Joy of IPL Cricket at Dharamshala (Himachal Pradesh)!!!

Why Go To Dharamshala:

Weather, Dhauladhars, Triund, Mcleod Ganj, Bhagsunath, Dharamkot, Naddi….The Dalai Lama, Tibetan Govt in Exile, Winter Capital, Cricket Stadium!!!

How to Reach:

By Road: 18 km from Kangra, 90 km from Pathankot, 130 km from Mandi

By Air: Gaggal Airport (15 km)

By Train: Chamunda Marg Railway Station (23 km)

Elevation: 1457 m (4780 ft)

Date of Travel: 16th May 2012

Its been enough watching cricket on tv. I longed to see a cricket match live in a stadium. Ever Since stadium was built up in Dharamshala I was looking for an opportunity to be there as Dharamshala happen to be my favourite hill station. IPL (Indian Premier League Season V) match was scheduled to be played between Kings XI Punjab and Chennai Super Kings on 17th May 2012. Since I took VRS from the bank a year ago, I did not have leave related difficulty this time.

I have travelled to Dharamshala many times in the past, on bike, on car but never on bus. This time I thought why not  have a different experience.  So took HRTC (Himachal Road Transport Corporation) Bus at 1.30 afternoon from Ludhiana. Enjoyed the journey throughout as I was not driving and for a change had nothing to do except watch everything happening around me.

HRTC bus from Ludhiana to Dharamshala.
HRTC bus from Ludhiana to Dharamshala.

The journey upto Hoshiarpur via Phagwara was just a routine. From Chohal dam, 20 km from Hoshiarpur, Punjab plains give way to lower shivalik hills. This is a popular route for people who head for Mata Chintpurni, Kangra Devi, Jwala Ji, Chamunda Devi, Dera Vadbhag Singh and Baba Balaknath.

Photo2146
Bus ride to Dharamshala

From Mubarikpur, road to the right lead to Dera Vadbhag Singh, popular place for people of Punjab. The road to the left left leads to Talwara (Pong Dam, Pratap Sagar Lake). Soon we were at Bharwain. Here Mata Chintpurni temple is just 2 km to the left. A few kilometers later we descended on a bridge at Dehra Gopipur built on beautiful river Sutlej. Just after crossing the bridge the road to right lead to Jwalaji temple.

Soon our bus was in beautiful Kangra valley. The journey was now through lush green valley. Mighty snow clad Dhauladhar range was visible now. The road crisscrosses Kangra rail trek and bridges at many places. There is a small tunnel as well. Crossing Ranital, Kangra and Mataur we reached Dharamshala at 7.30 pm after completing  a journey of 200 km in 6 hours and in 200- Rupees. From Dharamsala I took another bus and reached Mcleodganj at 9.00 pm.

Mcleod ganj
Well Lit and busy Mcleod ganj at Night

The atmosphere at Mcleod ganj was very lively. I have never seen people from so many different backgrounds and countries at one place in Northern India except here. This time it was even more lively due to IPL cricket match. Suddenly, there was huge cheering. The entire Kings XI Punjab team was dining at Maclow restaurant and the crowd was waiting for the players to come out. The appearance of Shaun Marsh and Gilchrist alighting from the stairs of Maclow restaurant confirmed it. We have been watching them on TV for so many years. It was a wonderful feeling watching and meeting them in person.

Buzzing Maclow chowk Mcleodganj
Buzzing Maclow chowk Mcleodganj
Mcleod ganj
Mcleod ganj
Mcleod ganj
Team gone to hotel room……crowd thinning at Mcleod ganj chowk.

Spent the rest of the late night walking and roaming in the streets of Mcleodganj. Took some drinks, had my dinner and slept in a little unknown guest house thinking about exciting day coming up the day after.

———————————————————————————————————————————————————–

17th May 2012

Got up and walked to Maclow chowk at 5.30 in the morning. The scene was very different to last night. It was cool, calm and soothing. Mountains looked dark green with sky changing colour every minute.

I was lucky to find a tibetan gentleman waiting for early morning walkers to serve tea and bread. Had two cups of tea with toast. Ha pleasant morning walk to Bhagsu Nag. There are lots of hotels in Bhagsu but I was looking for something different. Crossed the entire Bhagsu Bazar, reached Upper Bhagsu and found a lovely little peaceful place for stay.

Dharamshala, going towards cricket stadium.
Dharamshala….road to cricket stadium.

The match was to start at 4pm. So I had some time. Stayed back in my room for a while, took breakfast and walked back to Mcleod ganj chowk. From Mcleod ganj took a shared taxi for Dharamsala. Walked to the stadium box office and bought one ticket for Rs.800-

Dharamshala Cricket Stadium
Dharamshala Cricket Stadium

I did not face any problem in buying ticket. Walked around the stadium and saw many excited faces. There were huge security arrangements. Many roads were marked or closed. The entry to the stadium was from many gates and the gate number was mentioned on the ticket. Parking places were also marked. Slowly crowd started building up. There were lot of hawkers selling cricket merchandise.

Merchandise at Dharamshala Cricket Stadium
Merchandise at Dharamshala Cricket Stadium
Got confused which team to support CSK for Dhoni.
Got confused which team to support……CSK for Dhoni.

There were so many players in the Chennai Super Kings team which I liked. Being a Punjabi, how could I not support Kings XI Punjab. I thought I will support both the teams at the start and will shift support to the team which will be fighting to win from a losing situation. So got both my cheeks painted….on one side CSK and on the other KXIP.

or KXIP being a Punjabi
or KXIP being a Punjabi

Why not have fun and be a part of enjoying crowd.

