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Guwahati - Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium

The Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium in Guwahati (Sarusajai Stadium), Assam, will host the teams of Group E of the FIFA Under-17 World Cup (Japan, France, Honduras and New Caledonia)

indian super league 2017 Updated: Nov 15, 2017 17:20 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
Guwahati’s Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium (Sarusajai stadium), a multipurpose venue with a race track surrounding the football turf used to seat about 35,000, but post renovation for the FIFA Under-17 World Cup, officials say, the capacity now is 28,500.
Guwahati’s Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium (Sarusajai stadium), a multipurpose venue with a race track surrounding the football turf used to seat about 35,000, but post renovation for the FIFA Under-17 World Cup, officials say, the capacity now is 28,500.(HT Photo)

The BJP-led government prefers to call it Sarusajai Stadium – after the locality on the southern edge of Guwahati – instead of Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium, named when it was inaugurated in 2007 specifically for the 33rd National Games.

The multipurpose stadium with a race track surrounding the football turf used to seat about 35,000. But tournament director of the local organising committee Javier Ceppi sought bucket seats and other improvements. He did not give high marks for the stadium but said work was progressing well during a visit in August.

Assam sports officials said the bucket seats have reduced the stadium’s seating capacity to 28,500. “We hope to complete all the improvements sought by FIFA, such as modern dressing room, better media section and lights soon. These should cost us Rs 25-crore,” Assam sports secretary Sanjib Gohain Baruah told HT.

The stadium has not had a renovation on such a scale before. It had hosted several matches of the Indian Super League, being the home ground of the North East United FC club. It also hosted the India-Nepal match for the last World Cup qualifiers.

Sarusajai has an additional football ground for practice. There are four other practice grounds for the Group E teams, and one of these is at Sonapur, about 30km east of Guwahati.

How to get there

Flights and trains from all major cities in India. There are two terminal stations – Guwahati and Kamakhya.

What changed

- New 23,000 Individual Bucket Seats on stadium for all spectators

- Improved toilet, stairs and evacuation facilities for spectators

- 2 New Team Dressing Rooms

- 2 New Referees Dressing Rooms

- Improved Sports Lighting

- 4 heavily improved training grounds with floodlights, dressing rooms and international standard pitch

After football, happy hours...

Srimanta Sankardeva Kalakshetra: This is an expansive cultural centre that encompasses the social and cultural aspects of all communities in Assam.

Places of religious and architectural interest: Kamakhya Temple, Basistha Ashram, Nabagraha Temple, Poa Mecca and Haygrib Madhab Temple; Nabagraha is one of two Indian temples dedicated to the solar system while Poa Mecca and Haygrib Madhab Temple are in Hajo, 40km west of Guwahati.

Kamakhya Temple in Guwahati (HT Photo)

Places of historical interest: British-era Gateway of Guwahati, on the banks of Brahmaputra and Commonwealth World War II memorial

A centre of commerce: Guwahati Tea Auction Centre

‘Cruisine’: Evenings in Guwahati are best spent on Brahmaputra river cruises offering an assortment of delicacies besides cultural programmes; the cruises are lined along MG Road, often called Guwahati’s Marine Drive.

Visit to wildlife habitats: About 200km east of Guwahati is Kaziranga National Park, the best known habitat of the one-horned rhino. For those short on time is Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary, 50km east of Guwahati and known as ‘Mini Kaziranga’ for offering similar landscape and fauna.

Kaziranga National Park. (HT Photo)

Visit to silk village: About 35km west of Guwahati is Sualkuchi, arguably the largest silk village in India that produces the rare golden-hued muga silk.