Stretching from Kashmir in northern India, eastwards across Nepal and Tibet, and all the way to Arunachal Pradesh, the Himalayas are an awe-inspiring mountain range spreading across 2,400 kilometers and five countries.
For the global basketball community, the Himalayas also afford some breathtaking courts against a stunning backdrop of snow-clad peaks and mesmerizing valleys. These courts are located within restricted military bases, private and government schools and protected wildlife sanctuaries.
Many of these courts get snowed in during winter and become inaccessible to the outside world. However come spring, these courts burst back into life, just like their verdant surroundings. So, if you are in search of ‘hoops nirvana’, then here are ten picturesque Himalayan basketball courts spread across India and Nepal:
#1 Nubra Valley, Ladakh
This other-worldly court is not on a distant planet – nor in Greenland or Iceland for that matter! – but in Nubra Valley, Ladakh. Ladakh is a Union Territory in northern India bordering Tibet Autonomous Region (East), Pakistan, Jammu & Kashmir (both in the West) and Himachal Pradesh (South).
This court is situated inside a restricted military base. If you are a foreign citizen, the entire Nubra Valley is accessible only upon securing a ‘Protected Area Permit’. Indian citizens, on the other hand, are required to get an Inner Line Permit.
Just seeing this picture send chills down my spine, as I can almost feel the cold, oxygen depleted air of the world’s highest Tibetan plateau billowing against me in strong gusts. If Christopher Nolan ever decides to make an interstellar basketball movie, this court could well be the featured location.
#2 Gorton Mission School, Kotgarh, Shimla, Himachal Pradesh
Moving south from Ladakh, via the Leh-Manali highway, we enter the state of Himachal Pradesh, which literally means ‘snow laden province’.
This quaint court nestled in the woods, surrounded by pine trees is the perfect place for young ballers to work on their ISO games in solitude. It is situated within the Gorton Mission School premises in Kotgarh village, 82 kilometers away from the popular hill-station of Shimla, Himachal Pradesh’s capital city.
#3 Chitkul, Kinnaur District, Himachal Pradesh
Continuing eastwards, we have now reached the border between India and China. This basketball court in Chitkul gets covered under a few feet of snow, every winter. This town is also said to have the cleanest air across the whole of India!
#4 Ghorepani, Myagdi District, Dhaulagiri Zone
From Himachal Pradesh in India, it is time to crossover to Nepal via Uttarakhand.
No, this is not a doctored image. Far from it! This postcard-esque court is located inside the Annapurna Conversation Area, and as per Wikipedia, requires a National Park Permit to visit.
Ghorepani village is at an elevation of nearly 3000 meters, and from this picture, we can clearly see why areas like this need to be protected.
#5 Chhomrong, Ghandruk, Kaski District
Also situated in the Annapurna region, this court is surrounded by steep mountains emphasizing the might and intimidating stature of the Himalayas. I’m sure those who ball here in the shadow of these mountains constantly feel her power and majesty, an excellent reminder in humility!
#6 Dhampus, Kaski District
Located in Kaski District of north-central Nepal, Dhampus boasts of panoramic views of Annapurna towering at 8091 meters making it the 10th highest peak in the world, Dhaulagiri looming at 8167 meters gaining the spot of the 7th highest peak in the world, and Machhapuchhre at 6993 meters.
This may not be a dunk friendly rim, but it will definitely make you a better shooter, as every air ball or rimmed shot runs the risk of hurtling down the steep mountainous slopes.
#7 Modi Village, Parbat District
From three courts in the Annapurna Conservation Area in north-central Nepal, we now move south within the Gandaki Province to Parbat District.
This court in Modi Village is said to be the first fiber board in the entire Parbat District and it is the fourth smallest among the 77 districts of Nepal!
#8 Pangboche, Solukhumbu District
We continue eastwards, to Nepal’s Easternmost Province, known simply as ‘Province No 1’. This Province is home to two of the top three tallest mountains in the world with Mt. Everest standing at 8848 meters and Kanchenjunga at 8586 meters.
Situated on the Everest Base Camp Trek route is the village of Pangboche. At an elevation of 3985 meters, this village is part of the Solukhumbu District in the Khumbu subregion of the Sagarmatha National Park zone.
This may be just a makeshift hoop, but with the majestic Mt. Ama Dablam soaring upwards at a height of 6812 meters in the background, Pangboche is a must-stop shootaround venue for any baller en route to the Everest base camp.
#9 Ekalavya Model Residential School, Gangyap, Tashiding, West District, Sikkim
Crossing over from eastern Nepal back into India, we enter the erstwhile Kingdom of Sikkim, that was admitted into the Indian Union in 1975, becoming the last major region to merge with India. Gangyap is a small tribal hamlet that came into national prominence thanks to the girls’ basketball team at the Ekalavya Model Residential School. They defied the odds and were crowned back to back National School Champions. An inspirational tale of triumph befitting the natural splendor of the court’s location.
#10 Khaprail, Matigara, Darjeeling District, West Bengal
Lower down from Sikkim, in the ‘Lesser Himalayan’ range, is the village of Khaprail, 10 kilometers away from nearest town, Siliguri.
This outdoor court is located within an Army Cantonment, and we can see the hill-stations of Kurseong and Darjeeling in the backdrop, against a cloudy blue sky. Darjeeling is among India’s most popular hill-stations and was once the summer escape for the erstwhile ‘British Raj’. Even today, Darjeeling is renowned for its premium quality tea plantations.
Disclaimer: This list is in no way exhaustive as there are dozens of other basketball courts straddled across the 2400-kilometer-wide Himalayan range. Also not included in this list are Uttarakhand, Bhutan, the Tibet Autonomous Region and Arunachal Pradesh, which are sure to have many picturesque courts of their own.
I would like to especially thank the Instagram page Nepal Basketball League, for all of the Nepal images used in this article, as well as the Instagram page Courts of India, The Vibe & Instagram page Siliguri Ballers, for all the Indian basketball courts featured in this article.
Article by Ekalavyas, India’s leading basketball media company. Follow them on Instagram at @ekalavyas