Madras Gymkhana Club, 1905 Postcard
An old 1905 photo postcard of Madras Gymkhana Club and pavilion. The club is located on an island – Island Grounds, near the mouth of the River Cooum. Adjacent to Fort St George, once the epicenter of British settlements in India. The Cooum is one of the three rivers of Madras, now Chennai. Formerly an arterial river of the city navigable by passenger and country boats. But unfortunately a fetid dying river now. Looking at the postcard, the club’s top portion perhaps was a pavilion, and partially visible in the front is a barricaded ground, probably a golf course or polo ground.
The bottom floor may have been the club’s dining and recreation area. Established in 1884, its entry was restricted to the European civil and military workforce from in and around Fort St George. Some upper-class or aristocratic Indians were also members of this club. But their policies were amended after India’s independence which allowed entry to ordinary citizens too. The club is still in existence although its quaint structure has undergone several makeovers. It is now quite unlike what is shown in this Madras Gymkhana Club photo postcard.
Did you know- Queen Victoria was entrenched as the indisputable Empress of India at the time of the opening of the club.