As a city that swears by its morning walks come hell or high water, it’s but understandable that Kolkata has more than its share of open spots for a good run. Although overcrowded and subject to heavy traffic through most of the day, early mornings in Kolkata are still quite peaceful and the best time to explore the city’s running haunts. Off late, events such as the Tata Steel 25K and Kolkata Marathon have become popular on the city’s calendar, adding many more runners onto Kolkata’s streets and gardens. If you’re looking to go running on your next trip, or simply need a change from the treadmill, here are some of the top spots to seek out:
Rabindra Sarovar lake area
One of the most popular walk spots in the city, this vast lakeside promenade on Southern Avenue in South Kolkata has patrons of several decades utilizing the tree-lined, shaded, green circular loop daily. You could be warming up next to players from some of the city’s many football clubs, while being overtaken by extremely-fit septuagenarians with sticks in hand (to ward off stray dogs). The area spills over into the Rabindra Sarobar Stadium, and sporting clubs such as the Calcutta Rowing Club and smaller parks. One could even choose to run outside lake enclosure along the beautiful Southern Avenue pavement perimeter, which goes all the way up to Golpark, a good 6-7K run both ways.
Horticultural Gardens and Alipore area
Located in Alipore Road, The Agri-Horticultural Society of India encompasses 21 acres of rare greenery within the heart of a bustling city. While not suitable for long runs, you can go loops across the 1.5K concrete track lined with surrounded by trees and nurseries on both sides. The garden is open from 7-11 am in the morning and 3-5pm in the evening. The plush locality of Alipore itself is a pristine mix of stately bungalows, villas and foreign consulates with sprawling lawns and gardens, and clean tree lined avenues and roads, that offer great places for a run.
Salt Lake area
With its neatly divided blocks and well-maintained roads, Salt Lake offers easy running spots within its residential and corporate enclaves. This year, the area was also the stage for the TCSFit4Life Corporate challenge that saw participation from 56 companies and 12 colleges. The popular thoroughfare Broadway is a common choice for runners as walkers, as is the periphery around the Salt Lake Stadium. The City Centre area also offers some peaceful spots before rush hours begin, while the Central Park at Karunamoyee is only a few kilometers off. Known as Banabitan, this large urban park that surrounds an expansive water body, and comprises tree-lined pathways and several delightful gardens.
The largest urban park in Kolkata, the Maidan is known as the city’s lung for its open green spaces that are dotted with cultural and historical landmarks. Sprawling across the city centre from Raj Bhavan in the north to Belvedere Road in Alipore, it is made up of extensive grasslands intersected by roads and tram lines. The Calcutta Race Course and Eden Gardens fall in this area, and top football clubs in the city are known to host regular matches. You can choose between running on the grass without a track or along the roads that circuit the entire greens and pass through some of Kolkata’s architectural gems, though do watch out for the traffic or oncoming trams during busier times of the day.
Apart from public grounds and areas, some of Kolkata’s thoroughfares can make for good running locations during low-traffic hours. These include the historic riverside Strand Road that lines the ghats and pier along the Hooghly river. While busy through the day, early mornings can give you an uninterrupted stretch through famous landmarks including the grand SBI headquarters and the Kolkata Maritime Museum, as well as the Millennium Park promenade. The well-known Howrah Bridge and Vidyasagar Setu looming over the dawn skyline makes for one the prettiest views of this old city.
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