Tee time in the Himalayas
Less than an hour’s drive from Shimla is beautiful Naldehra, famous for its apple orchards, pomegranate trees lining the roads and colourful dahlias scattered over the hills. Legend has it that Lord Curzon fell so much in love with the cedar woods around here that he gave his youngest daughter Alexandra the middle name Naldehra.
The place boasts of one of the oldest golf courses in India, in operation sine 1905. The 18-hole course is right next to beautiful Swiss chalets, built with imported Finnish wood, by Satish Sud. According to Sud, “it requires a lot of grit, passion, confidence and a good amount of workout” to play golf in the hills.
A keen golfer, who had recently sponsored the trophy for the Lahore–Shimla Goodwill Golf Tournament, Sud maintains that since there are steep slopes to be tackled and the swings need more strength, a golfer just has to be physically fit to play here.
Mir Maaz Mohammod, a participants from Pakistan at the Goodwill Golf Tournament, seconds the opinion and adds, “The most important thing here is to place the ball accurately, or else it would get lost in the slopes surrounded by tall pine and deodar trees. Losing a ball means you have to start all over again and you get a one stroke penalty.”
As someone who regularly plays golf in the hills, he points out that there is little room for error when you play on a normal golf course. But in the hills there is danger not only of the ball getting lost but the arduous task of negotiating the valleys as well. “Most unfit players get out of breath just negotiating the hills,” he explains.
But, as Sud points out, the best thing about playing in the hills is not just the golf course, which is a beautiful green expanse. What one can also enjoy are the long solitary walks, pony rides, river rafting on the Sutlej, visiting interesting people in their quaint cottages, and fishing for mahaseer in the Sutlej. Chalet Naldehra arranges all these activities. All one needs to do is to pack one’s bags and head for the hills.