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Mumbai: Jain body takes over Wilson College Gymkhana

Updated on: 19 March,2024 07:13 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Hemal Ashar |

Jewel of a gymkhana changes hands; joins other siblings standing proud on swish Marine Drive stretch

Mumbai: Jain body takes over Wilson College Gymkhana

The iconic Wilson College Gymkhana

The state government has allocated more than one lakh square feet of land to the Jain International Organisation (JIO) on a 30-year lease. This land is for a Jain Gymkhana on Marine Drive, next to the Hindu Gymkhana. This plot currently houses Wilson College Gymkhana.

The JIO organisation refused to comment for confirmation with a customer executive from the office stating, “Nobody has information right now. Send an email to the address on our website and we will revert.”

Sources said, “The plot will be given on a 30-year lease to the Jain International Organisation which has approximately 33 lakh members.”

The Wilson College Gymkhana established in 1832 stands on this plot. It has been with the Wilson management for over 100 years.

Sources said, “The lease seems to have expired and it looks like the  mismanagement of the Gymkhana has led to the lease not being renewed in favour of the college.”

Wilson College principal Prof. Anna Pratima Nikalje did not respond to calls or messages seeking comment on the news. This is a very significant development in the south Mumbai clubs and gymkhana space, with prime clubs, like the Royal Western India Turf Club (RWITC) and the Willingdon Club, Tardeo hitting the headlines now. 

Marine Drive is a premier, high-visibility spot, and the gymkhanas on the stretch, beginning from Catholic Gymkhana, Police Gymkhana, Wilson Gymkhana, Hindu Gymkhana, Islam Gymkhana and Parsi Gymkhana are the city’s most identifiable and well-known clubs with much-coveted membership and aspirational value. Several of these gymkhanas have years of history and are part of the social and sporting fabric of this city.

Adv. Cyril S Dara, secretary, Christian Reform United People Association (CRUPA), working towards protecting Church properties, said, “Wilson College had commercialised this property. One would hardly see any sports activities conducted there and instead, the gymkhana plot was used largely for commercial purposes like weddings etc. This is perhaps why the lease was not renewed. Here, we have an example of how persons within the community itself have misused the plot, resulting in non-renewal of the lease and this landmark, historic sporting jewel of a gymkhana slipping from their hands.”

It is learnt that BJP leader Mangal Prabhat Lodha spearheaded the Jain effort. Lodha though denied the ‘spearhead’ role. He simply said, “I will only say that it has gone to the right organisation and they will conduct many social activities that will benefit Mumbai.”

The Wilson College Gymkhana’s stunning, heritage building witnessed a fire in 2015. The fire had gutted the roof and top floor of the building. Several cricket pitches on the ground were also damaged then. At that time, former college principal Vishwas Sirwaiya had stated, “The gymkhana is a part of the Wilsonian legacy and will always be.” 

Year Wilson College Gymkhana was established

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