September 15, 2017

The Gymkhana Club

The Gymkhana Club is one of the prestigious clubs of Madras city. It is a popular landmark of the city. It is located on Anna Salai in the Island Grounds locality. It bears the door number 1 of Anna Salai.

The Club was started in April 1884 CE. Brig. General Johnson and Brig. General Alexander Arbuthnot penned the proposal to form this club on the land that belonged to the army. Johnson named the club as Gymkhana and he was one who formulated the rules and objectives of the club.

The membership was initially restricted to the British executives, Garrison members and few selected high profile Indians.

Today, the campus is spread across 7 acres of land. But, originally it just had a tent in the open ground. It all changed after the Raja of Venkatagiri (Muthukrishna Yachendra) donated land and the present building to the club in 1886 CE. The club grew and added more and more games/sports with the generous donations from the South Indian Zamindars (who called themselves as the Rajas).

The club brought football first to the city. The first tournament was held in 1884 CE, the very first year of the club itself. The club also brought rugby to the city in 1914 CE. The club has one of the oldest golf courses in Asia.

The first president of the club was Lt. General C.B.Johnson.  One of the prominent figures, who served as the President of the Club was Sir George Montgomerie John Moore. The famous Moore Market (which was lost in fire) was named after him.

Today, the club has around 4000 members. The elegant British period lime-mortar-brick building stands in the middle. The building has an imposing porch, broader verandahs, beautiful wooden staircases and grand lounge. The different designs of chandeliers are hanging down. The hall displays the portraits/paintings of the Raja of Venkatagiri and other prominent figures. The first floor has the dining hall and the balcony overlooks the green lawns and the swimming pool. This swimming pool is one of the city's first.

The Club offers a lot of facilities that include bar, catering, children's play area, guest house and party hall. The library in the club has massive collection of books. The sports facilities in the Club include cricket, billiards, board games, tennis, swimming, table tennis and golf.

Happy travelling.

P.S. The historical details, names and dates were taken from the articles written by the historian Sriram V and the official website of the Club.

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