looking around and yelling at the cars passing by) which is around 10-12 minutes normally, and can easily extend to 17-18 minutes, as some cabs stop for 3-4 minutes on tower stations.
Tips Regarding Touts/Locals
- There is no need for any guide. It is best to talk to those who have visited earlier. Once the locals arrive, your guide is of no help and he will keep quiet.
- Avoid agents offering you to buy a ticket for you. It does not take much time as the line moves quickly.
- For skiing from the Apharwat mountain, the ski charges including instructor are Rs 400/-. The locals usually start from Rs 2,000/- so beware.
- The Gondola is just a 1 km leisurely walk away from the parking / city center. You will need at the most 15 minutes walking down the distance. Do not pay heed to the touts/horse owners as they try to befool you about the above 4 km distance.
- Reach the Gondola before 10 as it gets crowded thereafter and chaos rules.
- Even if you want to sledge to the Gondola, pay no more than Rs 100. Despite what they say initially, you will be dropped around 100 meters prior to the booking office.
- If Sun plays hide and seek with the clouds, you better arm yourself with a Goggle.
Do not walk either with leather shoes or sandals. Get high boots and goggles on rent.