London: The landmark India Club in London, founded in 1951 as a way of furthering Indo-British relations, following Independence, will shut down next month after losing a protracted battle against its closure.
Situated directly opposite the Indian High Commission and the BBC’s studios at Bush House, the club will shut its doors on September 17 after it was served a notice by the landlords to make way for putting up a luxury hotel, The Telegraph newspaper reported.
The restaurant, with independent India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru as its founding member, attracted a cosmopolitan clientele of employees from India House, journalists, lawyers from the nearby Royal Courts of Justice and lecturers and students from King’s College.
Founded by Krishna Menon, India’s first High Commissioner, the place has been a hotspot for the Asian community in London, and has served Indian taste buds with popular dishes like butter chicken and masala dosa.
According to the Telegraph report, the lease was held by Yadgar Marker and his daughter Phiroza for the past 26 years, who described the eviction of the club as “heartbreaking”.
In 2018, an application by the premises freeholder Marston Properties to turn the place into “modern tourist accommodation” was rejected by Westminster Council, following a “Save India Club” petition signed by 26,000 people.
However, it was only a temporary reprieve.
Sharing a photograph with his sister at the club, Congress MP Shashi Tharoor, whose father Chandran Tharoor was one of the founding members of the club, wrote on X: “I am sorry to hear that the India Club, London, is to close permanently in September. As the son of one of its founders, I lament the passing of an institution that served so many Indians (and not only Indians) for nearly three-quarters of a century.
“For many students, journalists, and travellers, it was a home away from home, offering simple and good quality Indian food at affordable prices as well as a convivial atmosphere to meet and maintain friendships.”
“It is very sad news indeed. India Club was a part of British Indian history hidden away on The Strand. Everyone’s a loser when such places close. London has changed so much demographically, sad when you see legacy fade with the advance of a new rationale,” the HinduCouncilUK, an advocacy group, said in a tweet.