The powder-blue colonial building in Richmond town is one of the oldest clubs in the country and a repository of the city’s British past.

A colonial treasure in the heart of the city Bangalore Club turns 150Official website of Bangalore Club
news Human Interest Friday, April 27, 2018 - 16:27

The gates swing open to sprawling lawns and carefully manicured bushes growing under the shade of old coniferous trees. Through this leafy barrier peeps out a colonial bungalow painted in powder blue. The bungalow, with its white arched windows, collonaded verandahs and a twin pillared portico is none other than the Bangalore Club - one of the first clubs in the country which has withstood the test of time.

Established in 1868 in Richmond town,  the club once catered to the cream of the society, including the Maharaja of Mysore and  Winston Churchill. Today, it celebrates 150 glorious years of its existence.

History

Initially started for British officers, the Bangalore United Services Club soon changed to the Bangalore Club and opened its doors to civilians. The 13 acre (now 11 and a half) property in the heart of Richmond town was a massive house before it was converted to a club. Back in the day, the club house stood on the city’s periphery. With time, both the city and the club expanded bringing the latter to the centre.

Presently,  the club is an amalgamation of the old and new, of history and modernity. The Main Lounge boasts of ancient hunting trophies and war collectibles. Animal horns and ancient pictures adorn the walls its walls. The Brigadier Hall Annexe, which was constructed in 1907 with sunken wooden floor, was  where royal dances were held. A swimming pool, which was established in 1938, is one of the oldest in the country. Presently, this pool has temperature regulators for the convenience of the members.

With library holding over 20,000 books, tennis, badminton and squash courts and a billiards room,  the members have ample recreational facilities. Various services such as a salon, health room, boutique, and a restaurant present the members with all the comforts.

Despite being an ancient building, the club  has got a sewage treatment plant which treats 50-60kld water every day and wet waste is turned into compost. The fuel obtained from this compost is used to run the kitchen. “We are very proud of the small waste footprint that we are leaving,” said Mr Girish Punja, the President of the club.   

Celebrating 150 years of the club

The celebrations began on the 10th February 2018 with a concert by violin maestro Dr L Subramanium, Grammy award winner Ernie Watts on the Jazz saxophone and Ritt Henn on the bass. Apart from them,  a few other musicians put up performances.

The club will bring out a book, post-September, which trace the origin and history of the club culture in India, besides the evolution of Bangalore Club itself. There are also plans to release a commemorative stamp which would be presented to each of the members.

The club is also set to host a Grand Ball on April 28,  to recreate its colonial days. Plans to organise a grand orchestra for the ball are also being discussed.

“We host a ‘May Queen Ball’, every year,  which is a fashion show. This year we are planning to host ‘150 Years of Fashion’, where people will walk the ramp wearing clothes that were fashionable from 1868 to the present day.  This is to show how fashion and music evolved with every decade. We also plan on releasing an audio-visual which will talk about the 150 years of the club,” said Mr Punja.

The club also hosts a Services Day sometime in October to honor the armed forces.    

 “We held an open house to take suggestions from the members on how to celebrate this year. I am proud to say that most people thought we must give something back to the society. So apart from cultural events, we also have ideas for employee and social initiatives,” he added.

The general body has put aside a budget of Rs 1 crore for these initiatives. Some of the ideas include building playgrounds for government schools, planting one tree for every club member, which would amount to 6500 trees and making solar-powered bore wells in forest areas for animals to have sufficient water in summers. The club is scheduled to host ample events with grandeur throughout the year to celebrate its 150th anniversary.  

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