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Driving to Gulmarg in the Mercedes-Benz B-Class

Varun Anchan Updated: November 22, 2013, 06:42 PM IST

We traveled 8,825 feet above sea level, the temperature consistently dropping with every winding turn on our way to Gulmarg. It was the perfect Bollywood setup – a sprawling landscape, snow-capped mountains, regal snow laden pine trees – minus Shahrukh Khan dancing with his leading lady in the background, of course! Instead it was us – two Mumbai boys surrounded by snow, driving around in our luxurious touring car, the Mercedes B-Class.

IMG_7408It really takes a moment for it to sink in that this picture perfect view and splendid locale is a part of India

It really takes a moment for it to sink in that this picture perfect view and splendid locale is a part of India. All doubts of Gulmarg being the 'Switzerland of India' were put aside. It's a short drive from Srinagar and the roads wind through some beautiful pine trees also known as the 'chinar trees' by the locals.

The B-Class at the snowy trailsThe B-Class at the snowy trails

After a comfortable drive, thanks to the temprature control in the cabin of the B-Class that kept us nice and warm, we arrived at the magnificent Khyber Himalayan Resort & Spa – Gulmarg's first luxury resort. Clad in timber and stone, the luxury resort is spread over seven acres in a pristine pine valley and offers breathtaking views of the snow-topped Affarwat peaks.

IMG_7214Luxuriously furnished and decorated with indigenous crafts, these rooms have ceiling height windows with views of the snow clad peaks

IMG_7223View of the Affarwat peaks of the Himalayas

A world away from the ordinary, this 85-room resort is framed at every vantage point by nature at its most spectacular and built in a style true to the architectural heritage of Kashmir. The interiors are designed with traditional materials and showcase fine Kashmiri crafts. Namdas of felted wool, silk carpets from local looms, furnishings embellished with crewel embroidery, carved walnut panelling, teakwood floors and papier-mâché accents draw upon Kashmir's rich heritage of craftsmanship.

IMG_7631Magnificent Khyber Himalayan Resort & Spa - Gulmarg's first luxury resort.

Amid the icy chill of Gulmarg, we received a warm welcome from the staff. We made our way to one of the Premier Rooms where we would be staying for the next two days, with ceiling-height windows that framed white peaks and sylvan valleys. Luxuriously furnished and decorated, these rooms are warm, welcoming spaces, designed to make you feel pampered.

IMG_7317The luxurious Mercedes B-Class with the Gumarg Valley in the background

The following day began in the wee hours of the morning, driving along snowed in roads flanked on either side by towering pine trees and expansive forests. After taking in the picturesque sights and sounds, we made our way towards Gulmarg Gondola, the highest ski lift in the world. It takes more than 600 visitors and skiers per day to Kongdoori Mountain on the shoulder of Mount Affarwat, the highest ski point in the Himalayas at 13,780 feet.

IMG_7521The very famous Gulmarg Gondola, one of the highest cable cars in the world, reaching 3,979 meters

IMG_7562The ski slopes of Gulmarg are world famous and offer an excellent experience between December and January

By far, the highlight of our trip was the skiing experience. With the help of a professional trainer, you can successfully attempt some basic skiing on small gentle slopes. After two hours of perfecting our skills, we made our way back to the hotel to feed our ravenous appetites.

IMG_7615Wazwan is a multi-course meal in Kashmiri cuisine, the preparation of which is considered an art and a point of pride in the Kashmiri culture

Dinner was a traditional Kashmiri meal 'Wazwan' bursting with flavour and taste from the in-house restaurant Cloves. What never ceased to amaze me was the sheer warmth and kindness shown by the hotel staff and locals.

IMG_7149Most Important landmark of Srinagar, Dal Lake!

Our last day's plan was a visit to Srinagar and the famous Dal Lake – a pride of the state. If you think you've seen real beauty during your travels across the globe, think again. It was a surreal experience just standing along the banks of the lake stretching as far as you can see with the sun setting in the distance, watching the time pass by, staring at the calm still waters occasionally broken by the fishermen's shikaras.

IMG_7200Shikaras are a cultural symbol of the lake and seen mostly in the lakes of Srinagar

The B-Class alongside the shikarasThe B-Class alongside the shikaras

Price (Ex-Delhi)
Starts Rs 31.99 Lakhs
Displacement
2143cc
Transmission
Automatic
Max Power(ps)
122
Max Torque(Nm)
300
Mileage
19.7 Kmpl
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