Secunderabad Club blaze ravages a slice of Hyderabad’s history

A view of the Colonnade Bar, patterned in old British style, that was destroyed in the blaze at the Secunderabad Club in the early hours of Sunday.

A view of the Colonnade Bar, patterned in old British style, that was destroyed in the blaze at the Secunderabad Club in the early hours of Sunday.

Only the granite pillars stood intact amid the swirling smoke and slush of overnight rain and water poured by 10 fire engines. Security staff created a barricade and stopped people from entering on Sunday morning as the city woke up to the news of 3-a.m. blaze that left the main building of Secunderabad Club in a charred hulk.

“It is unrecognisable now. It was a building with extensive use of wooden beams, and wooden staircase with Mangalore tile roof. Now, the sky is visible,” said Anuradha Reddy, a club member and historian.

Club members who visited the site in the morning informed that the burnt section included the Colonnade (the British-era men-only bar), the iconic wooden staircase, billiards and snooker room, and the ballroom. While the Colonade was filled with hunting trophies and other antiques, the blaze also destroyed an 1878 snooker table.

Among the first visitors to the site was B. Vijay Kumar who has been a member of the club for the past 51 years.

“It is like a second home to me with my family members, including my children and grandchildren, frequenting the club. I am told the blaze has destroyed the secretariat and with it, the records would have been lost,” pointed out Mr. Kumar.

Gift of Salar Jung

The building destroyed in the blaze was a gift of Salar Jung and was earlier used as a hunting lodge.

“The British Resident used to occasionally function from Bolarum Residency (presently titled Rashtrapati Nilayam as it is used by the President for winter sojourn). Whenever Salar Jung had to meet the Resident, he would stop over and get into full regalia before meeting the Resident,” informed Ms. Reddy.

Once the Resident visited the hunting lodge, he took a shine to it. Salar Jung gifted it to the Secunderabad Club which became a watering hole for the British Army Officers in 1878.

The Secunderabad Club began as Secunderabad Public Rooms on April 26, 1878, that was located near present-day Tivoli Cinema. The name changed to Secunderabad Garrison Club, Secunderabad Gymkhana Club and then United Services Club allowing membership from all wings of the services. In March 1903, the name was changed to Secunderabad Club and the change coincided with the gift by Salar Jung I who was the Prime Minister of Hyderabad State. Ironically, a bar called 1878, as a tribute to the foundation year, has also been destroyed in the blaze.

The club remains an exclusive preserve. Till 1947, only British officers were presidents of the club. The first native to become president of the club was Gen El-Edroos of Hyderabad Army. After Indian Army overran Hyderabad, Gen J.N. Chaudhuri became its president.

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Printable version | May 17, 2022 8:47:03 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/secunderabad-club-blaze-ravages-a-slice-of-hyderabads-history/article38279560.ece