India’s love of cricket is certainly no secret, but some of the sprawling country’s best kept secrets are its top cricket venues.
Fans of the game can find cricket played on practically every Mumbai street corner, a passion for kids and adults alike. Yet, as this guide shows, there are plenty of other places to keep in mind for cricket fans.
Shivaji Park, Mumbai
It’s good sometimes to get back to where it all began. Shivaji Park in Mumbai is not only where the most promising cricketing talent in the city goes to hone their game, but it’s also proven the nurturing ground of some of India’s top players. Sanjay Manjrekar, Vinod Kambli and Sunil Gavaskar all cut their teeth here before making it big – it’s a great way to get back to the roots of some of your favourite players.
Ball factories in Meerut
If you get the permission required to tour and visit the various cricket ball and bat factories that exist in Meerut in Uttar Pradesh, you can get a real grassroots feel for how the country’s leading brands get their kit. The way cricket balls are stitched alone is a fascinating thing to see, and the chance to get your hands on some goodies fresh out of the factory is hard to turn down.
The Eden Gardens, Kolkata
As far as hallowed ground for Indian cricket goes, The Eden Gardens are the jewel of Kolkata. And while the colonial architecture and hints of the British Raj give the city more information to absorb than you can take in one trip, cricket is still the heartbeat of the community.
Seating 90,000, The Eden Gardens were first built in the 1860s. The seating forms a circle around the pitch, which is the largest cricket ground in India and the second largest in the world. No cricket tour of this great nation would be complete without a game enjoyed in the rich atmosphere of this fantastic stadium.
The Blades of Glory Museum, Pune
Self-styled as the biggest cricket museum in the world, The Blades Of Glory Museum not only pays homage to the Indian greats but also players and achievements from across the globe. Bats and balls signed by legends of the green like Yuvraj Singh, Kapil Dev, Australia’s Allan Border and England’s Kevin Pietersen are pride of place in the collection.
Yet there’s plenty more to enjoy here too. The World Cup 2015 collection has the jerseys and other paraphernalia of every competing nation. And the collection is growing all the time, not least since the Blades of Glory museum is a true labour of love by passionate followers of cricket.
The HPCA Stadium, Dharamshala
This ground boasts a unique feel, thanks to its location amid the peaks of the Dhauladhar Mountains. The colourful stands of this 23,000-seat pavilion make for an intimate way to enjoy the game, surrounded by stunning scenery that can’t be captured anywhere else. This is all at 4,700 feet above sea level, making the heightened excitement of the matches you’ll see quite literal!