At Naldera, 23 km. from beyond Shimla is one of the oldest golf courses in India. The course, whose topography is absolutely natural, was originally placed by the British Viceroy of India, Lord Curzon, at the turn of the centuary. He was so enhanted by the spot that he named one of his daughters 'Naldera' after the spot. This is a par 68, nine hole course which is regarded as one of the most challenging in the country. In the repeat nine, the yardage some - what increases. The links are maintained by Himachal Tourism and accomodation is available at Hotel Golf Glade. There are other hotels in the private sector near Naldera.
Annandale, in Shimla has nine hole course managed by the army and there is another at the exquisite glade of Khajjiar, 22 km from Dalhousie and 24 km from Chamba . Putting greens are available at several resorts and hotels. Golf courses are also coming up elsewhere in the state.
The main trekking areas in Himachal are the Dhauladhar and Pir Panjal ranges, routes over the passes between the Shimla region and the Kullu valley, the numerous treks out of Kullu and select tracks in the Trans-Himalyan regions of Kinnaur , Lahaul and Spiti. Most trekking areas are between 1500 metres and 6000 metres.
With well over two hundred and seventy defined trails, the variation in terrain is also enormous. Low scrub-land and paths through paddy fields, give way to trails strewn with pine needles. Then come woods of oak and flowering rhododendron, which merge into forest of Himalyan cedar - 'deodar' - and spruce. On most trails, small pastoral hamlets dot the way. Cunningly hidden between the high mountains are passes which were once known only to migrant shepherds and dare all traders. These lead to the fabulous wastes and swift rivers of the arid Trans-Himalya. A host of combinations and variations take the trails through changing countryside. The degree of physical output can also be changed to suit your requirements. For example, the same trek can be developed from a week to last longer. Or, the two ends of a trek can be the same, but the trails can be designed to be taxing, or gentle.
There are several agencies that conduct treks. Guides, equipment, porters, pack animals and maps are available at major starting points. The old Forest 'dak bunglows' that are strategically placed along many trek routes, add a considerable measure of nostalgic charm and convenience for trekkers. Practically all have an aura of the past, and lie nestled in deep woods. In addition, the State Electricity Board and the PWD also have rest houses. Most of these are marked out on trekking maps and advance booking is possible. The Forest Rest Houses are booked by the area's Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) and the PWD and Electricity Board ones are booked by the concerned Executive Engineer.
Training facilities, with basic and intermediate courses are available at Manali's (Kullu) Mountaineering Institute and at its Regional centres at Dharamsala ( Kangra ) and Bharmour ( Chamba ). Excellent camping facilities exists at these points.
For high mountain thrills perhaps nothing can surpass the magic of heli-skiing. Under a deep blue sky, you are carried by a helicopter to a snow-draped peak. And after that there is nothing except steadiely distancing whirr of rotor blades, the sky and the snow. It is a thrilling experience as you rapidly zoom down the slopes. The icy winds slaps your face and the swiftly slithering hiss of skies remindes you that you are racing away on your own steam.
The sport is available in the area bound by Hanuman Tibba, Rohtang Pass, Deo Tibba and Chanderkhani Pass near the resort town of Manali ( Kullu ). A major feature is the compactness of heli skiing area. A sortie of ten minutes can carry the skiers to the top of a 14000 feet high slope.
Kufri, near Shimla is one of the oldest places in India to be associated with skiing and the slopes are still in use during winter. Above Kufri, the Mahasu ridge also has good slopes.
Comprehensive facilities exist at Narkanda, 64 km from Shimla. There is a range of slopes, including a beginer's run, an advanced slope and a slalom run. Himachal Tourism offers ski courses, instruction and has equipment on hire at Narkanda.
At Manali ( Kullu ), the Directorate of Mountaineering and Allied Sports offers a variety of courses and facilities for skiing are possible in the Solang area near Manali. There are also some companies in the private sector that offer ski courses and allied facilities.
ICE - SKATING
The Shimla ice-skating rink has the largest open-air area with naturally frozen ice in this part of the world. The Ice Skating Club has already celebrated its Diamond Jubilee.
Ice-skating normally begins in early December and carries on to February. Clear skies and low temperatures provide series of uninterrupted sessions. There are two sessions every day, in the morning and in the evening.
Membership is available for the season as well as for shorter terms and even for single sessions. Skates are available at the rink.
Fancy dress carnivals, 'gymkhanas' ice-hockey and dances enliven every season.
Riding the warm thermal currents of the air is perhaps the closest man has ever come to sailing the skies as free as a bird. Almost at will, you dip and wheel high over the hills and valleys.
The bald peak of Billing, above the Buddhist monastery of Bir in Kangra , has been the venue for five national and three international hang-gliding rallies since 1984. The site is perfect for para-gliding too. And this sport is a mix of sky-diving and hang-gliding. A fairly recent sport that is steadily gaining popularity, para-gliding is possible at various places in the state. Places where para-gliding is done regularly are - Bundla Dhar near Bilaspur , in the kullu valley and at Intkali in the Pabbar valley near Rohru in Shimla district.
Himachal Tourism sponsors training programmes and events at various times of the year, in different places. There is an Adventure Sports Hostel at Dharamsala (Kangra) and an Aero Sports Complex at Bir. For details of training facilities, contact sports associations or Divisional Tourism Development Officers of Himachal Tourism. ( Paragliding Pre-World Cup - India, 2002 )
An anglers paradise, Himachal has several spots for both trout and mahaseer as well as other fish.
