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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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-
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.
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.
Why not have fun and be a part of enjoying crowd.
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.
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.
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.
Cheer girls gave more joy to the crowd than the players.
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.
Gilchrist was adjudged man of 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!!!