21 September, 2020

Whispers On White Nights: With Steep Fall In Tourist Arrivals, Gulmarg Becomes A 'Ghost City'

The irruption of visiting sportsmen in Gulmarg is a brief interlude. Since last August, it has lain in snowy silence, to which it is fated to return.

Skiing competitors at the Khelo India winter games in Gulmarg
Photograph by Umer Asif
Whispers On White Nights: With Steep Fall In Tourist Arrivals, Gulmarg Becomes A 'Ghost City'

A mountain town boarded up for the winter, imprisoned in its icy whiteness for months—that’s what the Kashmiri ski resort of Gulmarg resembles this season.

Kolahoi Green is a four-star hotel, just 20 metres from the Gondola cable car. The hotel was closed in August 2019 after the government asked tourists and pilgrims to leave the Valley. “We closed the hotel in August. It rem­ained closed for five months,” says manager Hamid Masoodi. Gulmarg saw a steep fall in tourist arrivals this winter, he says. However, spring arri­ved suddenly, on the wings of a government-organised marquee event.

Thirty of the hotel’s 37 rooms were booked on March 7—around 900 players, over 100 journalists and scores of officials descended on Gulmarg to participate in the five-day long, first winter games chapter of Khelo India here. Despite calls from civil society to postpone it at a time when schools are closed due to the coronavirus scare, the government went against its own advisory against large gatherings. Many here see the move to hold the...



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