Khilanmarg Travel Guide: Things to Do and Places to See in Khilanmarg Near Gulmarg in Jammu & Kashmir (2022)
Khilanmarg is a miniature valley set at a 6 km walk from Gulmarg. It is located at a height of 2000 feet above Gulmarg which is one of the most sought-after tourist destinations in the country. Khilanmarg has one of the most beautiful sceneries that you can enjoy while you are here. The entire place is surrounded by panoramic glimpses of some of the tallest Himalayan peaks. The landscape of Khilanmarg is breathtaking and is a place to be once in a lifetime. This place is the perfect incorporation of natural beauty and to add to it, you can also enjoy adventure sports, making it a favored destination for thousands of visitors and especially sports enthusiasts. Khilanmarg is a great place for offbeat travel enthusiasts as the place is not directly reachable on vehicles. One has to either walk from Gulmarg or take a pony to reach this place. It is almost a 600 meters ascent from Gulmarg to Khilanmarg. Credit Googlemaps : Image Source
Khilanmarg is covered with blossoming and aromatic flowers in spring and is a hotshot destination for skiing enthusiasts in winter. To add to that, the extravagant Nanga Parbat peak and the twin peaks of Nun and Kun are also visible from Khilanmarg. You can get a clear view of the spectacular Nanga Parbat, located at a height of 8,137 m, which is the fifth-highest peak in the world. You will get panoramic views of the twin peaks of Nun and Kun, both at a height of 7,100 m from Khilanmarg which is a sight to behold. Other attractions that can be viewed and enjoyed from Khilanmarg are the mesmerizing water bodies of Jhelum, Dal and Wular, and the Shankaracharya Temple.
With the majestic Himalayas in the backdrop to entire place come alive and makes it a beautiful sight to behold. There are many photographers around clicking the photographs and enjoying the scenery in this beautiful place, making Khilanmarg a delight for those fond of clicking their cameras. One can also ride on horseback to their favorite spot or simply ride around the beautiful meadows.
Places To See And Things To Do In Khilanmarg
Check out 7 Places In Khilanmarg:
1. Alpather Lake
Alpather Lake is a high-altitude lake located near Khilanmarg. It is a beautiful and small lake located at the foot of the twin Apharwat Peaks. It is located at a height of 4,390 meters. Alpather Lake is also known as “Frozen Lake” as it remains frozen half of the year. It is one of the most visited tourist attractions near Khilanmarg. This lake is surrounded by the Rocky Mountains and lush green meadows covered with beautiful and unique flowers. Visiting Alpather lake during all seasons is a sight to behold and a spot to be on your list to be visited once in a lifetime. The lake freezes completely during the months of winters, especially in January and February. One can easily walk over the surface of a frozen lake during peak winters and it is an activity enjoyed by many locals and tourists visiting this place. The lake starts to melt in March but has chunks of ice floating in it and this place is surrounded by plenty of snow until May. If you are an adrenaline junkie, you can also choose to trek to this lake if you are an adventure enthusiast. It is a long 14 km trek and requires the person to be physically fit to be able to trek to this place. Make sure you carry your food, water, and snacks if you are planning to trek to this lake as there are no eateries on the way to Alpather lake.
Khilanmarg is one of the top skiing destinations in India. It is famous in the country and outside. Khilanmarg attracts tourists from all over the world to enjoy skiing and other sports activities. This place receives the heaviest snowfall in the country and hence it is the top destination to practice and enjoy skiing. You will see many tourists coming to Khilanmarg especially to enjoy skiing here in winters. There is a famous resort known as Gulmarg Resort. It is a big ski hill that is primarily serviced by two consecutive gondolas as mentioned above. It is the best kind of workout to enjoy the winters with a bit of an adrenaline rush while skiing here. The Ski terrain does not have a boundary and includes alpine bowls, chutes, cornices, glade skiing amongst ancient pines, etc. It is an ideal place to experience the thrill of speeding downhill on the beautiful snow-laden slopes. It is an ideal place for beginners to learn skiing and also has some advanced sloped where the advanced practitioners can hone their skills. There are three ski lifts for beginners and intermediate skiers. You can hire ski equipment at the Government Ski Rental Shop right next to these lifts. You will also have an option to hire a ski instructor for the duration of your stay or a day depending upon your requirement.
