Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association Stadium (map it)
Civil Lines Rd, Jawahar Nagar
Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh 176215
Year Opened: 2003
There are no tickets available at this time.
Official Review by Gary Butterworth, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
If you’re travelling to Dharamshala or McLeod Ganj, India, chances are that you’re there to see the Dalai Lama. But when His Holiness wants to see cricket, he heads down the mountain to Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association Stadium. Situated in the Dhauladhar range of the Himalayas, HPCA ground has been dubbed as “the most beautiful ground in India” by cricket mega-site cricinfo. But the stadium’s strengths are also its weaknesses.
The ground’s altitude of 4,300 feet (1,300m) tempts the sixes to fly majestically into the mountains, but it also frequently offers enough fog to kill the views. The hills offer peace and tranquility, but the journey to the ground from other cities is anything but peaceful. As a result, the stadium is relatively under-utilized. The decade-plus-old HPCA Stadium serves as the second home to the IPL’s King’s XI from the neighboring state of Punjab, but is still awaiting its first test match. ODIs are also in short supply.
Still, when all of the pieces come together, HPCA Stadium has the potential to be nothing short of a magical venue and is well worth a look for anyone in the area.
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As stadium enthusiasts, one thing we learned long ago was that you just need to show up. No ticket to the event? Show up. You might find a way in. In a new city, but there is no event going on? Show up at the stadium anyway. Chance are pretty good that you might find a way to at least take a peek inside the stadium. On an off day, we're usually the only ones snooping around, snapping photos, and checking for unlocked gates.
When we arrived at HPCA Stadium on a non-event day, we were hoping to find a way inside. We never expected a crowd of 50+ others with the same idea. This was, by far, the biggest random encounter of stadium aficionados that we have ever stumbled upon. Our visit was on a holiday weekend, so that may partially explain the crowd. But with such passion for a venue on a quiet day, we can only imagine the potential for a match-day atmosphere.
McLeod Ganj, or "Upper Dharamsala" has been described as a "backpacker ghetto." While that may be an exaggeration, it's no secret that the area around the Dalai Lama's temple has become Tourist Central. Further down the mountain in Lower Dharamsala, you'll find more of a mix of tourists, Tibetan settlers, and average Indians. HPCA Stadium is even further down, just past the lower fringe of the tourist trail. Less English is spoken here, and the area is more "local." While this could present minor transportation headaches to those visiting the area, this may be offset by the peace offered by getting off of the tourist trail.
For high-profile matches, parking could be a potentially serious issue. Taxis are plentiful and inexpensive in the area, but still could be overrun in the event of a large match. Local public buses exist, but the system can be difficult for foreigners to figure out. Nearly all hotels are essentially unwalkable from the venue.
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