Having posted before about the six sporting events you must see live in India, it seems only natural to follow up with a piece about the best places to watch sports throughout the country. Now, to a real sports fan it’s usually the case that a great event at a mediocre stadium trumps a so-so event at a grand stadium. But given that we’re talking about travel, pointing to the venues themselves makes some sense. That is to say, if you happen to be vacationing in India and you want to get a taste for the sporting culture, you may not have much of a say over the quality of the contest or matchup you get to see – but you might be able to decide where you’d like to try to get tickets.
These are our picks for the five best sporting venues of any kind throughout India.
Salt Lake Stadium (Kolkata)
Salt Lake Stadium is the kind of sports complex you almost have to see to believe. That’s not because it’s particularly state of the art, or even designed in any unique way, but merely because it’s massive. Before it was renovated for the FIFA U-17 World Cup, it was one of the largest football stadiums in the world by capacity. But it can still hold over 80,000 spectators, either for football or other sporting events.
Rajasthan Polo Club (Rajasthan)
The Rajasthan Polo Club isn’t your traditional spectator sports venue, but it’s arguably the most significant polo club in India. And since this is a major sport around the country (as noted in the previous piece on sports you have to see live), the Rajasthan Polo Club is certainly worth mentioning. If you can catch some of the action here you might just have your eyes opened to a whole new sport you’re not familiar with.
Eden Gardens (Kolkata)
There are a lot of awesome cricket stadiums around India, but this is one of the biggest and most significant. For those who might not know cricket as well, it’s really the international game that often makes for the biggest spectacle. As one overview of the sport puts it, test matches are generally the most competitive international games, and this is where you’ll be most likely to see them in India. It also happens to be a very pretty place to catch a long game.
DY Patil Stadium (Mumbai)
The home stadium of Mumbai City FC, DY Patil Stadium is believed by some to be the best place in India to watch football. While Salt Lake Stadium is a pure spectacle due to its size, DY Patil Stadium thrives on somewhat more modern facilities, as well as a reputation for loud and enthusiastic spectators. Some might actually say it provides the best total sports experience in India.
R.K. Khanna Tennis Complex (New Delhi)
Many might not think of India as a place where tennis is played simply because there isn’t a particularly famous tournament there. But India does host Davis Cup and Fed Cup matches (both international events), and in fact the India Open, a WTA Challenger tournament, has been held at R.K. Khanna since 2012. It’s a fairly small but charming complex consisting of a centre court with most of the seating and a number of other courts surrounding it.