Gulmarg is located very close to Khilanmarg and must not be missed if you are in the area. Gulmarg is also known as nature’s daughter and is considered one of the most beautiful places in the country. The town is situated in the Pir Paranjal Range in the Western Himalayas and lies within the boundaries of Gulmarg Wildlife Sanctuary. Gulmarg sits high on Mount Apharwat that is a ski and snowboard resort with over 1,330 vertical meters of skiable terrain. It is also situated at an elevation of 2,650 meters which makes Gulmarg a place that receives some of the heaviest snowfall in the Himalayas. This fact makes it even more appealing for the tourists to visit the place. Because of the unique flora and fauna in the area that includes beautiful pine trees and some of the unique flowers, it is also named “Meadow of Flowers” which means “Gulmarg” in the local language and hence the name of the place. It is also the Heart of Winter sports in India because of the level of snow it receives. There are many hiking routes available in the area which makes it a unique attraction for adventure seekers and adrenaline junkies. Gulmarg was established as a ski resort in 1927 by two British Army officers. It was originally a hill station for wealthy tourists who would visit Gulmarg during the summers to get rid of the brazen hot during Indian summers.
4. Gondola Cable Car
Gulmarg Gondola located in Kongdori is one of the top tourist destinations in Khilanmarg and the nearby areas. It is Asia’s largest and highest cable car project. It is also the world’s second-largest and second-highest cable car project. The fact that it is located at a height and in a beautiful landscape makes it the most visited place by tourists in Gulmarg. Gulmarg Gondola project is divided into two phases. It ferries almost 600 people per hour to and from the Apharwat Mountain. This mountain is the heart of the area and most of the winter sports are organized in this area. The ropeway project is a joint venture of the government of Jammu and Kashmir with a French firm Pomagalski. The first stage transfers from the Gulmarg resort at 2,600 m and a vertical height of 400 m to Kongdori Station in the bowl-shaped Kongdori valley. It ferries 1500 people to the height of 3100 m every hour. This is the place where you can enjoy winter sports including skiing. The second stage of the ropeway, which has 36 cabins and 18 towers. It was also built-in record time. It takes skiing enthusiasts to a height of 3,747 m on Kongdoori Mountain, a shoulder of nearby Afarwat Peak 4,200 m. After you reach the station, you will need to trek for another 30 minutes to reach the mountaintop. You can also see the Line of Control (LOC) from this place. The Gondola cable car is also known as Gulmarg gondola presents a magnificent view of Nanda Devi, LOC, and Pir Panjal range.
5. Ferozpur Nallah
Ferozepur Nallah is also known as Shinmahinyu. It is a mountain stream originating from the Ferozepur Peak which is located at a distance of 5 km from Gulmarg. This stream originates through the valleys between the beautiful Chinamarg and Nurpur Pass. It is a heavenly place to spend your vacations and it is considered one of the most beautiful places in the country. It is also a famous destination for people who enjoy fishing, you will see many locals and visitors fishing for trout here. You can enjoy fishing here and enjoy it fresh in your meal. Locals residing in proximity use the stream as a source for drinking water. They believe that the water of the stream is blessed by the spirits of the mountain and has healing properties. This stream meets the river Bahan at Waters Meet. Waters meet is a famous tourist spot in Gulmarg. Tourists also visit Ferozepur Nallah because of the proximity to Tosamaidan, which can be reached within 3 days after a trek over a distance of 50 km. This place also provides a spectacular panoramic view of the valley. You can sit here to enjoy the view and feel blissful.
6. Ningli Nallah
Ningli Nallah is located at a distance of 10 km from Gulmarg and is a famous tourist destination in the area. People visiting Khilanmarg visit this place to enjoy the beauty of the place. It is another high-altitude mountain stream like Ferozepur nallah. Ningli Nallah was formed by the melting of ice in Apharwat Peak and Alpather Lake is the main source of Ningli Nallah. This stream passes through mountains in the area to meet with the River Jhelum. This is a nice place for picnics and to spend your time with your friends and family. You will see many people in the area enjoying the beauty of the place with their friends and family.
7. Shopping around Khilanmarg
Khilanmarg along with the nearby town Gulmarg is enriched with culture in all aspects. The culture is depicted in every little thing in the city. You will be able to see the uniqueness in things starting from the food, handicrafts to other items including the buildings that are constructed here and the neighboring cities around. You will find all sorts of shopping places here. From big shops to small vendors and temporary shops set up by sellers on the roadsides and vendors selling various things on the carts as well. Although Gulmarg and Khilanmarg are not big shopping places like Sri Nagar you will be able to find and buy souvenirs for your friends and family from the shops here.
Clothing especially Pashmina in Jammu and Kashmir is famous in the entire world and is bought by people vising from India and outside. Kashmiri Phirans are also popular among females and the often bought here. There are many shops in the Gulmarg market selling Phirans in all price ranges. You can buy walnut products, dry fruits, silk carpets, papier-mache souvenirs, and stone jewelry from the markets here. You can also choose to buy Kashmiri spices, dry fruits, the best quality saffron, and Kashmiri Kahwa from the local market. You can head to these local shops in the area and check out their products – Mr. Khan’s Tailor Shop, Ladakh Art Palace, Haji Akbar Cloth House, Faiz Shawls, The Main Market, Top Choice, and Shahab Textiles.
