Published on : Friday, January 20, 2017
The mountains surrounding the Kashmir Valley present some of the best winter sports scope in the whole world. Kashmir is known throughout the world as the ‘Paradise on Earth.’ During summer it has some of the most attractive resorts like Pahalgam, Gulmarg, Sonamarg and many more. People from all over the world visit these places during summers. Although most of the time Kashmir is being promoted as a summer destination, winter sports started there in the sixties in Gulmarg with the introduction of a ski school.
In fact, it was the renewal of winter sports which used to be held there in the late thirties and early forties of the last century. The Ski Club of India was established by Major Metcarp and Major Headow, two British Army Officers, in 1927 at Gulmarg.
Skiing had been introduced as a sport in Gulmarg almost at the same time as it had started in the Alps. The rebirth of skiing as a sport was started in the early seventies with the introduction of a Ski School by the Ministry of Tourism with UNDP assistance. This is now called the Indian Institute of Skiing and Mountaineering. They trained the first batch of instructors. The school later started short ski courses for beginners and group trainings.
This attracted once again a large number of British Tourists from Hong Kong. Gradually, the sport grew and a large number of ski lovers started coming to Gulmarg. In fact, the slopes of Gulmarg which have been homologated by the World Ski Federation (FIS) are suitable for all international level competition. The National Winter Games have been held at Gulmarg a number of times and the first one was held in March, 1986. Gulmarg has had collaboration with the French and Austrian National Ski Schools. Experts from these Schools have visited and trained instructors from Gulmarg for many years. Kashmir could be the ultimate winter destination if the potential is properly exploited.
To tap this potential the first requirement is international accessibility to this area. That can be achieved after Srinagar airport gets international air connectivity enabling direct international flights to touch down here and also when charters like Goa are allowed here.