India // Kolkata & West Bengal //

The Maidan, New Market and Park Street


One of the largest city-centre parks in the world, the Maidan – literally “field” – stretches from the Esplanade in the north to the racecourse in the south, and is bordered by Chowringhee Road to the east and the Strand and river to the west. This vast open area stands in utter contrast to the chaotic streets of the surrounding city, and is big enough to swallow up several clubs, including the Calcutta Ladies Golf Club and the immaculate greens of the Calcutta Bowling Club. It was created when Fort William, now home to the military headquarters of the Eastern Command, was laid out near the river in 1758; Robert Clive cleared tracts of forest to give its guns a clear line of fire. Originally a haven for the elite, with a strict dress code, today ordinary citizens come to exercise each morning, while shepherds graze their flocks and riders canter along the old bridleways. In the late afternoons, the Maidan plays host to scores of impromptu cricket and football matches, as well as games of kabadi.

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