Pune: The Royal Connaught Boat Club Pune, which celebrated its 150th anniversary recently, is one of only two Royal clubs in the country. Although it was an addition by the Britishers to Pune’s culture, today, the club with all Indian members, continues to beam and carry forward the legacy.
The club was created after the construction of a bund across the Mula-Mutha confluence in 1850. It was renamed as the ‘Poona Royal Connaught Boat Club’ in 1888 to honour the Duke of Connaught, Prince Arthur, the then Commander-in-Chief of the Bombay Army, who had a keen interest in the club’s activities. In 1928, it was renamed once again as ‘Royal Connaught Boat Club’ and the word ‘Poona’ was removed since the boat had made its mark.
Giving an insight into the olden days, gynaecologist Dr Vishwas Yevale said, “My friends and I from Boat Club noticed how the river water over the years got polluted. I felt that instead of waiting for the authorities to take action against it, we should do something to improve the situation. That’s how the idea of river cleaning clicked to me and we started river cleaning, which eventually resulted in Jal Dindi movement. He said that he had often seen kayaking in the Mula-Mutha river.”
Reminiscing about the food that was served during British members of the club, member Qusai Kachwala said, “50 years back, all the chefs of the club were Britishers and the members relished the cuisine, which was totally different. The cuisine would include everything from hot dogs to grilled sandwiches.”
“There’s no other club in the city that has such an excellent swimming pool and us senior citizens enjoy a lot. Here, we are all members age no bar and thus you will get to see a 25-year old sitting and chatting in our senior citizen’s group,” stated Kamal Dhole Patil, a politician.