The Meadow of Flowers, better known as Gulmarg, was our next stop. On our way, my wife and I had been debating as to why people from India wanted to visit Switzerland. I recalled my wife’s first reaction when we got off at Grindelwald from the train from Interlaken. She peered through the rain, peered at whatever could be seen of the Eiger and her sisters, peered at me accusingly and said, “We’ve seen far better mountains and scenery in India and Nepal!”
Driving up and into Gulmarg, we revisited this conversation one more time with feeling. We had booked into the oldest hotel at Gulmarg, the Nedou’s Hotel, a 130-year old property which retained a lot of its old charm and sense of luxury. The reception lobby had on display framed pricelists from the days of the Raj, and it was piquant to read that a full breakfast could be had for Rs 7, and board and lodge for 3 months could cost the then princely sum of Rs 190 per month for a family of four.
At 5.40 odd the next morning, my wife and I replayed our conversation from Grindelwald, because this is what we saw from our bedroom window.
The morning and later, when the sun rose, more beauties were available to be admired. The mountain daisies, the Strawberry Valley, the lupines in the garden, the grass slopes which look manicured (not by man, but by horses and cattle), the mountain slopes which become ski slopes in winter – Gulmarg is the skiing capital of India, and the The Indian Institute of Skiing and Mountaineering is based in Gulmarg – the list is endless. You can walk for hours around the valley, shaped like a saucer, surrounded by trees and rising gently up to the mountains. For us, this is not a place for running about or ticking off things on our to-do list – this is a place to laze around in, absorb the bounties of Nature by osmosis as it were.