The Parmananddas Jivandas Hindu Gymkhana, which can, without any exaggeration, claim to be the pioneer Hindu sporting Institution in the Country was founded in the year 1894. The foundation was laid by a few young enthusiasts studying in the then Elphinstone High School in the year 1878.
These young enthusiasts, finding that great strides had been made by the Parsi Community of Bombay in the game of Cricket, started in that year a Club known as the game "Hindu Cricket Club" for encouraging the game of cricket amongst the Hindu public of this City. They had their practice pitch on the Esplanade Maidan Ground. The Club used to arrange regular matches with the local parsee clubs. In the year 1894, the Bombay Gymkhana, the premier European Cricket Institution in the City, recognising the great strides made by the Hindu Club in the game of Cricket, agreed to play a match with the club for the first time, and this became a regular annual fixture.
As the membership of the Club began to increase, the authorities of the Club felt the necessity of having a building of their own to house the Club. It was however their desire that such a building should be located somewhere on or about the Esplanade Maiden where they had their practice pitches, but as they could not succeed in securing such a plot, no progress was made in the matter for some time.
When, however, a plot of ground on the Kennedy Sea Face (now known as Marine Drive) next to the then existing Parsee Gymkhana was granted by the government of bombay to the Mohamedan community for the purpose of a Gymkhana, the members of the Hindu Cricket Club thought that if they did not take any prompt action in the matter, the available sites on the Kennedy Sea Face may be allotted to other Institutions. Then, in the year 1892, they began to make serious efforts in the matter and earnestly to collect donations for the same. Having obtained donations from a few leading members of the Club, to wit, Rs. 10,000/- from the late Mr. Gordhandas Parmanddas Jivandas, Rs. 2,500/- from the late Mr. Gordhandas Goculdas Tejpal and Rs. 2,500/- from the late Mr. Gordhandas Khatau and the late Mr. Mulraj Khatau, They applied to the Government of Bombay, they, during the regime of Lord Harris, the popular Cricket loving Governor of Bombay, for a plot of ground on the kennedy Sea Face. The Government considered the application favourably and granted a plot of 20,000 square yards at a nominal rental of Rs. 12/- per year.
In due course, the Hindu Cricket Club authorities appointed a provisional committee consisting of some members of the Club and some representatives of the Hindu Public in the city and entrusted to them the work of collecting further donations for the Gymkhana building Rs.12,000/- and with the donations of Rs. 15,000/- above referred to, they erected a pavilion consisting of a ground floor and laid out two tennis courts and a cricket ground.
The Gymkhana was named "Parmananddas Jivandas Hindu Gymkhana" in memory of the father of the chief donor who had contributed a magnificent sum of Rs. 10,000/- The Gymkhana was duly opened on 5th May 1894, by His Excellency Lord Harris, the then Governor of Bombay.
The main object of the pioneers in starting the Institution was to foster the game of Cricket among the Hindu. How soon and how well this was achieved can be gauged from the following facts. Within two years of the starting of the Institution, the Bombay Gymkhana and the Poona Gymkhana, both entirely European Institutions, offered to play matches against the Hindus as represented by the P. J. Hindu Gymkhana on equal terms.
Not only that, in the year 1906, the Bombay Gymkhana arranged a 'Representative Match," between the Hindus and the Europeans. A further advance was achieved in 1907, when the Hindus were given equal status with the Parsees and were allowed to play "Representative" first class cricket. The representative matches restricted to the Europeans and the Parsees thus far, became a Triangular contest, with the Hindus joining in and that was some achievement. All this apart, during the one hundred twenty years that the Gymkhana has been in existence, it has given the State and the country several cricketers of repute, some of whom could easily be ranked among the world's best.
With a modest beginning in 1894, when the Gymkhana had a membership of 332, it started expanding slowly but surely. With more and more members joining the Gymkhana, it had, perforce, to introduce new games and provide more amenities. A kind donation of Rs. 1,400/- from the late Shri Tribhowandas Mangaldas Nathuhai in 1896, enabled the Committee to provide two more Tennis courts, which in turn, made it possible for them to organise a Tennis Tournament for the members in the same year. The Gymkhana Cricketers, not to be outdone in matters tennis, gave a proof of their all round ability, when, in 1904, tow of their eminent cricketers, the late Shri P. K. Baloo won the doubles event.
All this while, the membership kept on increasing and in 1926, there were over a thousand members on the roll. This necessitated the extension of the existing premises, which was carried out during that year. Even after the extension, the accommodation available was found to be inadequate and in 1928, the Committee decided to demolish the old building and to construct a more commodious one in its place. The new building, a one storeyed structure, was completed in the year 1929.
