Yes, the World Cup is finally here and will be played on the cricket-crazy Indian sub-continent. And in the country of cricket fanatics, many may want to follow the Indian team as they make their bid to win the cup on home soil. “International sports events often drive an increase in the number of travellers and therefore a rise in demand for hotel rooms. Data from the Hotels.com Hotel Price Index shows evidence that major sports events like the FIFA World Cup and the Beijing Olympics have driven an increase in prices for the host venues,” says Abhiram Chowdhry, marketing director Asia-Pacific, Hotels.com. But before you head out to cheer for Sachin Tendulkar, MS Dhoni and Virender Sehwag, you may want to plan your excursion around the country. Include some sightseeing, good eating and fine living, while making sure that you are at the right venues at the right time. “We thought it would be a great idea to do an India darshan (guide) as we follow our team. We will definitely do some sightseeing near the venues,” says Abhay Shah, 26, marketing executive.
Match dates: South Africa vs Ireland on March 15, Ireland vs Netherlands on March 18, and Zimbabwe vs Kenya on March 20
Venue: Eden Gardens
Local legend: Sourav Ganguly
Must see: Esplanade is a former colonial district that most tourists pay a visit to. It also contains downtown businesses and
commercial centres too. Do take some time out to visit the Howrah Bridge on the Hooghly River and Dakshineswar temple on the banks of the river Ganges.
Travel tips: Don’t spend on expensive hotels. Just ensure that you have lodging or
in the Salt Lake area of the city.
Stay at: ITC Sonar (Rs 9,000 per night), Taj Bengal (Rs 6,424 per night), Fortune Park, Panchwati (Rs 5,665 per night)
Match dates: India vs England on February 27, England vs Ireland on March 2, India vs Ireland on March 6, Australia vs Kenya on March 13 and Australia vs Canada on March 16.
Venue: M Chinnaswamy Stadium
Local legends: Anil Kumble, Rahul Dravid and Robin Uttapa
Must see: Visit Tipu Sultan’s
summer palace. It combines
elements of Hindu and Muslim architecture and is worth a visit. Also, get a feel of ‘India’s garden city’ by taking a walk around Lal Baug or Cubbon Park.
Travel tips: Avoid buses if you don’t know the local language. Decide upon a fixed fare before you get into an auto-rickshaw.
Stay at: ITC Royal Gardenia
(Rs 9,836 per night), Hotel Bangalore Gate (Rs 2,340 per
night) and The Chancery Pavilion
(Rs 6,688 per night)
Match dates: Canada vs New Zealand on March 13, New Zealand vs Sri Lanka on March 18 and the World Cup final on April 2
Venue: Wankhede Stadium
Local legends: Sachin Tendulkar and Sunil Gavaskar
Must see: For those who are
historically inclined, a heritage walk around South Mumbai is highly
recommended. Also, do make time to spend a night around town. The city’s nightlife is among the best in the country.
Travel tips: The traffic situation in the city is regular. Keep that in mind when travelling. Also, bargain hard while shopping around on the streets. Avoid taking the local train during peak hours.
Stay at: The Oberoi (Rs 15,132 per night), Holiday Inn (Rs 7,196 per night) and Grand Sarovar Premiere (Rs 5,622 per night)
Match dates: Kenya vs New Zealand on February 20, England vs South Africa on March 6,
England vs West Indies on March 17 and India vs West Indies on March 20
Venue: MA Chidambaram Stadium
Local legends: Robin Singh and K Srikkanth
Must see: A visit to Chennai is incomplete without going to the Mariana Beach— the second longest beach in the world. Those interested in architecture can head to the exquisite Pallava, one of the city’s many temples that date back to the 7th century.
Travel tips: Life would be much easier if you understood a bit of the local language.
Stay at: Le Meredian (Rs 7,494
per night), Radisson Hotel
(Rs 5,549 per night) and Hotel Savera (Rs 3,150 per night)
Match dates: Australia vs Zimbabe on February 21, New Zealand vs Zimbabwe on March 4 and the fourth quarterfinal on March 26
Venue: Sardar Patel Stadium
Local legend: Parthiv Patel
Must see: A buzzing city with
several political and cultural
facets. It has been witness to
some of the national movement activities initiated by Mahatma Gandhi. His Sabarmati ashram
here provides one inspiration and teaches about India’s freedom struggle.
Travel tips: Alcohol is banned in Gujarat; so is carrying it into the state.
Stay at: The Gateway Hotel (Rs 7,500 per night), St Laurn Towers (Rs 5,996 per night), Le Meridien (Rs 4,250 per night)
Match dates: England vs Netherlands on February 22, Australia vs New Zealand on February 25, Zimbabwe vs Canada on February 28 and India vs South Africa on March 12
Venue: Vidarbha Cricket Stadium
Local legend: CS Nayadu
Must see: Visit The Maharaja Baugh and Zoo, which has been converted into a botanical garden. The Pench National Park, located about 65 kms away from the city, is a great destination for wildlife enthusiasts. The Aambazari Lake is another must-visit spot.
Travel tips: The city suffers from regular power cuts. While booking a hotel, pick one with a back-up power generator.
Stay at: Hotel Centre Point (Rs 5,026 per night), Pride Hotel (Rs 4,324 per night), Sun n Sand (Rs 3,998 per night)
Match dates: South Africa vs West Indies on February 24, West Indies vs Netherlands on February 28, Kenya vs Canada on March 7 and India vs Netherlands on March 9
Venue: Feroz Shah Kotla
Local legends: Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir and Virat Kohli
Must see: Visit the Red Fort and the Qutub Minar for your dose of India’s Captial’s heritage. A
shopping trip to Sarojini Nagar should be on all itineraries. Sample the parathas at the Parathewali Gali. Other landmark spots include the India Gate, Rashtrapati Bhavan and Akshardham temple.
Travel tips: Night outs may be a bit of a problem, only head out after making prior vehicle arrangement.
Stay at: ITC Maurya (Rs 12,500 per night), Pride Hotel (Rs 4,324 per night), Hotel Le Roi (Rs 2,265 per night).
Match dates: South Africa vs Netherlands on March 3, West Indies vs Ireland on March 11 and the second semi-final on March 30
Local legend: Yuvraj Singh
Must see: Tourists must visit the Pinjore Gardens. It houses a Japanese garden, a nursery, a mini zoo and picnic lawns. The Sukhna Lake’s promenade is a must-visit. The Rose Garden houses more than a thousand flower species.
Travel tips: Though winter is on its way out, carry a warm jacket, a cap and a shawl while visiting this city.
Stay at: Taj Chandigarh
(Rs 7200 per night), Hotel Antheia (Rs 2500 per night) and Hotel Diamond Plaza (Rs 1780 per room per night)