Acclaimed as the best sport fish in the world, both Brown and Rainbow Trout are to be found in Himachal's streams. Upstreams of Rohru in the Pabbar valley ( Shimla ), there are several spots ideal for fishing. Chirgaon has a trout hatchery and other sites are - Seema, Mandil, Sandsu, Tikri and Dhamvari all are within 5 to 25 km of Rohru (Shimla). Kinnaur's Baspa river in the Sangla valley also holds trout. Fish also abounds in Uhl river near Barot. Good spots on this beat are - Luhandi, Puran hatchery, Tikkar and Kamand. The upper reaches of the river Beas in the Kullu valley and its side streams like the Sarvari, Parbati, Sainj, Hurla and Tirthan, especially the areas around Aut, Patlikuhl, Katrain, Raison and Largi are excellent for the sport. These are all upstream of the Pandoh reservoir and are close to, or on the Mandi-Manali highway.
The picturesque Kangra valley has several spots that offer mahaseer river carp. The reservoir of the Maharana Pratap sagar right up to the town of Dehra has good spots. Nadaun along the river Beas has some good beats, besides Chamba Pattan near Garli (accessible from Nadaun or Jwalamukhi), Amtar (2 km from Nadaun), Harsi Pattan (30 km from Tira Sujanpur) and Lambagaon (15 km from Tira Sujanpur).
On the river Giri, Gaura (30 km from Solan on the Rajgarh road) and the beat near Dadahu (5 km from Renuka lake) and the river Yamuna, downstream of Paonta Sahib ( Sirmour ) are good spots for mahaseer.
The waters of the Gobind Sagar near Bilaspur also have a variety of fish.
Fishing fee are nominal. The trout fishing season is from 31 March to 31 October. Generally best months for mahaseer are those that have an 'r' in their spelling - January, February, March, April, September, October, November and December.
WATER AND RIVER SPORTS
The Maharana Pratap Sagar reservoir in Kangra with its 42 km length and 2 km breadth, offers a variety of activities in close collabration with the Directorate of Mountaineering and Allied Sports. Year long activities include swimming, water-skiing, surfing, kayaking, rowing, canoeing and sailing. Three levels of courses are conducted - beginner, intermediate and advanced. Similar activities are also available on the waters of Gobind Sagar near Bilaspur , the Chamera lake near Dalhousie ( Chamba ) and the Pandoh lake on the Mandi- Kullu National Highway.
River-rafting or white-water rafting as it is also called is swiftly making Himachal a focus for the sport. For a torrent of adrenalin to gush through every vein and surge over every muscle you can race over the State's river rapids in an inflatable rubber dinghy. Sport is now being held on the Sutlej near Shimla on the Beas near Kullu, the Ravi near Chamba and Chandra in Lahaul . Possibilities are also being explored on the river Spiti. This sport takes a break during winter and during the monsons.
Himachal Tourism sponsors courses in river rafting and there are operators in the private sector also that offer this experience. ( Register Yourself as River Rafting Operator )
Gear yourself for high adventure with an expedition on cycles. You can pedal your way past high passes or simply make a day-adventure. Quite literally the whole of Himachal is your playground. The tour can be coupled with camping and can be carried on for several weeks over diverse terrain. The lower regions of the State - Kangra, Una, Hamirpur and Bilaspur offer gentle routes. Or you can streach your mind, muscle and stamina to reach out to the Trans Himalyan tract of Lahaul, Spiti and Kinnaur . Milder but no less interesting excursions can be done out at any holiday station.
For the higher regions the summer and automn months are suggested.
By jeep, car or on motorcycle you can explore the variety Himachal has to offer. By jeep, the Trans Himalyan tract can steadily unfold their natural and man made wonders. Along one of the world's highest highways, you can drive out of Manali, cross the Rohtang Pass (3980 m) and move through arid Lahaul , you drive through the haunting landscapes of Spiti and over the Kunzum pass (4551 m), enter Lahaul. Himachal has an extensive network of roads and treks and apart from the routes mentioned above, there are several others you can traverse on. By car, driving over the more demanding routes may not be possible, but in no way does this curtail the range of experience. And motorcycles may impose some limitations, but are again a wonderful way of sharing the wonders of Himachal.
All you have to do is buy a route map, plan your trip and you are on your way.
MOUNTAINEERING AND ROCK CLIMBING
Rock climbing is often seen as the basic stage for mountain climbing. It can also be treated as an independent sport, since it is basically climbing a rock face, using only hands and feet with a safety rope.
The area around Manali, presently forms the core of mountaineering in Himachal. The Beas Kund region and lower reaches of the Hanuman Tibba (5930 m), the Manali and Shitidhar peaks around the source of river Beas and Deo Tibba (6001 m) ( Kullu ) area are suggested for beginners with some experience. The Chandra Bhaga ranges, the Pir Panjal and Dhalaudhar ranges are existing. The State also has several other areas where Institute of Mountaineering and Allied Sports, Manali and its branch at Dharamsala ( Kangra ) offer this activity. Courses are also available with the institute. ( Indian Mountaineering Association )
Himachal also hosts a Winter Festival and Snow Carnival. Tobogganing is possible in winter. Various water sports competitions are also hosted. Especially during the monsoons at Naldera, several golf tournaments are held. Angling and para-gliding competitions are also hosted in the state.
TREKKING - AN EQUIPMENT CHECKLIST
Comfortable walking boots with good grip on ankles. Waterproof warm jacket. Woollen/tennis socks and stockings. Personal toileteries and clothes. Sunglasses, Headgear, Rucksack other bags too if you plan to hire ponies and porters. Water bottle, Swiss army knife, Sleeping bag and foam ground sheet. Gloves, Umbrella, Rope, Medical and first aid equipment.