The Dehra Dun Club, founded in the year 1878, is one of the oldest clubs in the country. According to the late Mr. Prem Hari Har Lal, a distinguished member of the Club and an erudite historian of the Doon Valley, "it was originally housed in Col. Young`s bungalow where St. Joseph`s Academy now is.". The club was incorporated as a limited liability entity in February 1901 as the Dehra Dun Club Limited. Shortly thereafter, the club purchased the land on which it presently stands, then known as "Rangers Court Estate", No. 3 New Survey Road, for a sum of Rs. 18,200/- vide sale deed dated 15.03.1903. The building work was started under the supervision of Col. Philimore of the Survey of India. The colonel and his wife spent their last days residing in the Club and writing the history of his Department.
The Club remained a bastion of the Raj till 1947, with Indians being accepted as members in minuscule numbers. With the Union Jack being lowered and India attaining Independence, the British members resolved to dispose off the club property, divide the proceeds among the remaining members and close down the institution.
It was the tenacity of the few India members, in particular of Col. Kunwar Shamsher Bahadur Singh, assisted by the then District Magistrate of Dehra Dun Mr. B.D. Sanwal, ICS, that saved the Club. Col. K. Shamsher Bahadur Singh moved the Allahabad High Court and got the liquidation proceedings annulled. The Dehra Dun Club thus survived the pull-out of the British and today ranks as one of the oldest and most prestigious institutions of its kind in the country, blending tradition with modernity.
The Club today is a tranquil island of greenery amidst growing urban build-up. It occupies a total land area of 23,378 sq. mtrs. of which 4,688.50 sq. mtrs. is covered area, the rest being open space. It has two spacious lawns, studded with stately trees, some of them ages old. It has one main Clubhouse and two residential blocks with 14 well appointed rooms. A variety of sports and recreational facilities exist for both indoor and outdoor activities. The facilities include a large parquet wooden floor dance/meeting hall, A/C Rummy rooms, A/C Bridge room, A/C Billiards room which houses 2 Billiard tables, a covered squash court, two indoor badminton halls with wooden flooring, two tennis courts, a swimming pool, A/C Gymnasium, a cricket pitch, A/C well equipped library (which boasts of a collection of some rare books which are hard to be found today) and reading room, an Air-conditioned Bar which stocks finest brands of premium drinks, wines, beer and imported Scotch, an Air-conditioned Dining Hall and a Family Lounge. For the youngsters, there is a Children’s Den which has indoor games like, Carrom, Chess and Pool for the younger generation. No wonder Dehra Dun Club is a prized, preferred destination for the cream of Dehra Dun society.
The Club is managed by a Managing Committee comprising of eight Members and the President. Traditionally, five civilians are elected every year to serve as Members of the Managing Committee and three serving officers of the Armed Forces are nominated by the three major Military Formation Messes of Dehra Dun, viz. the Indian Military Academy, Uttarakhand Sub Area and the Golden Key Division. The President is also directly elected by the members of the Club. The membership strength today stands at 2,000 from all over the country. Club membership is much sought after, as evidenced by the fact that at any time, over 400 applicants are awaiting their turn to become members of this illustrious Institution.
The Club has affiliations with a large number of similar distinguished institutions all over the country, thus affording the members the facilities that they enjoy here when they go out too.
(The major source of information here is “The Doon Valley Down the Ages” the book by Late Mr. Prem Hari Har Lal and compiled for the Club by Mr. Sudhir K. Arora.)