History of Khar Gymkhana
How it all began
Khar was a nascent sleepy suburb during the twenties when the Government was offering plots of land and subsidized loans to purchase the land. Some discerning people choose to avail of this generous offer of the Government and started moving in. The place was full of paddy fields, beyond the CKP Hall on the linking road to the south and most of the interior parts to the west of the linking road.
A few residents had formed a small association and were thinking of creating an outlet offering recreational facilities to the residents. At one such meeting in 1928 it was the casting vote of the chairman, which favored the formation of Khar Gymkhana which would be accessible to the Middle Income group people. Initially a small room was made available at the Bungalow, at the corner of the 14th Road, and the C.D. Marg, which is presently known as Jain Arcade. The owner was gracious enough to allow the use of gratis. In this room the members gathered in the evenings to play carom or a game of bridge and make future plans as well.
Around this time a Cricket Club known as Khar Young Cricketers led by the Late Mr. Vithaldas Divecha decided to merge with the Khar Gymkhana and activities began in right earnest.
Collection of funds was pursued diligently and a number of prominent residents were enrolled as patron members. The donation amount was Rs. 500/- for two patrons from the same family. This list grew in number gradually and included some industrialists from the city as well as members of the princely families.
Efforts were simultaneously underway to obtain land and thanks to the efforts of Late Mr. B.G.Kher. (who later become the first Prime Minister of the Bombay State in 1940) The Government was pleased to sanction a piece of land on a long lease on which stands the present building. Efforts were also made at the Bandra Municipality by the Late Mr. Ramrao Nayak and Late Mr. Baloo Palwankar (the Legendary Cricketer) to obtain additional land on the southern side. Thereafter the Cricket pitch was shifted southwards where it stands today. There was also a well inside the Cricket ground which is still there but now covered and the water is being used.
Construction of the Pavilion
Construction of the Pavilion began sometime in 1933 and was completed in 1935 when a grand inauguration was held on Kojagiri night (Sharat Poornima when some enthusiastic ladies gave musical performances. Simultaneously the Trust was formed and a Trust Deed was registered with the following 5 Trustees as the first Trustees:
Vinayak Ganpatrao Rao, Madhavlal Makanji Bhat, Gajanan Sakharam Gupte, Popatlal Govindlal Shah & Shavaksha Hormusji Mehta
This Group is for Members of Khar Gymkhana Club in Mumbai. Khar Gymkhana aims to bring the members under one roof, share and discuss events and organize social programmes with an aim of learning Encourage youth and persons of all ages to actively participate in sharing ideas, events, sport activities, team building,leadership, Outdoor visits with the club members. Address issues that will benefit all the club members and the society around us. Khar Gymkhana promotes ecological awareness, Carry rural development programmes, Development of Self Relationship between Colleagues.
In a chat held on Friday, September 29th, Sunil Dutt, MP shared his feelings about his wife, Nargis?s illness and the birth of the Nargis Dutt Foundation; cancer treatment in India and his contributions to it; the rural cancer center he is actively involved with and the mobile dispensary he has recently started.
The chat was held at the Khar Gymkhana Cyber cafe. Among those present were well-known film producers, Mr. Subodh Mukherjee and Mr. Subhash Mukherjee, Chairman of CPAA, Mr. Y.K. Sapru, Ms. Gitanjali Chatterjee, Head of CPAA?s Patient Care Department and Dr. Shubha Maudgal, Director, New Projects.
The Pavilion of the Gymkhana was officially commissioned in 1935 and it consisted of the following amenities. The entrance was from 13th road and one entered into a foyer. On one side was a small room, which housed a small canteen serving the famous batata vadas of Gymkhana. On the other side was a small office room where a couple of cupboards were kept and a small table and chair under the staircase, which reeled to a small terrace. Then as one entered a big hall, on one side was a Billiard table and on the other side was a Table tennis table and there were two high chairs, which were kept for watching Billiards from a height. A few card tables used to be laid, put in the hall and some in the verandah. On one side of the verandah towards the west side was the Tennis Court which was patronized by well known stalwarts like Fazal Boys, Mhatres, Godambes, Walawkar, Deepchand Shah well known solicitor Basubhai Karsondas and the list continues.
