Let it snow!

Skiing in March, in India, impossible? Possible. In Gulmarg, at 8700 feet. We had to take a gondola cable car, which is the second highest and longest in the world, up to Kongdori.

The landscape was beyond T’s wildest dreams. Mountains of snow ranging all around dotted with fir trees. The ground carpeted with white snow, like vanilla ice cream. Plenty of soft snow to pick up and play.

But before that, reaching here had its minor share of (mis)adventures. Gulmarg is a shorter drive from Srinagar, a little over an hour. The journey was as picturesque as expected. At Tangmarg, the mighty snow peaks of the Himalayas came into view beyond the brown roofs of the houses in the valley. We saw the world’s highest golf course with quaint green huts at the edge.

“That’s the Bobby hut.”

“Bobby!!!” My heart pounded with excitement at seeing the iconic hut featured in one of my fave childhood songs, ‘hum tum…’

“What’s Bobby, Mamma?”

I stared helplessly at dear dot, not knowing where to begin or how to explain. As I tried to feebly explain my emotions, she kindly let me off the hook.

“It’s Ok. Just show me the movie when we get back.”

That worked.

For some reason, vehicles had to park a kilometer away from the gondola ride starting point.

“Have to go to entry by pony, Madam. Or ATV.”

“No more pony rides, Mamma!”

“We don’t want to go on pony.”

Few minutes later, we were reluctantly trotting away on ponies.

Tip #1: Don’t fall for this trap. You can walk there in 20 minutes if you want to.

Then we reached the impossibly long queue which started on the road, snaked through the yard and went up two floors inside the building. Oh well. Some people tried to cut the queue with various sob stories and one woman actually started sobbing when the stories didn’t work with the impassive security.

“Mamma, she’s a grown woman. Why is she crying like a baby?”

“She must have very good acting skills.”

Everyone wearied of her blubbering and let her in. She didn’t stop even then, and cried all the way till she reached the cable car.

Not blessed with such thespian ability, or sheer brazenness, we patiently trudged along for over two hours.

Once we slid into the car and saw the stunning Apharwat peak looming above and the pine forests below, we forgot everything. It was completely worth it.

All the snow activities are at the 1st stop. T was delighted and played in the snow throwing snowballs, attempting to build snowmen and lying down on the snow to make a snow angel. The guide with us kept urging us towards the activities.

Tip #2: You don’t need the guide, even if you’re told it’s a must.

“I have tried skiing. I know I cannot ski. I will not ski now,” I declared firmly.

T tried skiing and got the hang of it easily. She proceeded to the next run and I was happy she was able to try her hand, or foot, at it. She then headed over to sledding and had a fun ride.

We had to take pix, of course. The rented snow boots were helpful, but it was so hot that we had to remove the rented coats.

Tip #3: Don’t rent coats if the weather doesn’t warrant it. Yes, there was snow, but it was also hot.

“Want to try the snow scooter? Or go up the cable car to the next phase?”

“I’m feeling tired. I just want to eat corn and go back.”

So that’s just what we did. By far, the most exhilarating day of this trip.

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About Sandhya Ranganathan

Sandhya is a dreamer, a writer and a globetrotter. She has authored a children’s book, “Mia finds a home,” and co-authored her father, Lt. Col. V.S. Ranganathan (Retd.)’s autobiography, “Burma to Bangalore”, represented by The Book Bakers and published by Locksley Hall Publishing. Her poems have been featured in various anthologies. She currently heads a Technical Communications team in an MNC and is on the board of Manage The Docs industry leadership community. She enjoys pottering around her home and garden in Bangalore, India, with her human and feline babies. Oh, and she loves miniatures and clouds.
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