Saturday, Apr 19, 2003
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By Our Staff Reporter
Laid out in the 1850s during the days of the late Maharajah Sreemoolam Tirunal, the golf course here is one of the oldest in the country and is more than 150 years old. The club was reportedly the hunting lodge of the Maharajahs of erstwhile Travancore and later their private golf course, maintained as the exclusive preserve of British Residents and their political agents, according to a heritage certificate issued by the Department of Archaeology.
The restoration work of the main club house is now being undertaken by the club authorities with a grant of Rs. 12.65 lakhs from the Government. The work is being supervised by the Chief Town Planner. The building, of about 7,000 sq. ft., is typical of the old buildings of the colonial era and is Pagoda shaped.
The entire roof structure in teak wood is supported by huge, intricately carved wooden pillars. The ornamental roof has four elaborately carved `heads' facing the four sides.
Apart from routine maintenance, no major work had been done to preserve the building so far. The restoration work was initiated after one of the wooden pillars supporting the roof sank because of termite infestation. Much of the wood work had also been affected and many carved pieces had either fallen off or was missing.
According to the club authorities, the work was initiated by taking photographs, including close-up shots from several angles, to ensure that the old structure was retained as such.
The architects and engineers who commenced the work are still marvelling at the elaborate engineering work that has gone into the structure. Even though the base of one of the supporting pillars had been eaten away by termites, the structure would not have fallen as there were several tiers of beams inside the plastered wall, all the way to the roof. The roof tiles had been laid on two layers of teak reapers, which had GI sheets in between. The walls had been lined with coconut fibre before plastering it with lime mortar.
All the roof tiles are now being replaced by tiles which were recovered from a demolished old palace. The lime mortar finish is being changed to concrete, with a putty finish so that it is termite-proof and retains the old look.
The building has an antique door with elaborate trellis work, which is also being restored fully. The missing pieces - incuding one of the `heads' on the roof _ were made separately and re-attached. Exhaustive termite treatment has also been done. The nine-hole golf course here is one of the smallest in the country, but one of the prettiest. The 25-acre course has over 3,400 trees belonging to over 1,000 species and is one of the green lungs of the city. The oldest recognized golf club anywhere outside Britain is the Royal Calcutta Golf Club, which was opened in 1829. The first official golf club in North America was formed in 1873 while Europe had its first golf course built in 1880s.
This means that the royal family of erstwhile Travancore had established this golf course even before the Americans and the Europeans took to the game. With the Royal Calcutta Golf Club finding a new site for its golf course in early 1900, the Trivandrum Golf Club, by default, is the oldest in the country now. The club authorities have long been demanding that the immense tourist prospects of the golf course, affiliated to the Indian Golf Union, be tapped. The club has been attracting a lot of foreign tourists, who include many diplomats and businessmen.
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