Our tour in Kashmir across Srinagar, Sonmarg, Gulmarg, Pahalgam involved staying in various hotels and an overnight stay in a House Boat too but one experience which stood out, was Nedous Hotel Gulmarg.
We travelled to Gulmarg from Pahalgam and before checking into Nedous Hotel Gulmarg, we went for the cable car ride up the mountains. We also took on a mountain bike ride on the snow and after facing a snow storm, we rushed back towards the hotel. As we approached the hotel, through wet roads and some steep turns, we reached a place in front of IISM where on right hand side of the road, there was snow tall enough to cover our view completely. All we could see was top of a building with green sloped roof. As we took the turn, at the end of the road was the gate of Nedous Hotel. Yes, no signboard as such. The slippery walk from the main gate to the reception welcomed us with snow on both sides of the track.
Location of Nedous Hotel Gulmarg kashmir
Nedous Hotel is located on the Ski Institute Road, Opp Gulmarg Golf Club – the highest Golf Club in the world found in the year 1911 at a height of 2650 M. At a stone throw distance is the Indian Institute of Skiing and Mountaineering and the landmark building cannot be missed.
History of Nedous Hotel Gulmarg Kashmir and a love story
Little did we understand when we entered this property, that the history of this property is of 130 years and this is claimed to be the oldest run property in Asia. Traveller and Architect Michael Adam Nedou built this hotel in 1880’s and then went on to build another hotel in Srinagar during the Dogra rule in Kashmir. India was under British rule during that time and Kashmir was a preferred holiday destination. Nedous used to be a favoured choice for them. In line with many stories of the valley, where British and foreign tourists would come, fall in love, marry a local and settle down; there is a love story here too. One of Adam’s son fell in love with local girl Mir Jan, got converted into Islam and married her and settled down. Later, their daughter married Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah, founder of Jammu and Kashmir National Conference.
Reception and rooms at Nedous Hotel Gulmarg
Wooden floors and wooden structures welcome you as you enter this place. After the check in formalities, we left the walk in passage of the reception to go to our room. The rooms are placed in different levels in clusters across the property. We were in the leopard cottage, which was on top of a hillock and one has to climb the steps cut against the hill to reach the room. As we started going up the stairs, the height of snow on both sides of the stairs started increasing and no wonder, Tugga was most excited. We were in leopard cottage which had 3 more rooms in that unit. With all the basic amenities being present, one thing which drew our attention was the fireplace tucked in the corner of the room. The attendants, by now were slowly opening up with us and it was during our stay with them that we came to know of another part of Kashmir’s life. There are other categories of rooms like Executive rooms, Luxury suites and various types of cottages. The rooms are an epitome of the bygone era. Well maintained from the past, no jigsaw puzzle of light switches and a bell to call the wait staff and the attendants.
The Evening, night and morning at Nedous Hotel Gulmarg Kashmir
Ask anyone, evenings and nights in the hills are very lonely and one can almost listen to the whispers in the air. I have always felt that the mountains have a soul of their own and they speak with each other. Just like it happened in Pahalgam, I went out with my camera to capture the silent valley getting ready to embrace the evening rolling onto the night. When you see the valley and the hotel at night, with snow capped mountains and a blanket of white, which reflects and diffuses the darkness, it is visually enchanting. At night, we stood in the balcony in front of our room facing the IISM and the reception downhill. The air was numbing and all you could see were dim lights from far ahead, some snow hugged rooftops in grey and the snow in front of our balcony almost at the height of 2 ft.
Junaid and Shoukat (the former an almost Abhishek Bachhan lookalike) started sharing their stories. Junaid is MA in Urdu and lack of jobs in the valley, forces him to do this. “There were times when we left home in the morning unsure of whether we will be able to go back home ” A very soft spoken guy with a smile on his face, he has so many unpleasant memories of growing up in valley. From army cordoning off his entire village in the same evening as he had left for his school in the morning, not allowing him to enter his own house to terrorists knocking at their door at night for food and shelter. He has grown up seeing all. He hates terrorism and sheds a tear over what is happening in the valley. Many cups of teas, warm water for the Tugga, playing with him and then inviting us for his marriage next year for an authentic Wazawan, Junaid is perhaps a true representation of the people of Kashmir. At least, I would like to believe so. We tasted the best Gushtaba at Nedous Hotel and one portion seemed too much for 3 of us but never underestimate your capacity when in mountains. The water and air are so pure that they act as natural digestives.
Next morning, Tugga and I played a lot in the snow with the dinosaur miniatures that we were carrying with us. The snow boots taken on rent came to a great use when we tried climbing the mountain also. Again the mornings are a sight to behold in a mountain. Too much white can I say? One of the biggest surprise was waiting for us ..
Hunter’s Bar, Dining room and Nedous Hotel Gulmarg Kashmir
The Breakfast at Nedous Hotel Gulmarg was at their dining room. Wooden floors, wooden pillars, wooden roof, wooden furniture and hunting laurels on the walls. One can be in doubt whether it’s a hotel in the Himalayas or any reserve forest area. The eyes could see only an expanse of white with specks of green from the roof tops peeping out. With the sunlight seeping in through the large glass windows and a milk laden cup of tea, a freshly made egg with bread and Jam was simply surreal. I wanted to stay more. I wanted to see the changing light across that valley throughout the day, how a day unfolds from morning till evening. But it was time to be back to Srinagar and the houseboat stay. The motto of Nedous hotel says – Home away from home and there is a reason why that is said. The warmth of the staff, the connect and the cosiness of the rooms, the vast snow clad valleys outside – allows you to be just yourself ..
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