Best Time to Visit Khilanmarg
The perfect time for you to visit Khilanmarg depends on your reason you want to visit this beautiful place.
If you live in the Northern part of India and want to visit a cold hill station all around the year but a little less during summers, Khilanmarg is the place to be to beat the summer heat and go on from May to September. However, the best time to visit is between March and June if you want to beat the summer heat and enjoy the beautiful flowers in this meadow of flowers in their full bloom. The scenic view of the flora and fauna mesmerizes you with its beauty. Adventure seekers who love to hike would prefer to come to visit Khilanmarg during this time as all trekking routes and hiking trails are adorned with lush greenery and beautiful flowers that will bewitch your heart in no time.
However, if you like winter sports and enjoy the snow in this beautiful place, the months between December to March are ideal to visit. There are many ski resorts located in the area. You can enjoy skiing and other snow sports during your winter visit to this beautiful place.
How to Reach Khilanmarg?
Khilanmarg is not directly connected to the plains and there is no direct road transport available. However, there are several means of transport available for you to travel to Khilanmarg. You can choose from air travel, trains, buses, or taxis to reach this heavenly town in this beautiful valley.
Air Travel to Khilanmarg: The Nearest railway station is Sri Nagar International airport which is 67 km from Gulmarg. This airport is connected to most of the major cities in India. The local airlines and carriers like Air India, Jet Airways, Indigo, Spice Jet, and others have direct flights from Delhi. You can take a taxi to Gulmarg which is 35 km from Sri Nagar airport. After reaching Gulmarg. Khilanmarg is 6 km uphill and there are ponies available that can take you if you cannot walk.
Rail Travel to Khilanmarg: The nearest railway station is Jammu railway station that is located at a distance of 346 km from Khilanmarg. The railhead is connected to most of the major cities in India. Despite being the nearest railway station from Khilanmarg, Jammu Tawi or Udhampur railway station is directly connected to prime cities of the country, including Delhi, Bhatinda, Jaipur, Ahmedabad, and Jodhpur via several superfast, express, and mail trains. You can take a taxi or take a shared cab from outside the railway station to reach the highest motorable point and you can hike uphill or take a pony to reach Khilanmarg.
Road Travel to Khilanmarg: This is the best way to reach Khilanmarg as you will be able to enjoy the views on your way to the city while traveling by road. The nearest destination you can reach is Gulmarg. Gulmarg is connected by a network of roads to the nearest major cities like Chandigarh, Jammu, Sonamarg, Delhi, and Pahalgam. Bus service is also available from all the nearby major cities in the north that connect to Gulmarg.
Best Places to Stay in Khilanmarg
There are many warm and cozy places to stay in Khilanmarg and the nearby town of Gulmarg. There are luxurious 5-star hotels, mid-range hotels, homestays, bed and breakfast, and other budget hotels in Khilanmarg and nearby. Gulmarg has some of the best hotels and resorts in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Many hotels and resorts in Gulmarg are located amidst the scented forests of maple and apple orchards or the ones offering a view of the scenic and serene landscapes that increase the beauty and sophistication of the place tenfold. Some of the famous places in the area are The Khyber Himalayan Resort and Spa, Shaw Inn, Hotel Zahgeer Continental, The Pine Palace Resort, Gulmarg resorts, The Grand Kaisar. You can also choose to stay on houseboats. You can contact the local agencies to find the best houseboats and visit a few to find the best as per your requirements and budget.
Things to Eat in Khilanmarg
You will get to eat the best dishes in Kashmiri cuisine here in Khilanmarg or Gulmarg. There are many big and small restaurants serving the local Kashmiri food. The most popular dishes include Rogan Josh, Dum Aloo, and Yakhni. Some lesser-known but tasty local dishes you must try are Qabargaah which is the fried rack of Lamb. It is also known as Tabakh maaz among the Muslim locals, Modur Pulaav which is Sweet Pulao, usually eaten as a dessert, and Muj Gaad which is Fish with Radish.
Some of the other preparations that are famous in the area that are worth trying are Raazma-Gogji which is kidney beans or Rajma with turnip, Sheer Chai which is salted pink tea with almonds, Kahwa, the famous sweet green tea with almonds and Kashmiri spices, and Sheekh Kabab made of spicy ground lamb on skewers. Get ready for the culinary experience of a lifetime on your visit to this beautiful place.