Then as time went by Late Mr. Ramakant Godambe donated a new court in memory of his father Late Bhagwantrao Godambe and this was named as Godambe court and still continues to be called Godambe Court. Adjoining the eastern verandah was a Badminton court where some members would also play Ball Badminton. A lot of youngsters used to flock there to the Badminton court to snatch a few games and seeing their enthusiasm the Managing committee decided to waive entrance fees to these groups of youngsters and enrolled these young boys as members. Mr. Govindrao Kulkarni and Mr. Vithalrao Diwecha played leading part in this gesture. As the activities increased enrollment of members and patrons was in full swing and it evoked an excellent response.
Bye and Bye a major activity emerged besides cricket, which came to the forefront was the Annual sports. This was an event which was looked forward to by the entire House in Khar and neighboring areas and there used to be full fledged activity for a week which included besides track events, field events like shot put, discuss throw, javelin throw and all the jump long jumps and high jump and pole vault. Mr. Mukerji who was associated with the Olympic association and Mr. Khan Bahadur Shawak Shah Mehta were the leading lights in organizing these sports events and there used to scores of volunteers with liberal participation for all including the ladies and the sports used to be a grand success. Initially the collector of Mumbai Suburb district was invited to be the Chief Guest at the prize distribution and whenever he visited, the roads used to be specially watered for his visits. Very prominent among the athletes was Rohnen Mukherji, Antoo Palwelkar who was a javelin champion. Our Late Trustee Jaya Chaubal was a complete athlete as a short distance runner and a high jumper. Manohar Chemburkar and Sudhakar Vagh excelled in long distance running and there used to be very keen competition between them. Late Col. Vasant Chaubal, elder brother of Jaya Chaubal also participated whenever he was in town. Lessely Woodcock who became an Olympian later on used to regularly participate in the Gymkhana sports and so did Ray Salve who was a superb sprinter. Vasant Kalgutkar was selected by Mr. Khan Bahadur Mehta for special training across at the Olympic Association.
Mr. S.L. Nair and Pheroz Jhabvela also joined hands with Mr. Khan Bahadur Mehta in organizing the sports and the grand “Old” lady Mrs. Mehraben Jhabwala led the ladies brigade which lent an additional charm to the proceedings.
Simultaneously cricket activities were in full swing and in addition to the Gymkhana team there was several group of young boys who used to roll out small plots on the outfield and have private matches among themselves. There were quite a few good cricketers on view particularly among the pathare group of cricketers and these matches were very keenly contested.
The Gymkhana cricket team was making big strides and attracted top class players. There used to be Mr. Kesar Kodi who used to hit huge sixes clearing the Pavilion. Keeping pace was Antu Palwanker who was already making a name for himself at the Bombay scene. Mr. Ramesh Diwecha who went to the Oxford University and later donned India colours and Mr. Hansoti who played for Mumbai Ranjit Trophy team Garudachar from Mysore and Dr. Gupte from Baroda were members of the Cricket team.
There was also ladies cricket team and prominent among these were ladies from the Gupte family, from the Diwecha family, Sathe family, Zabwala family, and regular matches used to played between ladies and Gents that used to be an annual feature. (Among the members was Homi Jhashrea who became the Chief of Narcotics at the UNO.
1929: Dawn of a sporting tradition
In 1929, a few leading residents of Khar who shared a passion for sports (including Mr. B.G. Kher who went on to become the Chief Minister of Bombay Province) founded a full-fledged Gymkhana that would act as a nursery for the city’s talented youngsters. The existing Khar Cricket Club was reborn as Khar Gymkhana.
