Eden Gardens, Kolkata
Eden Gardens in Kolkata is easily the biggest cricket ground in the country and one of the biggest in the world. Known to have had a capacity of more than a hundred thousand, it can now accommodate 90,000 spectators post renovations.
Eden Gardens hosted its first-ever Test match in 1934 when India played England -Douglas Jardine’s side managed to draw the game against the hosts. After five successive draws, Eden Gardens finally saw a result when Australia beat India in 1956.
In 1987, Eden Gardens hosted its first-ever ODI against Pakistan, and India’s arch-rivals went on to beat the hosts by a couple of wickets and three balls to spare thanks to Salim Malik’s 72 runs off 36 balls. India have played Pakistan thrice on this ground but have yet to win a single game, whereas Pakistan have played here on five occasions and lost only once. South Africa played its first-ever ODI – on their return to the international cricketing fraternity – in 1991, and saw Allan Donald scalp five wickets in a match that was a lost cause. The Proteas were involved in another close encounter in the semi-final of the Hero Cup (1993) when Sachin Tendulkar bowled India to a two-run victory thanks to an excellent last over.
Among the notable Indian wins here was the comeback against the Aussies who had won 16 games in a row and looked set to clinch their 17th in 2001. VVS Laxman entered the record books by batting out the fourth day of the game together with his partner, Rahul Dravid – both batsmen scored huge centuries. In the same game, Harbhajan Singh became the first-ever Indian bowler to capture a hat-trick in a Test match.
Formerly called Calcutta, it is regarded the intellectual and cultural capital of the nation. This is a fabulous place to sample the mild, fruity tang of Bengali cuisine and share the state’s passion for sweets. Some of the places to visit in the city include Fort William, the massive and impregnable British Citadel built in 1773. Also visit Victoria Memorial, along St. George’s Gate Road, which houses a museum and Calcutta Racecourse. Check out Jorasanko Thakur Bari, the Tagore family residence, and the world famous Howrah Bridge that spans the Hooghly River. Stroll along Rabindra Sarovar a large open lake and park area housing boating clubs.
For the religiously inclined, there’s Kali Bari in South Kolkata, the Birla Temple and Belur Math, a huge complex and the headquarters of the Ramakrishna Mission.
For those of you who are hunting for cheap bargains, Kolkata is the place. Visit New Market to buy everything from Bankura horses, sarees and other arts and crafts from Shantiniketan as well as other handloom items. Check out the Maidan Market for its wide range of sporting goods at cheap prices. Don’t forget to visit Gariahat in South Kolkata. It is the biggest shopping district of Kolkata, where one can find all kinds of products.
Culture and Entertainment
For those looking for cultural stimulation, Kolkata has a lot to offer. Visit the Botanical Gardens and see the Great Banyan Tree. Go to the Birla Planetarium, one of the largest planetariums in the world. Or see a movie at the Nandan Cinema Complex, and look at the museum dedicated to Satyajit Ray.
For book lovers, a visit to Kolkata warrants a trip to College Street, where you can trace many out of print books with a little patience. While in College Street, Coffee House is a must visit.
Kolkata is a heaven for foodies. The street food is also of high quality and gives you a flavour of Kolkata. Check out Nizam’s in New Market, which is credited with the invention of the famous Kati Kebab roll and still serves up the best of the best. Street vendors selling egg rolls, ‘mughali parathas’ and ‘chops’ are to die for.
Kolkata also is a treasure-trove of Chinese food. For some delectable chicken momos, head out to Tangra, a region which has a lot of Chinese inhabitants. If pasta’s on your mind, head to Casa Toscana on Chowringhee, opposite Nehru Children museum. Bengali sweets are famous across the globe. Try some shops like KC Das, Jugal’s, Bhim Nag, Nakur Nandy, Sen Mahasoy, Ganguram and Mithai.