Sawai Mansingh Stadium, Jaipur
The Sawai Mansingh Stadium, or SMS as it is referred to in local cricketing circles, is a modern construction in the heritage city of Jaipur.
Famously remembered for hosting Former Pakistan President General Zia-ul-Haq, who crossed across the border to witness a Test match between India and Pakistan, and for MS Dhoni’s swashbuckling 183* against Sri Lanka, the venue was built during the days of Maharaja Sawai Mansingh II.
The Sawai Mansingh Stadium was renovated recently to transform it to a world-class sports facility in a city that boasts of ancient palaces, forts and the like. Apart from spacious dressing rooms, the stadium now houses good facilities for players and spectators alike, good practice pitches and a lush-green square. A cricket academy adjacent to the ground acts as a breeding ground for the next generation of cricketers from the city.
After a period of lull (it did not host any international cricket between 1999 and 2005), the stadium is back on the cricketing map. It hosted six matches during the 2006 ICC Champions Trophy, and subsequently hosted a One-Day International between India and Pakistan in 2007.
It is also home to the Rajasthan Royals who won all the seven matches they played there in their run to the title in the inaugural season of the Indian Premier League.
Jaipur was built in the eighteenth century by Sawai Jai Singh as India’s first planned city. Jaipur’s several Rajput forts are a major tourist attraction. Called the Pink City in reference to its distinctly coloured buildings, this city retains its links to its glorious past.
There are numerous forts in the region like Amber Fort, 11 kms from central Jaipur. The main attraction in the fort include the Sheesh Mahal, adorned with thousands on thousands of mirror tiles on the walls and ceiling. Then there is Jaigarh Fort. Never conquered in battle, it is best known as the site of the world’s largest cannon, the Jaivana.
Don’t miss a trip to the City Palace, a vast palace complex occupying nearly one-seventh of the old Pink City. Jaipur’s most distinctive landmark, Hawa Mahal, has to be seen to be believed. It is a remarkable, delicately honeycombed pink-sandstone structure.
If you are looking to buy new shoes walk to Mojari in Ashok Nagar. Mojari, a UN-supported project that helps 3500 rural leatherworkers’ households, sells fabulous shoes. Browse through shops in Nehru Bazaar, which extends between Chaura Rasta and Kishanpol Bazaar. Brightly coloured fabrics, camelskin shoes and perfumes make this area perfect for tourists. For iron trinkets and metal souvenirs check out Tripolia Bazaar in the old city area. Tucked away to the right is Maniharon ka Rasta, the domain of the lac (resin) bangle makers.
Culture and Entertainment
Explore the cultural aspects of the city while in the city for the IPL matches. Visit the Museum of Indology, an extraordinary private collection of folk-art objects. Then there is the Birla Lakshmi Narayan Temple for the devout.
Gorge on some Rajasthani delicacies while you are in the city. There are two excellent choices to enjoy local cuisine: Chokhi Dhani & Apno Gaon. Chokhi Dhani is near the airport and has various other entertaining activities like horse riding, camel riding, maze, boating, and kathputli (puppet) shows. Apno Gaon, a little distance from the city, serves mouth watering food. For the connoisseurs, there’s Loharu House. This is the house of a royal family member in Civil Lines, where you can call in advance and request for a special dinner. Or try the Pyaz ki Kachori at Rawat Mishthan Bhandar, which is situated close to the railway station.