A serious fire broke out on the premises in 1963, destroying property, old records and other valuable assets. The Committee did not lose heart, but faced all these misfortunes with equanimity, determination and confidence. To raise funds, it decided immediately to increase the membership to 4,000. To offset the loss of a portion of the premises, it decided to add an extension to the existing portion on its northern side. The plans for the proposed extension were got ready and the P.W.D. and Municipal approval was obtained for the same. The foundation stone for the extension was laid on the 24th of October 1964 by Shri S. K. Wankhede, the Honorable Minister for Finance, Government of Maharashtra and the President of the Bombay Cricket Association.
The year 1964 proved to be an important one for the Gymkhana, inasmuch as, apart from the fact that work of the extension was started, its constitution was revised to suit the new conditions and a new class membership, namely, Associate Members" was introduced and the Membership rose to 3883 by the end of that year.
The Gymkhana, at present having a membership of about 7,406 is housed in these new premises consisting a ground and two upper floor. Thus the Gymkhana has progressed during the years, and the photographs published elsewhere in this presentation gives an idea as to how the premises changed shape and size from year to meet the demands of the increasing membership.
The Gymkhana has made considerable contribution to Cricket in India in general and in Bombay in particular. The Gymkhana was the sponsor of the Hindu sides that partici - pated in the Triangular, Quadrangular and Pentangular Tournaments which were so popular among the cricket lovers in Bombay. The Gymkhana sends out teams to play matches at different centres in the country and outstation teams are entertained here. It provides excellent practice pitches for the use of its members, and it makes similar arrangements for the Bombay Cricket Association, if called upon to do so. The Gymkhana has played its part in doing the pioneering work for the formation and establishment of the Board of Control for Cricket in India and Bombay Cricket Association.
As in Cricket, in other games like Tennis, Billiards, Badminton and Table Tennis also the Gymkhana has produced players not only of India class, but also World class. Our members have played and captained the all-India Teams in International games, in India and abroad, in Cricket, Badminton and Table - Tennis. In Table - Tennis, especially, our performances have been unique, inasmuch as, in the year 1963, the India's Team representing the country against Yugoslavia, and also at the Asian Games comprised of all players who were Gymkhana members. The players were Sarvashri J. C. Vora, R. R. Chachad, G. R. Divan, F. R. Khodaiji and P. P. Haldankar. Out of this lot, all except Shri F. R. Khodaiji participated in that year's World Table Tennis Tournament held at prague. One of our other members, Shri Sudhir K. Thackersey, had the honour of being the non - playing Captain of India that year.
The Gymkhana has contributed considerably towards the progress of Sports and game in Bombay and the rest of India, by organising Open Tournaments and encouraging the youth of the country by giving them a chance to see and play against the World class players in action and also of playing with them. World's top Billiards players like Kingsley Kennerly, Wilson Jones, and Robert Marshal, have exhibited their skill on our Billiards table, thus affording a golden opportunity to our players to emulate them.
Along with the service that the Gymkhana has rendered to the sporting activities of its members, it has also catered to the social side as well. Social gatherings were arranged from time to time, annual athletic meets and fancy dress competitions were held. Treasure Hunt for motorists were also organised from time to time. Contributory Dinners for members and their guests, dramas, film shows, kite-flying competitions, picnics, musical concerts, etc., form regular part of the Gymkhana's annual programmes.
The Gymkhana has not lagged behind in the matter of contributing to any deserving cause, national or otherwise. It has contributed most generously to charities and funds, such as, Gujarat Relief Fund, Bengal Cyclone Fund, Bihar Famine Fund, Prime Minister's Drought Relief Fund, National Defence Fund, ect. It has helped in raising funds for deserving Cricketers and their families, and has admitted some outstanding sportsmen, who could not afford to join the Gymkhana for financial reasons, as Honorary Members, or made them regular members and charged them nominal fees.
With such a large membership to be catered to, one would expect an Institution like the Gymkhana to, it not completely neglect, at least treat the welfare of the Staff as of secondary importance. But this has never been the case. The Committee always had the welfare of the members of the Staff foremost in their minds, and this was amply proved when in 1959 the Staff Welfare Fund was started with the primary object of giving educational help to the children of the members of the Staff and Medical aid to their families.
In the end, one can safely say, looking to the enthusiasm of the members and the cooperation given by them and the general public that as glorious a future is assured for the Gymkhana as the past has been. Amen.