The story behind Vizag’s oldest recreation club

Vizag Vistas: Waltair Club, Vizag

waltair club, vizag
Waltair club, Vizag

Even after all these years, the Waltair Club has an aura of grandeur and elitism that no other club in Vizag could ever match. Our feature writer, G V Ramesh delves into the history of this regal institution.

There are many benchmarks for identifying the high and mighty in any society: limousines and villas are but some of the more prominent and conspicuous ones. But in Vizag, you need another one, a membership. The membership in the premier and the most prestigious club in the city – the Waltair Club – catapults one straight into the league of the who’s who, the people matter the most in this part of the land.

Being the oldest club of recreation, it is but natural that it holds itself aloft on the mast of time towering above others. It owes its historical supremacy to the fact that British had established it during their raj in India. The army battalion and railwaymen of vintage British settlement in Vizag started it. Initially, Spencer and Company was handed over the reins to run it on lease basis since inception in 1908 to 1920. But, subsequently, it has been running in association-mode with elected body at its helm. The native Indians were not allowed to become members during its initial days. But, subsequently, the scenario changed and prominent locals too were allowed to become its members.

The very appearance of majestic buildings in immaculate white tower over the most happening area of Vizag – Siripuram – with a regal countenance, which it acquired not only from its longevity, but also by its exclusivity. Waltair Club once boasted of expansive stables and sheds for horses and horse-drawn-carriages; of course that area has now been metamorphosed into parking lot for swanky limousines. In fact, the club’s primacy can be gauged from the fact that even before Vizag got electrified, it had been electrified; two gigantic diesel generators from Crompton Engineering Company were installed in club premises to power it in 1912. (The point to note, according to Sri Kolluru Jagannadha Rao, the nonagenarian and the most authentic Vizagite as on date, is that Vizag’s electrification modestly started with the help of Vizag Port only in 1930s). This clearly shows the luxury that was prevalent and enjoyed by the club members even during those periods.

Currently, it boasts of the most enviable facilities that any luxury-loving person would aspire for: Expansive halls and lawns for functions, cosy bar for wine aficionados, huge theaters (both open and closed) for movie buffs, snug home theatre for comfortable screening for small groups, thrilling pub for young and energetic, library for book-lovers, wonderful gym for fitness freaks, and what not.

At any time, the thousands of applicants from the neo ultra-rich and mighty, proves a point or two about its coveted regal legacy. It is that elitism and selectiveness that adds to the magnetic mysticism of the Waltair Club.

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