Dilapidated and hidden from view by weeds and overgrown trees Civil Lines is a 90 year old British era building that houses the Gurgaon Club, a recreational facility established in the 1930s, which is currently in a state of total neglect. With its expansive grounds turning into a makeshift dumping ground, the club – which was the pride of the city in decades past – is now adorned with empty packets of crisps, plastic bottles and polythene bags.
In its heyday, the club catered to Class 1 administration officers as well as lawyers, judicial and executive officers, and engineers. However, at present, the only gift in history that it represents is a single line on the sign that reads “Established since 1930”. The club’s sign, while still standing in front of its perimeter wall, is mostly faded and difficult to understand.
“Similar to all the clubs established across India during British times, the Gurgaon Club was a place where British officers, lawyers and officials could come out of their rooms, barracks and use it for recreational purposes. Indoor sports, such as darts, billiards, and cards were common, and the place also offered its visitors meals and alcohol. It was set up entirely for a non-profit cause, ”said Atul Dev, organizer, INTACH, Gurgaon Chapter.
Although indicated on the navigation charts, the establishment is difficult to locate, a sign of its oblivion. The courtyard to the rear of the premises began to serve as a dumping ground for neglected items, including a torn and worn three-seater cart and sofa, which may have been used in the club.
Initially owned by the Gurgaon District Board of Directors, the premises were transferred to Zila Parishad in 1999-2000 following the dissolution of the Board of Directors.
During a visit from HT in October, the only people in the club’s premises were three men from Jharsa village, who were sitting in one of the three rooms, sipping alcohol. The bedroom door was broken, the paint was peeling, and the building was riddled with infiltration issues. The only furniture were four plastic chairs, three of which were occupied by men and the fourth by a stray dog.
A second room, connected to the first, was plunged into total darkness. After turning on a light, three plastic chairs and a central table, all stacked on top of each other, lay in disuse. A kitchen adjoining the room was bare, with the only noise emanating from a faulty faucet continually leaking water.
The last room, meanwhile, also showed no sign of the club’s past. Instead, it seemed to serve as makeshift accommodation where a man slept on a timber frame. A central table and a television, with Haryanvi music in the background, were the only other items present at the scene.
The only room in the whole premises that appeared to be well maintained was the bathroom, which appeared to have been recently renovated and fitted with modern amenities.
The men who were present at the club during the visit claimed to be friends of the keeper and said they had been visiting the premises since the late 2000s. “The club has been neglected for a long time now, few come to visit the place and there are no more facilities for recreation anyway. We come here a lot to play cricket, ”said Honey, one of the three men.
“The club is in bad shape and keeps deteriorating. However, his condition has worsened considerably over the past year and a half due to the pandemic as no one is paying attention to his maintenance, ”he said.
With the MCG currently working on setting up a new public club, it seems unlikely that there are any plans to renovate or re-establish the Gurgaon club.
“We have plans to revive and renovate the club with the Municipal Corporation of Gurugram (MCG). We will discuss this issue with the MCG by the end of this month and pursue the issue jointly, ”said Anu Sheokand, CEO of Zila Parishad.
In MCGs ??A 36.38 crore plan for a club, a two-story room, with reserved spaces in two basements for parking, a solar roof to draw electricity, solar street lights and a swimming pool as well as reserved rooms to leisure activities, has been proposed.
A senior MCG official from its engineering wing said the detailed project report (DPR) has been compiled and is currently being reviewed by a consultant to assess its feasibility.
“The plan is to build the club on a vacant 1.8 acre lot near DDR Chowk. The DPR is currently under review. Once completed, the project will be sent to the Direction des Collectivités Territoriales Urbaines (ULB) for reading. Once the ULB has also given its approval, the tendering process will begin, ”said the official, on condition of anonymity.
The official said the club will have a membership system as a prerequisite for benefiting from his services.
As the name suggests, the new club will be called the Gurugram Club, meaning the turn to the future. However, the 90-year-old Gurgaon Club is a reminder of the bygone era, of a past even before it became the Millennium City.