Ground Guide: Eden Gardens
Eden Gardens, Kolkata
Match Tickets (how to buy)
One of the things that anyone used to buying tickets for sports events in the West needs to get to grips with is that it works differently on the sub-continent. Tickets are usually available much closer to the event than they are in the West and Eden Gardens is no different. When we visited, the first online tickets went on sale a week before the game via online ticket reseller kyazoonga.com and in-person sales started just a couple of days before the game.
If you are buying online then it is worth noting that kyazoonga.com seem to release the most expensive tickets first, followed by cheaper tickets a couple of days later. Eden Gardens ODI tickets start at around INR 500 with the most expensive (hospitality) tickets at a whopping INR 12,000. (As of October 31, USD 1 = INR 49 approximately).
Most people will pick up tickets purchased online in person, given the limited time between the sale and the game, and the reseller should tell you where to pick up. Kyazoonga.com publishes the information on their website (look for a small section near the bottom of their home page called “Customer Updates”) and they should email you too. We had to go to the Mohammedan Sporting Ground ticket counter (off Red Road), close to Eden Gardens and this was where the in-person sales were happening as well. The area is close to Eden Gardens itself and we reached there by tramping through some knee-length grass. If you are over 3 ft tall, you should expect to squat if you want to speak to someone through the rather low holes at the ticket counter. If you bought the tickets online, you should take a photo ID and the card you bought tickets with, as well as photocopies of the ID and the card if you can.
The Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) doesn’t appear to have a website but emailing firstname.lastname@example.org for ticket information may get you a response (or may not).
How to get to the ground
Eden Gardens is fairly easy to get to by public transport: Esplanade Metro station is around 10-15 minutes walk. There is also a local railway station, aptly called Eden Gardens, at the Hooghly River end. The Babughat Bus Terminus is close to the railway station while Esplanade Bus Terminus is near the metro station. When we visited, there were areas set aside for parking too.
From the Sudder Street area (see Watering Holes/Hotels) it is a pleasant 15 minute stroll through the park and past the Bengal Referees Association (football fans will inevitably start chanting: “ The referee’s a ******” at this point).
If none of these options work then you can always get a famous Kolkata yellow Ambassador taxi from anywhere for a pretty decent price – but expect to sit in a traffic jam.
What sections of the ground are ideal for watching (shade, climbing stairs, facilities)
From what we could tell, the INR 500 tickets offered the worst view. They circle the ground at the back of the stands and tend to be behind pillars: there may well be shade though.
Most of the ground is on two levels with blocks called, for example, B (ground level entry) and B1 (upper level seating with steps). The view from the ground level is perfectly good, however there is a fence at the front and you may not be in the shade. Each of the roofs on the stands is a sort of steel bar mesh though, so it is unlikely any shade would be completely full anyway.
In the cheaper areas Blocks E, F, G and H are almost behind the bowler’s arm at the High Court end (we sat in G for INR 1000) and offer views (some partial) of the big screens (which are located in Blocks D and J). The MOTM motorbike was right in front of Block G when we were there. Block F was the most full and had the best atmosphere when we visited; these were almost certainly the in-person sales on the day of the game.
At the Club House End, Block B offers decent views of both big screens and is as close to the bowler’s arm as you can get at that end without getting into the members’ area. It seemed to be slightly more expensive than the High Court end (tickets starting at INR 1500).
The remaining blocks all give a view of one of the big screens and are squarer on the wicket.
Blocks B, C, D and E get the sun later in the afternoon while the opposite side of the ground, K, J, H and G get the morning rays.
What are the usual do’s and dont’s?
In terms of what you can and can’t take in, Eden Gardens is one of the less stringent Indian grounds we’ve been to. There were the standard forbidden items: cameras, drinks, food, fireworks and so on but no problems with mobile phones or small bags (I tend to take a cloth shopping bag to any Indian ground though as I can always take the contents out, carry them and put the bag in a pocket until I’m in the ground). Regardless of the searches some people always manage to get huge cameras into games: I haven’t tried it as I don’t want to risk leaving it with security but I suspect stating that you ARE taking it in would work.
The standard forceful explanation of suntan lotion (a necessity for pasty Western visitors) as “medical” worked (and on this, if at first you don’t succeed then keep trying and getting more insistent). There was no problem taking flags and banners in.
Inside the stadium, things were pretty relaxed with a reasonable police presence just in case.
Food and concession stands
In the block where we sat, the concession stands were all in the concourse. Reasonably priced plastic packets of water, standard soft drinks (like Pepsi) and local food including singara and kati rolls as well as crisps/snacks were available in the concession standards.
We didn’t see any mobile vendors but that may have been different in the more expensive areas.
Things to do around the ground before and after a day’s play
The area around Eden Gardens is pretty good for exploring if you are visiting Kolkata: the High Court, St John’s Church, the green expanse of The Maidan and the lively New Market are all within walking distance. A walk around the many colonial buildings in the area is fascinating. While The Victoria Memorial is slightly further afield, it is still at a walking distance. Next to that imposing structure is the racecourse and if you are lucky you may get to for in a race meeting before the cricket.
Any advantage of getting to the ground early/staying late
Given the size of the ground there are likely to be big crowds trying to get in but the large number of gates alleviate the problem to some extent. Getting in early will ensure you don’t miss the start but, equally, we arrived right at the start and got in easily. Likewise, crowds leaving will be big, it is best either to get out as the game ends or wait around a little and let the crowds die down.
Watering holes/Restaurants nearby
There are plenty of bars and restaurants around Park Street, Sudder Street and New Market, all within 15-20 minute walk of Eden Gardens.
On Park Street the up-market Park Hotel has a number of bar and food options, including one that is open into the early hours and a nightclub.
Sudder Street and the surrounding areas are home to many of the travelers visiting Kolkata and offer a lot of choice for fairly cheap food options as well as bars. We tried The Fairlawn Hotel (the bar is outside but it is worth going in to the hotel to look at the memorabilia on the walls) and The Lytton Hotel’s Sunset Bar. Of the two the Fairlawn was better but closes at 9.30 while the latter offered slightly grumpy service until 10.30 (and then you will be thrown out). Oh, and if you visit the Fairlawn then make sure you are covered by an umbrella or roof to avoid a “gift” from one of the many birds in the area!
The Lindsay Hotel on Lindsay Street (opposite New Market) has a rooftop bar called Blue and Beyond on the 9th floor with good views over the city.
Memorabilia (Gift shop etc)
We didn’t see any memorabilia on sale at all in our block although there may have been stalls elsewhere. Outside there were far fewer hawkers selling stuff than at other grounds with most a distance from the ground.
If traveling from afar, cheap accommodations/hostels around the ground
There are lots of options, ranging from dorm beds to en-suite on Sudder Street, Lindsay Street, Mirza Ghalib Street and around. We had friends who stayed in the Fairlawn (prices start at INR 2250), The Corporate (Royd St at Mirza Ghalib, prices from INR 4000), The Lindsay (prices from INR 3500), and the Sunflower Guest House (Royd Street, from INR 700). All were absolutely fine but there are plenty of other options starting from INR 250 for dorm beds.
Any other ground specific info
Look out for a Commemorative Wall near gates 9-11 (we’re not sure what it commemorated though) and some imposing statues on the roundabouts nearby of Deshbandhu Chittaranjan Das and Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose.
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