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Naldehra Golf Course – Lush Greens and Blue Skies

Wednesday, July 20, 2016Me! In words

If there is one place that can take your breath away at every hair-pin bend, it is Shimla. This hill station has long been the refuge of those seeking to get away from it all. In fact, more than a century ago, it was the summer capital of the members of the British Raj as also a holiday destination, perhaps for the fact that the verdant location reminded them of home.

Today, Shimla offers its visitors a host of facilities and attractions that ensure multiple visits are in order. From landscapes that promise never-ending views of the lower ranges of the Himalayas to snow-capped peaks, to endless rows of deodar (Himalayan Oak), oak and rhododendron, Shimla’s peek-a-boo streams and lush fields can hold a magical sway. If you are visiting here with your family, like I did, you will never run out of sights to keep the young ones amazed. One interesting place we headed to was the Naldehra Golf Course, which at one time was the highest placed course in the country.

Picture-perfect Naldehra

Nestled, not too deep in this picture postcard serenity is the Naldehra Golf Course – perhaps a secret that has been well kept for a while now. Placed 22km away from Shimla and at a majestic height of 2200 metres above sea level, the golf course has one of the most picturesque settings to tee off that you can ever imagine. 

History tells us that the Naldehra Golf Course was born out of the immense love that Lord Curzon, the Viceroy of India in 1905 had for the place. Naldehra was often a place he would come to for days on end, whenever the opportunity presented itself. In fact, his third daughter was believed to have been conceived here and hence the name Lady Alexandra Naldera Curzon was bestowed on her.

The Naldehra Golf Course has several exciting features for a golfing enthusiast as well as a tourist. The second oldest in the country, after the Royal Calcutta Golf Club (1829) in Kolkata, Naldehra’s high altitude presents no hindrance to the game, the landscape or your ability to tee off comfortably. “What you do feel is rejuvenated, says Brigadier B. S Kanwar (retd), the Captain of the Naldehra Golf Club when we visited. “There is no sense of claustrophobia thanks to the scores of pine trees, the pollution-free atmosphere and the European touch of rolling country and small mounts to gaze on.”

A Challenging Course

Cloaked by a thick blanket of Deodar trees is a par 68, 18-hole golf course with 16 greens and 18 tees. It has been created over an extensive sloping glade and presents some interesting challenges to visiting golfers. The course was originally conceptualized as a 9-hole course, but over time, the management felt the need to create a more challenging and diverse course. A similar set of 9-holes was relayed with a few more greens and tee-off points. All this was done without changing the natural landscape of the course. 

Some sights below of the course and the routes it takes

Today, a round of golf here ensures that a player has a visually breathtaking scene to gaze on, while having the chance to explore a course that is quite literally, like no other around. Though not an extremely long course, what you may definitely look forward to are the tall pine trees, elevated greens and sharp slopes that characterize the course. The course may also prove to be a small test in endurance as every hole has an out-of-bounds, providing an interesting day at the greens for an avid golfer. 

The Naldehra Golf Course also has something for those not too keen on the golfing aspect. Horse rides going uphill are aplenty and after a little haggling you will get the price of your choice and a horse as well. We paid around Rs 200 per pony for the children. They were taken up the hill, a not around the course and back. A 20 minute ride in all. A little away from the course are opportunities for impromptu picnics and get-together with friends. Shacks around the space ensure food and drink are not too far away. Season time may see the place packed though, especially since you cannot get on to the golf course without a membership. You may also find something beautiful at the Kashmiri outlet at the entrance of the course –take your pick from shawls, stoles, carpets and more here.

The Naldehra Golf Course is best visited between April and October, with the ideal golfing months being during the monsoons from July to September. The turf is amazingly springy and lush, making for a great game. To see the place in its prime, you may want to visit during the Koti Cup – an annual tradition that is usually held in October.

Resorts around Naldehra

Koti Resorts: We stayed at Koti Resorts, a review of which you can read here. Situated less than half a kilometre away from Naldehra Golf Course, this resort has a charming Swiss Chalet style of architecture. The rooms here overlook a valley and give you a spectacular view of the mountains come rain, snow or bright sunshine. A scenic walk to the golf course is perhaps the best way to step onto the greens for an enjoyable day. At the end of the day, retire to a room with an in-built Jacuzzi or relax with your family around a bonfire.

The Woodstock Resort: Located just 250 meters away from the golf course, this resort is a quaint 14-room set-up with charming wooden interiors. The bright green gates welcome you into an oasis of calm and serenity. If a day at the greens doesn’t appeal to you, sitting back here and relaxing definitely will.

The Chalets: Less than a kilometre away from Naldehra Golf Course, this hospitality unit offers you the best of independent apartments as well as chalets and rooms. Outfitted with every conceivable modern amenity, you are sure to have a peaceful time during your stay here. Set against a background of the Himalayas, many a visitor has climbed up into the cosy attics of the chalet’s to take in its majestic beauty. The revolving restaurant too has quite a draw.

Whistling Pines: This is a majestic resort that is set at the foot of Craigano Hills, not too far from Naldehra Golf Course. Despite its towering presence, it has left the lushness of nature around it rather untouched. The rooms offer views of apple orchards and endless cedar and pine forests. A luxurious space to retire to at the end of a day on the greens.

Disclaimer: This trip to Shimla was sponsored by Koti Resorts. The views expressed are personal and unbiased

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