Enter the Eden Gardens in Kolkata and you witness a heady concoction of heritage and modernity that makes it one of the most attractive cricket venues in the world. The stadium is now being decked up for Friday's India-Pakistan Test match.
Along with the Melbourne Cricket Ground, the Eden Gardens is considered one of the biggest cricket facilities in the world. It first hosted a Test back in the days of India's cricketing infancy, with Douglas Jardine's team easing to victory within four days in 1934.
It has hosted 34 Test matches since then, more than any other venue in India. It has become a pilgrimage centre for cricketers around the world.
The biggest attraction of the venue is its capacity of 90,000 and the verve and energy they spill on to the lush green centre-spread.
Established in 1864, the romance of the stadium lives on even as it is improved with modern facilities that the sport demands today.
Cricket Association of Bengal joint-secretary Samar Pal told IANS: "We have spent around Rs.10 million on giving a facelift to this grand venue and we are happy with what we have managed to do. Now it's a mixture of tradition and modernity."
The galleries sport a fresh paint and better sitting facilities. The pavilion has also undergone massive renovation.
"While all the VIP boxes have been air-conditioned, the press box has been turned into a wi-fi zone. This time, we have arranged for photographers to click from both the High Court end and the western side, in addition to the traditional spot just next to the pavilion," Pal said.
"The entire ground is also a wi-fi zone now. There is a modern gymnasium and the swimming pool looks new," he added.
The players' dressing rooms have also been converted into a five-star facility. A lot of attention has been given to the drainage.
"While the peripheral drains of the ground have been laid again with powerful pumps, the drain surrounding the stadium has also been cleaned," Pal said.
Incidentally, the Eden Gardens also hosted the second Test between India and Pakistan in their previous tour in 2005, which India won.