Background: With its namesake flower-studded meadow, its 13,530-foot backdrop of Mount Apharwat and its untouched, impossibly long runs of backcountry powder, Gulmarg is one of India’s premier resorts—a Bollywood favorite. It’s at the western tip of the Himalayas, home to some of the world’s highest peaks, in a range called the Pir Panjals. You can take in views of the 26,660-foot Nanga Parbat from Gulmarg’s slopes. Each season, westerly and southwesterly storms hit the Pir Panjals first and unload on this lucky resort, blessing skiers and boarders with Gulmarg’s so-called “curry powder.”
Why It’s Unique: The highest slopes of Gulmarg are accessible by a single gondola, which pick people up at 8,694 feet and drop them off at 13,058 feet. It is operated by the government-run Jammu & Kashmir Cable Car Corporation. Service is plagued by a spotty power supply and only intermittent ski patrol access to avalanche control explosives (the explosives program was still operating on a trial basis as of 2008). Few have the chops to ride the gondola’s upper terrain, so those slopes are almost exclusively used by expert skiers and snowboarders.
(Photo by kruglov.com)