Leafing through History of Bhubaneswar Club
Starting with 23 members in 1950, the Bhubaneswar Club has now a membership strength of more than 3,000 members. The Club has reciprocal facilities with more than 180 elite Clubs spread all over India including many Clubs abroad. The Club has made incredible and steady journey from 1950 to attain its present status as one of the prime Clubs of the country.
The Club’s origins are closely traceable to Bhubaneswar (know as cathedral city of India) being declared as the New Capital of Orissa State. The construction of the New Capital at Bhubaneswar began in 1946 and thus new colonies were constructed over a period of 4 years. It was during this period, the need for a Club was felt since Bhubaneswar was bereft of modern recreation facilities.
How the Club Started
On 28th July 1949 the then Govt. Architect Mr J L Vaz initially proposed to start a Club at Capital Area Bhubaneswar and a meeting was held at the temporary Circuit House (next to Govt. Architect’s residence) on Saturday, the 6th August to discuss the modalities of formation of a club.
Inauguration of the Bhubaneswar Club
A sprawling 10 – acre area (where the present station square and Ashoka Market exists) called as Jhunjhunwala garden owned by Late D K Jhunjhunwala, became the historic place for christening the Bhubaneswar Club in 1949. On 25th October 1949 the inauguration ceremony of the club was held at Jhunjhunwala garden hosted by Late D K Jhunjhunwala. The Raja Sahib of Khallikote was the Chief Guest, who presented a Billiards Table to the Club, which is till in use in the Club.
Registration of the Club
On 15th January 1950 the Club was registered under Companies Act and became Bhubaneswar Club Ltd. At that time club had only 23 members. The entrance fee was Rs 30/- and Members’ subscription Rs.15/- per month.
The first Annual General Meeting of Bhubaneswar Club Ltd, was held on 1st February 1950 with office bearers electing Shri Raja Bahadur of Khallikote, President, Shri C M Bennet as Vice-President, Mrs. G C Bennet as Honorary Secretary. The second AGM held on 2nd June 1951 elected Raja Sahib of Khallikote as President, Shri C M Bennet as Vice-President, Mrs. G C Bennet as Honorary Secretary. The Third AGM held on 21st February 1953 elected Shri Lingaraj Panigrahi as President, Shri C M Bennet as Vice-President, Mr. M N Bhuyan as Honorary Secretary. The Fourth AGM held on 28th April 1954 elected Raja Bahadur of Daspalla as President, Mr. B Mukherjee, ICS as Vice-President, Dr. R N Sahu as Honorary Secretary.
Shifting of the Club to Unit-1 of the New Capital
On the eve of Independence Day celebrations on 14th August 1954, the Club was shifted to a Government quarter at Udyan Marg. The then State Governor, Hon’ble Kumaraswamy Raja was the Chief Guest. The Raja Sahib of Daspalla was then the President and Mr. A L Nair, the Honorary secretary.
The Fifth AGM of the Club held on 19th April 1955 elected Raja Bahadur of Daspalla as President, Mr. B Mukherjee, ICS as Vice-President, Mr. A J A Tanro as Honorary Secretary. On that date the strength of membership consisted of 38 resident members, 56 out-station (non-resident) Members and one Life Member. On this occasion it was announced by the then President that two Tennis Courts built by the Govt have been handed over to the club for its use. Raja Sahib of Daspalla who later converted them into flood-lit Tennis Courts. The sixth AGM held on 12th August 1957 elected Dr H K Mahatab as President, Mr. N Senapati as Vice-President, Mr. N M Patnaik as Honorary Secretary.
Shifting of the Club to the existing premises
Late Shri Biju Patnaik held the reins of the Club as the President from 1962 to 1964. Although the club functioned for quite some time at the Udyan Marg premises, it was not very much convenient for the club since it was a residential quarter. The then Hon’ble Chief Minister of Orissa Dr Harekrishna Mahatab allotted the present premises on the Raj Path to the club with a small building built by the Govt. on a nominal rent of Rs.500/- per month.
On 6th March 1965 the shifting of the club took place from Udyan Marg to Unit VI (Raj Path). On 14th March 1965 the new club building was inaugurated by the then state Governor Hon’ble Dr. A N Khosla. The total membership of the Club stated to be 68 members excluding 26 outstation members. From mid-sixties to mid-eighties the Club increased its network of affiliation with other Clubs in the Country. It grew from strength to strength slowly but steadily.
Transfer of ownership of Club premises with Building from Government – 1985-87
The Govt. of Orissa transferred the ownership in favour of the Club on 18th December 1987. And then the Bhubaneswar Club became the owner of the existing premises in the Raj Path.
The Golden Era – The Decade of 1990s
The 1990s heralded the Golden Era for the Club for in this phase the Club transformed its stature to one of the prime Clubs in the country.
One after the other facilities were added and the Club went through a total sea change with 3 A/C Billiards Rooms, a modern bar, a modern swimming pool, Pool side Pub, an A/C conference hall, 19 luxury guest rooms adorning the first floor and second floor with lift facilities, two modern A/C dining halls with delicious Indian and Chinese cuisine comforts, a state of the art Communications Center, a Beauty Parlour, a Discotheque, Four Tennis Courts, two sprawling green lawns. The list is long and the efforts to improve are constant. The Membership has swelled to almost 1900, comprising of Judges, Legislators, MPs, Ministers, Ambassadors, Bureaucrats, Industrialists, Professionals, Service Holders, Businessmen – a varied cross section of the elite of the society. Eminent personalities in Cricket, Music and other fields/vocations have been honoured with Honorary Membership. The facilities offered today in the Club rank among the best in the country.
The staging of the National Billiards and Snooker Championships in 1996 at the Club, followed by organising of the world Billiards Championship the following year put the Club on the international map.
The Club has become the brand name for promoting arts, culture and sports. The entertainment and recreational events of the Club for the past years have attracted attention all over the country, specially the New Year Eve events having giant replicas of the Taj Mahal, The Titanic, The Pyramids, The Nina (One of the ships which Christopher Columbus used for his voyage to America) etc. as backdrops in the New Year’s Eve Celebrations of the Club year after year in continuum.