Boarded for flightAt a small walled-in enclosure in Dhalko, an earshot from the Bishnumati River, half a dozen kids are busy skating up and down a half-pipe ramp.
At a small walled-in enclosure in Dhalko, an earshot from the Bishnumati River, half a dozen kids are busy skating up and down a half-pipe ramp.
For years, these budding skateboarders had no other option but to skate on Kathmandu’s pot-holed and lawless streets, fully aware that their safety hinged not just on their control over their boards, but also on the oftentimes erratic drivers and bikers plying the streets.
It’s been a long wait, but finally, Kathmandu’s skateboarders have their first home.
Ujwol Dongol, the 26-year-old skateboard entrepreneur and the man behind the park, watches over the young boarders, occasionally warning the adventurous ones not to attempt skills they’re not capable of performing.
Dongol, an avid skateboarder himself, had a minor accident two years ago that has by and large limited his time on the ramp. Now, he splits his time between his skateboard outlet—Hamro Skateshop—and mentoring aspiring boarders at Kathmandu’s only skate ramp—KTM Skate Park.
For the kids themselves, the KTM Skate Park has come as a blessing in more than just one way. In addition to having a safe, nurturing environment where they can skate to their heart’s content, they’ve also found a community of like-minded boarders who they compete and collude with each day.
And with the mentorship provided at the ramp, skating accidents have plummeted.
Since opening in 2016, Skatemandu has also inspired another skateboard park—the Annapurna Skateboard Park—in Pokhara and with more and more kids taking to the sport, Nepal’s skateboarding community is now growing each year.
Over the past year, Nepali skaters have even partaken in competitions in Thailand, China and India.
To the question: What is the end goal? Dangol easily replies, “To produce world-class skaters, of course.” But for now, he seems content in having played his part in taking skateboarding away from street curbs and into its new, bustling home.
Text and Photos: Sanjog Manandhar