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A rare mix

Ask Saibal Sen, one of Kolkata's top doctors and club president, to list Tolly's USP and he says: "Just check out any other leading club in the sub-continent and you'll know that Tolly can hold its own". The boast isn't an idle one. It has an 18-hole golf course spread over a hundred acres, heated swimming pools, equestrian facilities, squash, lawn tennis, badminton, and a host of indoor sports ranging from bridge to billiards, and not to forget a fully-equipped gym. And that's not all - two fine dining restaurants, one open-air cafê that's the heart and soul of the club, five bars and pathways meandering through acres upon lush acres of beautifully manicured lawns and groves of ancient trees that host an enviable variety of avian life.

No wonder then that getting membership into this 118-year-old club - once the estate of the deposed Tipu Sultan exiled to Calcutta - is no easy task. Forget the 12-year waiting list for new members, even making it to that list is considered an achievement in itself. "We screen applicants very carefully, " says Sen. An avid interest in sports - preferably golf - is considered a must. "Tolly was established in 1895 as an equestrian sports facility but the charter says its aim is to promote all manner of sports. So members need to have an interest in sports, " says Tolly chief executive Anil Mukherji. And that's what the members, and their offspring, do - at any time of the day or early evening, the fairway is dotted with keen golfers and the tennis and squash courts buzz with activity.

To its members, Tolly is a second home. "I sort of grew up in Tolly. I learnt swimming, horse-riding, tennis, squash and golf here and the staff here knows me so well that they still call me 'baby', " says Somini Sen Dua, who runs a premier PR firm in Kolkata and now brings her daughter to the club.

Tolly boasts of 66 plush guest rooms. "A few times a year, I bring my family over for a weekend stay here. Everyone loves it because there's so much to do, " says Dutta. Tolly was listed by the BBC as one of the leading 20 country clubs in the world, a listing its members never tire of pointing out to guests. Another strength of Tolly is its healthy mix of members from all professional backgrounds and ethnicity. In fact, it is said that Tolly is the last remnant of the once-cosmpolitan Calcutta. And one of the last flourishing remnants of the Raj as well.


Rs 3 lakh


12 years for those lucky to be put on the list


Actors Aparna Sen & Rituparna Sengupta, industrialist Sanjeev Goenka

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