Kashmir Takes Up Skiing In A Big Way

3 March 2009

Gulmarg: Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah took up skiing to promote tourism after inaugurating the international skiing championship, 'Gulmarg Global Derby 2009'. 'What better promotion of Gulmarg can I do than to show people that even I can ski without the whole cordon of security people skiing down the mountain with me. This is the message that I want to send out that Jammu and Kashmir is open to business, and its open to tourists,' Abdullah said. The International Winter Games is being organised by the All India Winter Games Federation. Nine countries, including the US and Russia, are participating in the three-day event. Increasing numbers of foreign skiers are now whizzing down the pristine Himalayan slopes of Kashmir. 'We feel it's a fantastic place because it is very different from our Alps. It's full of snow. The ambience is really exciting and it's beautiful,' said Lewton, a skier from Italy. About 250 skiers including 50 foreigners are expected to take part in the three-day international winter games. The vent would include cross-country skiing competition followed by Alpine run super slalom. Gulmarg, a bowl shaped plateau at an altitude of 8,500 feet in the Pir Panjal ranges is a favourite destination for tourists to indulge in winter sports. The slopes in Gulmarg varying between 8,700 and 10,500 feet are the highest ski runs in India. Heli-skiing is another winter sport that is quite popular at Gulmarg, which boasts of being the only heli-skiing resort in Asia.