#MumbaiList: Gymkhanas That Serve As Social, Cultural And Sports Hubs

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Recreational centers, sports arenas or simply places that facilitate social gatherings, ‘Gymkhanas’ can be defined in many ways. A gymkhana was originally defined as a place of  assembly but the meaning was then altered to denote a place where skill based contests were held. But most commonly, a gymkhana is a social and sporting club and mostly every area boasts of one such prominent club.

It was during the British era that several gymkhanas came into existence in our city and they continue to exist in full glory even today. We take you through some of the oldest gymkhanas of Mumbai introducing you to the facets that make them so popular.

Bombay Gymkhana. Image by panoramio.com.

Bombay Gymkhana: One of the most prestigious gymkhanas in the city, the Bombay Gymkhana came into being in 1875. It was formed as a one-stop destination to amalgamate various sporting clubs such as the hockey, football, golf, cricket, gun and boat clubs into one association. The club was designed by English architect, Claude Batley and the membership was initially open only to Europeans, social status and an interest in sports being an important criterion for membership. The Bombay Gymkhana is today home to several sporting facilities including cricket, rugby, football, swimming, tennis, squash etc. The ground here has hosted India’s first Test cricket match in 1993. Several sporting tournaments and national level competitions continue to be regularly held at the gymkhana. Membership at this gymkhana comes at a premium price and it can take years for new members to get admitted.

Where: Bombay Gymkhana Ltd, MG Road, Fort, Mumbai 400 001
Contact: 022 2207 0311-12-13-14
Email: bombaygym@bombaygymkhana.com
Willingdon Catholic Gymkhana. Image by wgc.net.in

Willingdon Catholic Gymkhana: It started out as a small club house in 1928 for the Catholic residents of Santacruz. Over the years Willingdon Catholic Gymkhana has joined the ranks of the most popular clubs in the city. It serves as a hotspot for several cultural events owing to its facilities which include three restaurants, indoor and outdoor banquet areas, a conference room and much more. Members can try their hand at a number of sports ranging from tennis, swimming, squash and badminton to outdoor sports events including softball cricket, rink football, rink hockey, basketball and so on. There are several membership categories in the gymkhana and related inquiries can be made during office hours at the gymkhana office.

Where: Church Avenue, Santacruz (W), Mumbai – 400 054
Contact: 022 26497531
Email: office@wcg.net.in
P.J.Hindu Gymkhana. Image by flickriver.com

P.J. Hindu Gymkhana: Originally started as the Hindu Cricket Club in 1878, the P.J. Hindu Gymkhana located at Marine Drive was inaugurated in 1894. Initially the membership was open only to Hindus but with the coming of the Islam and Parsi Gymkhanas in the adjacent area, the membership was thrown open to Parsis and Muslims as well. The huge gymkhana lawn serves as a venue for cricket tournaments and social functions like weddings, parties etc. They house several sporting amenities and are famously known for the tournaments organized here, including the Purshottam Shield Cricket Tournament, which is one of the oldest tournament it hosts. The Gymkhana has been identified as a Heritage Grade IIA structure. Picturesquely situated opposite the gorgeous Marine Drive, it serves as an ideal location for several high profile weddings that are frequently held here.

Where: Netaji Subhash Road, Marine Lines, Mumbai – 400020
Contact: 022 22812126
Parsee Gymkhana. Image by parseegymkhana.com

Parsee Gymkhana – Adjacent to the Hindu Gymkhana is the Parsee Gymkhana which was established in 1887. The structure of the heritage gymkhana is modeled around the English county pavilion which had a verandah for the players, an upper verandah for the other gymkhana members and a turreted roof. Members at this gymkhana can indulge in various sports and other events including food festivals, musical evenings, and the popular Tambola games on Sunday evenings. The gymkhana lawns are also available for social functions. They have several membership categories ranging from temporary members to ordinary members, honorary life members and so on. Ladies are not eligible for the membership of the gymkhana except for Sports, Corporate, Patron and Associate Lady member categories.

Where: Marine Lines, Mumbai 400 002
Contact: 022 2281 1869
Email: parseegymkhana@yahoo.co.in
Islam Gymkhana. Image by commons.wikimedia.org

Islam Gymkhana – Joining the cluster of gymkhanas on Marine Drive is the Islam Gymkhana founded in 1890. These three gymkhanas are primarily responsible for promoting the game of cricket. The original pavilion of Islam Gymkhana was designed by Mr. Ibrahim Ahmedi a leading architect in those days while the existing pavilion was designed by the famous architect Mr. I.M.Kadri. The headquarters of the Bombay Cricket Association were located at this gymkhana premises till they shifted to the Cricket Club of India in 1942. The gymkhana offers coaching in various sporting fields including cricket and billiards, a yoga and spa facility in addition to conference and party halls and various sports tournaments that are regularly held here. The membership is open to all communities.

Where: 75-A, Netaji Subhash Road, Marine Lines, Mumbai-400002
Contact: 022 22813292
Email: info@islamgymkhana.com
The pool at Khar Gymkhana. Image by khargymkhana.com

Khar Gymkhana: It was a passion for sports that lead to the formation of the Khar Gymkhana in 1935. Over the years the gymkhana has offered a wide range of sports activities, professional coaching and hosted several tournaments at state and national levels that have seen the growth and emergence of several champion sportspeople. It started as a cricket club but branched out to include other sports like table tennis, billiards, snooker, squash, badminton etc. Khar Gymkhana houses an elevated swimming pool, a three-level restaurant, a multipurpose hall and several other amenities making it popular in the area. Members can entertain their guests and revel in festivities on all major festivals that are celebrated at the gymkhana. A host of membership opportunities are available for interested patrons.

Where: 13th Road, Khar(W), Mumbai – 400 052
Contact: 022 42107689

Adding to this list are the Catholic Gymkhana, the Police Gymkhana and the many other area-specific gymkhanas. Though the membership to these famous clubs may not be easy and very friendly on the pocket, once you become a member there are various benefits and luxuries that await you.

Tell us about the gymkhana in your area and what you love about it. Write in to us at story@mumbaimag.com or comment below.

Post By Esha Verma (33 Posts)

Writing is a passion I discovered a little late. But better late than never. When not penning my thoughts, you'll find me sniffing around for good food - trying out every new restaurant in town is a hobby. I swear by Hindi films and when doing nothing of the above you'll find me troubling my pet pooch.

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Esha Verma

Esha Verma
Writing is a passion I discovered a little late. But better late than never. When not penning my thoughts, you'll find me sniffing around for good food - trying out every new restaurant in town is a hobby. I swear by Hindi films and when doing nothing of the above you'll find me troubling my pet pooch.