Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association Stadium, Dharamsala
With snow-capped mountains as a backdrop, the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HPCA) Stadium in Dharamsala can claim to be the most picturesque cricket ground in India. One of the newest venues in the country, the stadium is situated about 1457 metres above sea level.
The ground made it to the international cricket map in 2005 when it hosted a warm-up tie between the touring Pakistan team and the Indian Board President’s XI. Since then, the HPCA Stadium has played host to a few of Himachal Pradesh’s home matches in the Ranji Trophy, apart from hosting a few zonal one-day matches.
With pleasant temperatures in the summer, a lush green outfield and great facilities at the stadium, the HPCA Stadium is also used by the National Cricket Academy for its zonal cricket camps.
Thanks to the good outfield and pitch, Dav Whatmore, former Director (Operations) of the National Cricket Academy and current Kolkata Knight Riders coach, had recommended that it was fit to host one-day internationals. The stadium will be used by the Kings XI Punjab for some of their home games in IPL 2011.
Dharamsala is a hill station in Himachal Pradesh, famed for its large Tibetan community. It is the home of the spiritual leader of the Tibetans, the Dalai Lama. With lush green terrain and magnificent peaks, Dharamsala, is truly a traveller’s paradise. One is struck not just by the natural splendour of the place, but also the cultural diversity here. Popularly known as the Little Lhasa of India, Dharamsala is evocative of India’s old colonial past.
While in Dharamsala, you can’t miss out on a trip to McLeod Ganj and Forsyth Ganj. Check out the serene statue of Lord Buddha in the Buddhist temple in Dharamsala. The Tsuglagkhang Complex on Temple road is the largest Tibetan temple outside Tibet, and it has a large meditation hall containing some beautiful statues and thangkas, as well as a Kalachakra temple with beautiful murals. It is the monastery of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and is located just in front of his residence.
The bazaar here is teeming with Tibetans and their crafts ware. One can bargain hunt at the street stalls for Tibetan items like woollen shawls, prayer flags, prayer wheels, thangka and mandala paintings, Tibetan jewellery and trinkets. The hand-made singing bowls are very easy to play and used for sound healing, music therapy or just to relax.
Culture and Entertainment
The abode of Tibetans, Mcleodganj, near Dharamsala is a hub of Buddhist activities. The Buddha temple situated opposite the abode of the Dalai Lama is worth a visit. The Tibetan Institute of performing Arts (TIPA) is just a one km walk from McLeodganj and preserves a number of musical dance and theatrical traditions of Tibet. It holds an annual 10-day folk opera commencing on the second Saturday of April. There is also a Tibetan handicraft centre situated at McLeodganj and a Sunday market is organised at a 10 minute walk from there.
The market in Dharamsala and McLeodganj has a string of restaurants. Check out their scrumptious momos and ‘thukpa’. Also try the ‘thenthuk’, thukpa made with handmade noodles and ‘pocha’ – salty tea churned with butter, a Tibetan staple. Check out the Namgyal Cafe, situated in Dalai Lama’s main temple & monastery. The pizza is regarded as the best in town. The Green Hotel on Bhagsu Road is very popular and many claim it has the best breakfast in town. Also visit Momo Cafe for scrumptious momos.