As Govt blows heritage trumpet, OLDEST GOLF CLUB DIES UNHEARD
KGC craves for life amid ruined greens, growing dogs
AT a time when the government is blowing trumpet of spending millions on heritage conservation in Srinagar–Kashmir Golf Club –a oldest golf course in the subcontinent –is dying unheard in this historic City –right under the nose of those higher-ups who could have restored the KGC glory dating back to over a century.
For now, this once pride hangout, which had been an unmistakable attraction since 19th century, is literally a scene of sorrow tale where neglect is growing fat with each passing day, like the marshy weeds, bushes and dogs, all taking over the greens.
THE LOCALE AND LEGACY
Nestled in the heels of the picturesque Sulaiman Hills, the KGC spanning over 500 odd kanals of land dotted by majestic Chinars, provided perfect locale because of being ideally situated between the tourist hub of Dalgate and the City centre of Lal Chowk.
The icing on the cake had been its heritage tag of being oldest golf course in the state developed somewhere around middle of the 19th century for the then Dogra Maharajas, and the British Residency, who would come holidaying to Kashmir from the then neighbouring India they ruled.
For matter of historicity, the KGC is the second oldest club in the country after the royal golf course of Talay Gunj in Kolkatta, introduced by the then British empire.
THE PRIDE PRODUCTS
And then times changed with change of empires. Apart from the local golfers, for whom this place became their second home, where they loved spend leisure, the KGC produced some of the famed players of global repute like Jyoti Randhawa and Daniel Chopra.
If oldies are to be believed even the Flying Man of India, Milkha Singh during his visits to Kashmir wouldn’t miss to play golf at this 18-hole course.
As the golden era pictures of this golf course go on the club walls, after the Dogra Maharajas, the National Conference founder and then Chief Minister Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah dominates the photo frames for teeing off the prestigious events, which the place would host.
As for his celebrity son and golf lover, Union Minister Dr Farooq Abdullah, he used to be a regular face at the KGC.
Like most others, Abdullah enjoyed spending evenings on the greens and barely ever missed to relish yummy mutton Kanti, which the club was equally famed for.
Observers say it was because of the personal efforts of Dr Abdullah, that after a few years of closure of the club following onset of militancy, its activities could be resumed in 1996.
That time Dr Abdullah, the then Chief Minister is believed to have gifted away money to restart the club life.
But within a few years, impetus was given to develop other golf courses in the state, while KGC legacy started to fade away in the dazzling prominence fuelled to the new greens.
THE GUEST SHOCK
Though, for now, it could be hard to believe, the KGC happens to be the only golf club in the state which enjoys affiliation of some of the famed clubs like the Bombay Presidency and the Royal Calcutta Club in the metropolitans.
But elite guests from these golfing hangouts could get a shock of their life and equally bring disrepute for the state’s tourism, should they happen to visit the KGC, which for now is nothing but in shambles.
Many say many things about what led to the KGC decay. While some attribute the club downfall to alleged misgivings of the state’s Tourism Ministry, which could have conserved this legacy, others say the KGC Executive Body could not well cash some government offers.
Is the government at fault or the managing body of this private club? Who intrigued what, and why?
Reasons could be many to keep the blame-game alive, or snowball it into controversy. But for now, this gaming hangout is dying.
Unheard, but quite visibly along the MA Road, frequented by the government top brass including Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah and the Chief Secretary, Madhav Lal, who traverse the plush route and happen to be the KGC’s President and the Chairman, respectively.
So somewhere midway down the Civil Secretariat-Gupkar route, this royal legacy is literally going to dogs.
At the KGC, much like elsewhere in the City, stray packs are seen barking and prowling around. This is the present plight of the yesteryear hangout, where only a privileged few enjoyed entry, when the then neighbouring India was ruled by the British!
(To be concluded)
Lastupdate on : Tue, 8 May 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Tue, 8 May 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Wed, 9 May 2012 00:00:00 IST
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