The India Club in London, a cherished establishment with deep roots in India's independence movement and known as a hub for nationalists including Krishna Menon, is set to shutter its doors on September 17, 2023, following a protracted struggle to stave off closure.
After 26 years of stewardship, proprietors Yadgar Marker and his daughter Phiroza have announced the forthcoming closure, marking the end of an era.
Initiating a "Save India Club" campaign several years ago, the Marker family's efforts to salvage the historic institution ultimately proved unsuccessful.
"It is with a heavy heart that we announce the closure of the India Club, with our final day open to the public being September 17," they expressed in a sombre statement.
Originally conceived as the headquarters for the India League, the India Club has played host to various Indian organisations in London, including the Indian Journalists' Association, the Indian Workers' Association, and the Indian Socialist Group.
These groups once convened at this historic address, 143–144 Strand, London.
Notable figures, including India's first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and Lady Mountbatten, the wife of the last viceroy, were counted among the club's esteemed membership.
The India Club, which The Daily Telegraph described as more than just a restaurant, transported guests to the energetic atmosphere of 1960s Calcutta and captured the spirit of that time.
While its décor didn't align with contemporary trends of sophistication, this uniqueness was central to its charm. The India Club has acquired cult classic status over the years.
Established in 1951 by Krishna Menon, India's first High Commissioner to London, the India Club carried out a profound mission.
It symbolised post-independence Indo-British camaraderie and offered a platform for fostering cultural connections.
Author Smita Tharoor, daughter of one of the club's founding members, lamented the closure, reflecting on the memories her father associated with the club.
Smita's brother, Congress MP Shashi Tharoor, expressed his sadness on social media, emphasising the institution's role in providing a home away from home for many Indians.
Situated across from the Indian High Commission and the BBC's Bush House studios, the India Club attracted a diverse clientele over the decades.
Regular patrons ranged from India House employees to journalists, legal professionals from the nearby Royal Courts of Justice, and scholars from the London School of Economics and King's College.
Dr Christopher Cragg, a longtime patron and former Financial Times journalist, bemoaned the impending closure, highlighting the establishment's significance as an institution that held a unique place in London's landscape.
The club's closure, seen as a loss of a valuable asset, struck a chord with many who cherished its distinctive character.
The India Club's closure reflects an ongoing tension between preserving heritage and the inexorable march of modernity.
As the curtains fall on this iconic venue, it serves as a reminder that a place's true significance often lies not in its grandeur but in the memories and connections it forges with those who experience it.
ALSO READ | How India's Necklace Of Diamonds Strategy Plans To Strangle China