Let me bigul for both teams
Let me bigul for both teams
Lets cheer IPL
Lets cheer for the heck of it
A fan of Kings XI Punjab
Fan of Kings XI Punjab
Line up for entry to the stadium
Line up for entry to the stadium
Entry gate no.9
Entry gate no.9
First look inside the stadium
First look inside the stadium

First look at the stadium and I fell in love with it. Lush green oval ground with bright red members building. Bright colourful freshly laid seats and galleries for spectators, digital scoreboards, large TV screens, podium for bands, cheer girls and much more.

HPCA (Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association) Stadium is one of the most beautiful stadiums in the world with altitude of around 5000 ft from sea level and amazing snow capped Dhauladhar mountain range in the background. The pitch here is also considered to be one of the fastest in India.

Match is yet to start
Match yet to start
Stadium is full, match is about to start
Stadium full………match about to start
Match is just about to start
Match……….just about to start

A word about the crowd. The crowd behaviour was really bad. I saw people pushing, scolding and unruly towards each other. I saw them using vulgar, filthy language towards players and each other. Many of them were uncivilized and were using language I had never heard in my life before. I could never believe people behaving like this shamelessly even in the presence of police, children, elders and ladies.

For this reason I have decided never to go to any place in North India where such huge crowd was present.

Chennai is batting first
Chennai………..batting first

Kings XI Punjab won the toss and put Chennai to bat. Chennai did not play well and could muster only120 runs in 20 overs. Bravo played well and made 48 runs. Dhoni and Raina disappointed the crowd.

Awana was the most impressive bowler from Punjab. He took two wickets. He was very fast and economical too.

Chennai exrtras
Chennai exrtras

Cheer girls gave more joy to the crowd than the players.

The most exciting part, cheergirls
The most exciting part…..cheergirls
Cheergirls supporting Chennai
Chennai Supporting Cheergirls
Enjoying the match
Enjoying the match
Punjab Batting
Punjab Batting

Punjab batted very well and won the match easily. Most of the runs were scored by Adam Gilchrist (64). Mandeep (24) was also very impressive.

Lights are on, Punjab is batting
Lights on………..Punjab batting
Punjab won the match
Punjab won the match

Gilchrist was adjudged man of the match.

Last rites
Stadium looked even more beautiful under lights
Photo2289
Last Rites
view of the stadium after the match
stadium after the match

All in all had a very eventful day. In the end a little disappointing. Such a beautiful stadium, amazing surroundings, wonderful atmosphere, great cricketers and a very very unruly and disappointing crowd.

I was wondering do we deserve good things in life.

———————————————————————————————————————————————————–

18th May 2012

Woke up to a lovely morning in Upper Bhagsu. The room I stayed in, was a part of eight room guest house with no name. Most of the people staying in the guest house, were budget foreign travellers who stay here for longer periods. The guest house was surrounded by few buildings and rhododendron trees in between. It is built on a small hill and sound of a little stream flowing by can be heard from the balcony.

my no name guest house
no name guest house
view of upper bhagsu
upper bhagsu

Lazed around a little, took breakfast from Om Star restaurant nearby. Soon I left the place with a wish to come back and stay here for a longer period.

Photo2301
Breakfast
Om Star Upper Bhagsu
Om Star Upper Bhagsu
The restaurant man
The Man running the restaurant
Leaving Bhagsu
Leaving Bhagsu

Walked down to Bhagsu and then to Mcleod ganj. Took a shared taxi for Dharamshala and then a bus to Kangra. From Kangra took a bus for Kangra railway station road and then walked down to Kangra railway station.

There was some time left for the train to come. I walked upto the road again and had a nice himachali thali at a dhaba @40/- with kadi, rajma, dal, chawal, roti and salad.

Kangra railway station
Kangra railway station

Bought ticket upto Pathankot for 15- Rupees. The train from Jogindernagar arrived at 4.45pm and we were on our way to Pathankot. Train was full with local passengers.

Kangra valley railway was commissioned in 1929. It runs a distance of 164 km from Pathankot to Jogindernagar. It passes through some of the most spectacular mountain scenery in the world. The journey on the Kangra rail is slow, time consuming  and very cheap. So far, only passenger trains are allowed on this trek, which stops at almost all the stations enroute.

Kangra
Kangra Road Railway Station
kangra
The Train appears
Kangra rail
Its nearer now
Kangra
Just before leaving

Could not take many pictures thereafter. Chatted with many co-passengers. I liked their simplicity, lifestyle and honesty. The train stopped at almost all the stations Jwalamukhi Road being the most crowded one. The train passed through beautiful terrain and I wished I could have boarded a morning train. The journey along the Maharana Pratap Lake was perhaps the best one.

Jawalamukhi road
Jwalamukhi Road
Google map of the route from Ludhiana to Dharamsala.

 

Reached Pathankot at 9.30pm, a distance of 98 km in 4.45 hours. From Pathankot took auto for Chakki bank railway station. At chakki bank railway station Sealdah Express was ready for departure. Took the train. Played antakshari with co- passengers. Most of these passengers were from Najibabad area of Uttar Pradesh and were retruning from Anantnag (Kashmir). We got lost in Antakshari so much that we never knew when the train reached Ludhiana junction. It was 1.50am. Got down, walked a little and luckily got at auto for home. Reached home at 3am in the morning. My wife had prepared Kadi chawal. Could not resist temptation. Oh! my god, how yummy they were. Had heart full of them. Went to sleep at 4am….dreaming about my next journey to Himalayas!!!

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