In the early days of the British Raj, Guwahati was a peaceful little town. The Brahmaputra flower by majestically, lining the surrounding blue hills with a silver splash and adding to its charm. The riverside was both beautiful and tranquil, and was the favorite of European officers. Quite naturally therefore when a club, christened the European Club of Gauhati, opened its doors in the winter of 1894, it was on the banks of the red river
The European Club of Guwahati, we may presume, was not an exception. It was full of fun and life. The members played bridge, billiards, table tennis, slosh, snooker, badminton and lawn tennis every day. Cultural evenings and fancy dress competitions were held frequently. Situated in the premises of the present judges’ bungalow, it also had three fishing boats anchored in the river for its members. For grass widowers who send their wives to England during the summers, the club and the holy water of Scotland was a balm for their loneliness. One interesting anecdote about the club dates back to a hot summer day in 1901 when FW Sudmerson’s disenchantment with the town unsettled club members so much that they took care to ensure regular supply of ice to his dak bungalow room to “cool him down”.
Of course no Indian was allowed to become member of the European Club of Guwahati. The only Indians allowed inside its premises were malis, cooks, attendants and two barbers. Later, a few Indians were allowed as half members but they were deprived of voting rights and many other privileges. It was this discriminatory attitude towards the Indians that led an elite section of Guwahati to start a parallel club, the India Club, in 1933.
After the fire a new building was arranged to house the club, at the present site of the High Court. The character and facilities of the club remained the same, though a small golf course was added. Unfortunately for club site to house the Gauhati High Court and acquired the land for a compensation of Rs 1,21,603.15.
The burra sahibs of two prominent streamer companies, RSN Co and IGN Co who were operating in Guwahati now came forward to rescue the club from closure. They anchored two ‘steamer flats’ called Dilwara and Cashmere at
After Independence the club admitted the Indians as full members and S N Baruah, B C Das, Mahmud Ali and P P Duara were among the first to acquire the privilege. Justice Ramlabhaya became the first to acquire the privilege. Justice Ramlabhaya became the first Indian president of the club which was then renamed the Gauhati Club.