Gulmarg's Snowfall Symphony Fades: Ski Enthusiasts and Locals Yearn for Winter's Dance

Gulmarg's Snowfall Symphony Fades: Ski Enthusiasts and Locals Yearn for Winter's Dance

Gulmarg, a renowned ski destination nestled in the Pir Panjal Range of the Himalayas, is grappling with an unusual snow shortage this winter, leaving skiers and snowboarders disappointed. Despite the typically snow-covered slopes, unseasonably dry weather has hindered the accumulation of fresh powder, impacting both tourists and local businesses.

The Gulmarg Ski Resort, positioned at an elevation of 3,980 meters, is known for its expansive skiable terrain and the iconic Gulmarg Gondola. A staff member revealed that, despite the scarcity of snow, hotels have experienced high occupancy rates. However, those relying on winter sports enthusiasts, like 23-year-old snowboarding instructor Asif Ahmad Bhat, find themselves without work.

Bhat explained that Gulmarg typically attracts two types of visitors – those on leisure trips and adventure seekers looking for skiing and snowboarding experiences. Disheartened by the lack of snow, he had to cancel numerous bookings, cautioning clients against disappointment. Rising temperatures have exacerbated the issue, melting existing snow.

Sahil Ahmed Lone, a 25-year-old snowboarding instructor, shared the disappointment, having canceled bookings and even transported a client to a distant location with snow, albeit less than ideal. "What would they do here without the snow?" he questioned.

Despite the setbacks, optimism prevails among local authorities. Raja Yaqoob, the tourism director of Indian-administered Kashmir, acknowledged the delay in the ski season but anticipates a turnaround with the expected snowfall. He attributed the delay to El Nino and assured that the traditionally snowy months of January and February-March could still bring a significant amount of snow.

Yaqoob emphasized that the demand for tourism in Gulmarg remains robust, with hotels reporting 95-100% occupancy. He remains hopeful that the situation will improve once the anticipated snowfall materializes. The town, famous for its summer allure as the "Meadow of Flowers," saw a record 1.65 million tourists in 2023, raising hopes for a resilient tourism sector in 2024.

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