Over the decades, generations of champion sportsmen and sportswomen have emerged sporting the K.G. blazer. Today, Khar Gym has the widest variety of sports facilities, backed by professional coaching, and one of the largest budgets for the promotion of sports. Khar Gym has had the privilege of hosting a Davis Cup tie, and a 15-nation Commonwealth Table Tennis tournament.
Khar Gymkhana is located in a well-known suburb of Bombay. Pali Hill, home to many a film star is next door. A 20 minute drive takes you to the airport. For shopping you have the boutique-line Linking road nearby.
A measure of Khar Gymkhana’s passion for sports is the large number of tournaments at state and national levels in various sports. These include Table Tennis, Billiards, Snooker, Squash, Badminton, Swimming and Cricket.
Backed by a dedicated team of professional coaches and assistants, Khar Gymkhana offers it members a full spectrum of sporting facilities.
Khar Gym first started as a Cricket Club. Over the years, players have emerged from the Gymkhana stables to play at the state and national levels. “Nets” are a common sight during the cricket season. Passions at an inter-gymkhana match can rival that of a world cup tie.
Khar Gymkhana has one of the best billiards rooms in the country. One of the few in the country to be certainly air-conditioned, it is also among the largest, with four tables placed at two levels. The standard of play among members is quite high. Among the regulars are some very top players including an Asian Snooker champion.
A multi-purpose hall accommodates various other activities like Yoga & Aerobics.
There are Squash courts at Khar Gymkhana which see fast paced action as youngsters and the young at heart play at a furious pace. Coaching schemes have been set up to nurture budding talent at an early stage.
Khar Gymkhana is among the few in the country to have badminton courts built to international specifications, complete with a high ceiling and wooden floors. Naturally open tournaments attract top players and the city’s badminton lovers.
Our floodlit tennis courts see action almost round the clock. Regular coaching camps and annual tournaments have produced a string of players who have donned state and national coaches.
The Health Club is extremely popular with Khar Gymkhana members. It includes a sauna, a steam bath, a masseur facility and a Jacuzzi. An air conditioned modern gym rounds up the full range of fitness activities. There are separate timings for women.
The elevated swimming pool at Khar Gymkhana is among the few such pools in the country. Situated on the second floor, the pool has a breezy sitout alongside, overlooking the cricket maidan. The poolside tables with their sub-umbrellas and cool ambience are a popular place to relax in the evenings, and as a viewing gallery during a cricket match.
Table Tennis is yet another indoor sport that’s seen Khar Gymkhana produce state and national ranking players, right from the junior levels. The air-conditioned TT room is equipped with four tables.
The newly refurbished Card Room attracts the numerous bridge enthusiasts in Khar Gymkhana. Spacious and done up tastefully in soft colours, the room is line with elegantly lit alcoves.
Members have a bewildering array of choices when it comes to entertaining guests. If the emphasis is on a casual ambience, there is the elevated terrace poolside, overlooking the cricket field; the open air lawns, or the cosy atmosphere of the Inswinger, the Gymkhana’s bar. For a more formal environment, there’s the Pavilion, the Gymkhana’s posh restaurant. A sophisticated and spacious Conference Room is also made available to members for a very nominal fee.
Drop in at Khar Gymkhana and you are likely to see a celebration. Major festivals like Baisakhi, Holi, Diwali, Navrati (Dandiya Nights), Christmas and New Year’s Eve are celebrated with great gusto.
3-leval restaurant, it seats 135 guests in majestic comfort. Its name comes from the fact that almost every seat gives you a clear view of the cricketing action of the field. The Pavilion serves fine Indian and Chinese Cuisine.
Khar Gymkhana’s passion for sports is evident in the name of the popular Gymkhana bar. And in the lively conversation which invariably centres around the latest sporting event (whether it’s the local action or the Test series in the Carribean).
The Library is for those seeking food for thought, the Khar Gymkhana Library has a fine collection of books and the latest newspapers and magazines, Indian and International.
Special Category Members