A vast expanse of green in the heart of the city's brick-and-mortar matrix, the Maidan is where Kolkata's residents congregate for walks, spirited cricket and football matches, family outings, dates, tonga (horse-drawn carriage) rides and general idling. The grounds are flanked by the Victoria Memorial and St Paul's Cathedral to the south and the Hooghly riverbanks to the west. A tram line cuts through the greens, and hopping onto one of the carriages for a slow ride is great fun.
Historically, the Maidan was created in in 1758, in the aftermath of the ‘Black Hole’ fiasco. A moated ‘second’ Fort William, it was shaped in octagonal, Vaubanesque form, and the whole village of Gobindapur was flattened to give the new fort’s cannons a clear line of fire. Though sad for then-residents, this created a 3km-long park that is today as fundamental to Kolkata as Central Park is to New York City. Fort William itself remains hidden within a walled military zone to the west of the greens.