The Secunderabad Club - a brief history of the lost heritage structure

     1902 image Secunderabad Club,  Secunderabad

In the state of Telangana which is part of erstwhile Princely state of Nizam during the British rule, there is no dearth of colonial buildings or structures of historical importance.  The legacy of colonial rule is very much rooted here in the twin cities of Hyderabad and secunderabad as in the cities of Madras (Chennai), Kolkata and Bombay (Mumbai) etc.  

One among the five oldest clubs in India,  the Secunderabad Club,   an elite club, came into being  on 26 April 1878  under the name of  the Secunderabad Public Rooms. In the past the club went by different names - the Secunderabad Gymkhana Club and the United Services Club. Finally the present name became a permanent one. 

The 3rd Nizam - Sikandar Jah had an alliance with the British under the Crown administration and part of the deal included availing the british military for the security of the state. the British Army Garrisons that were stationed in Secunderabad and as the members were mostly from the garrison, the club was then known as Garrison club.

Consistently the Nizam had cordial relation with the Raj and consequently the population of the British community in this part increased.  Many British were in the employ of the Nizam and most of them were with the British India military and  civil administration to run the railways, Judiciary, etc., in the state. More British officers were employed to take care of  revenue reforms in the state,   electricity, potable water works etc.  In the 19th century the name  Garrison Club was replaced by United Services Club  and the club ceased to be an army club.  

Salar Jung I, the Prime Minister of Hyderabad State donated the hunting lodge to the  British resident  as the other  club building which the resident frequented was  not in good condition. The Nizam wanted the resident to spend his time comfortably in a nice building with pleasant  ambiance.  The building is set on a plot of 22 acres of greenery. This place  served as a sojourn for the Nizam’s prime minister. It so happened the club was renamed  Secunderabad Club on the basis of its location when it was shifted to the present location in 1903. 

Situated in the Tokatta village, which was Salar Jung’s Jagir. descendants of Salar Jung can become members without  admission fee or any pre-condition even today.  Until 1947, Presidents of the Club were only British  and a few high-ranking nobility were offered membership in  the Secunderabad Club.So, racial and class disparity was very much there. This is the reason why the Irish satirist Bernard Shaw once said 'Sane people will avoid Social Clubs run by the British. 

After independence the club is being run by Indians mostly army or police personnel The club is famous for exotic food  The club has a golf course, cricket ground  and a sailing club. Members throng this place on the weekends  for fun  and relaxation  in a sort of colonial ambiance.  

Last year january the people of this twin city lost most parts of this heritage building  in a fire accident  in the early hours of the 15th of January, 2022.  The towering inferno destroyed almost all the heritage items in the club that date back to more than 120 years.  and the massive fire completely gutted the 144-year-old historic main building.