Annandale: A Beautiful Shimla Secret

An oasis of peace, away from the touristy spots.

By Aanchal Ahuja

Over a million people visit Shimla every year, but very few know about Annandale. It’s a golf course that sits just five kilometres from the bustling Ridge. And it is a slice of paradise.

Located by the tiny village of Kaithu, Annandale stretches over 30 luxurious acres. A British officer Capt. Charles Pratt Kennedy named it after a beautiful young girl called Anna. Combined with “dale,” which means “valley,” the place came to be called Annadale. (The extra ‘n’ in the current spelling is a local corruption!)

Another story goes thus: The region in which Annadale is located was first documented in 1834, in the East Indian United Service Journal. When British officers saw the area for the first time, they found it similar to the Annandale valley in Dumfriesshire or County of Dumfries in Scotland, and decided to name it after the Scottish location because most of the officers hailed from the Scotland’s Annandale.

Whatever the true story, do check out Annandale the next time you go to Shimla. Set aside about three hours to visit, including travel time. You can take a direct cab or catch a local bus from the Vidhan Sabha building, which drops you right at the gates of the Course. If you have the time and stamina, hike up–the walk is beautiful but you’ll need a couple of extra hours.

At the gate, irony hits you when a rifle-toting soldier ushers you into a haven of peace. Step in, and your eyes will widen as they take in the flowers flanking the footpath. So many of them, in such vivid colours!

annandale museum

The flower-laden path leads you to the Army Heritage Museum, which houses mementos and memories of the soldierly life. The uniforms they wear, the arms that they use and the music that they make–it’s a quick and fascinating glimpse into military history; no classroom required!

Wait, there’s more. A quick flight of stairs beside the Museum takes you to the award-winning Glass House. Be careful in there: this is a prickly affair! Dozens of cacti bloom here, and some have quirky names. Click “Mother-in-law’s-Cushion,” and show it to your mother- in-law.

The Museum is open from 10 am till 5pm and closed on Mondays.

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