For sheer geographical diversity, few places in the world are as richly endowed as Himachal Pradesh is. Low rolling hills, just a couple of hundred meters above sea level, climb on to touch the core of the Himalaya mountains. There are day-hikes by the thousand –while trek routes follow trails that can last a couple of days and can extend to a few weeks. You can enjoy a complete range of water sports such as boating, swimming, and river rafting. There is numerous adventure tourism activities such as, mountaineering, rappelling, rock climbing and winter sports such as skiing, Heli- skiing and ice skating. All you have to do is just make up your mind and select your own activity. No special training is required for most of the activities and age is no real consideration. All you need is a reasonable level of fitness. Himachal has a niche of sport and adventure for everyone.
23 kilometers from Shimla, on a spur that extends from the Kufri massif, the Naldehra golf course has been in existence since the early twentieth century. It owes its existence to Lord Curzon, the British Viceroy of India who fell in love with the spot and often camped here for days. He was so enchanted by the spot, that he even named his daughter ‘Naldehra’ after the place. The Naldehra course is regarded as one of the most challenging ones in the country.
Annadale, in Shimla has a nine hole golf course managed by the Indian Army, and there is another at the exquisite glade of Khajjiar in district Chamba. Other golf courses are also coming up in other parts of the state.
Hiking and Trekking:
Just about every destination in Himachal offers the possibility of Day hikes where you may leave in the morning and return by the evening. Shorter walks are also possible in practically everywhere. These may not require the elaborate gear of longer treks but certain basic things must be kept in mind. Where required, it is also suggested that services of a guide be engaged.
Himachal’s main trekking areas are the Dhauladhars and Pir Panjal Ranges, routes over the passes between Shimla region and the Kullu Valley, the numerous treks out of Kullu and selected tracks in the Trans-Himalayan regions of Kinnaur, Lahaul and Spiti. There are several agencies that conduct treks and may be contacted for complete trekking packages. Training facilities with basic-intermediate courses are available at Atal Bihari Vajpayee Institute of Mountaineering and Allied Sports, Manali. Guides, equipment, porters and maps are available at the starting points of most treks. It is advisable to carry the torch, batteries, water bottles, sleeping bags, ropes, medical aid kit, cooking equipment, food, and ration while starting your trek.
Camping is perhaps one of the easiest ways of enjoying the wonders that nature has given Himachal and sharing in the warm hospitality of its people. You may carry your own gear and pitch your own camp or opt for any organized camps that lie across the state. The organized camps are available near Shimla, in the Kullu-Manali region, around Narkanda, in Kinnaur. In Lahaul and Spiti as well as in several other places.
Himachal is considered to have among the best ‘Power snows’ available in the world and gives the state a considerable edge in the sport. For sheer high mountain thrills perhaps nothing can surpass the magic of heli-skiing. The sport is immediately available in the area bound by the Hanuman Tibba, Rohtang Pass, Deo Tibba and the Chanderkhani Pass near the famous hill station, Manali. A major feature is a compactness of this 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 despite climatic changes, these slopes are still in use. Comprehensive facilities exist at Narkanda, 65kms from Shimla. There is a range of slopes including a beginner’s run, an advanced slope, and a salom run. Encircled by some of the most stunning scenic landscapes in the world, the town of Manali is a major focus of the sport. At Manali, some companies in the private sector also offer skiing courses and facilities.
The Shimla Ice skating rink is the largest open air rink in the world . Skating normally starts in early December and continues into February. There are two sessions a day – one in the morning and the another in the evening. Special events like the fancy dress carnival and the gymkhana enliven the season. The skates can be hired for the season and are subject to availability.
The bald peak of Billing is considered to be among the best sites in the world for paragliding. This has been the venue for national and international events.Himachal government has even hosted the Pre-World Cup events here. Other places where the sport is possible are Bundla Dhar near Bilaspur and at Intakali in the Pabbar Valley near Rohru.
Himachal has emerged as the major focus for river-rafting. River rafting is available on the River Satluj at Tattapaani, on the Beas river near Kullu. Non swimmers and novices can also experience this on some of the gentler rapids. The sport takes a break during winter months and in portions of the monsoon.
We hope that there will be the joy of discovery as you travel to these places. There is a lot more which this beautiful hill state has to offer.