There was a time when far away from the European centre of Calcutta, this particular area was densely forested with Sundari, Byne, Garjan and other mangroves. During those early days the area was known as “Russapugla”, after the name of a Sufi saint (Pir), who used to meditate here under a particular tree. Later it was renamed “Tollygunge” after the name of Col. William Tolly, who dredged a canal connecting Rver Hoogly with Maatla and Bidyadhari rivers.
As far as we know, during 1781 Richard John, an employee of The East India Company, started an indigo plantation in this area. In course of time Prince Ghulam Mohammed, son of the famous Nawab Tipu Sultan of Mysore, purchased the property and made it a royal park and remodeled the house of Johnsons as his garden house.
After more than a century since then, the Tollygunge Club Limited acquired the entire property from the Mysore family in 1895 and the old Johnson home became the present Clubhouse. Situated at 120 Deshpran Sasmal Road the Tollygunge Club, popularly known as “Tolly”, was established by a Scottish banker Sir William Cruikshank in the year 1895, basically with the intention to facilitate equestrian sports and also to promote all types of sports. It is said that Mr. Cruikshank accidentally found the dilapidated property when he was out riding early one morning and was trying desperately to locate his missing dog.
Today the Club offers probably the largest variety of activities amongst Calcutta clubs. Spreading over an area of 100 acres and enriched with an eighteen hole golf course, the club has produced a number of professional golfers in India. Apart from golf, it also offers facilities for riding, polo, tent-pegging, clay-shooting, tennis, squash, swimming and indoor games like Billiards and Bridge Room. It is also the ceremonial venue of the traditional Monsoon, Christmas and the usual New Year’s Eve balls. The main attraction on New Year’s Eve is the night tent-pegging championship, a type of cavalry sport of ancient origin, where riders pick up flaming tent-pegs with a pig stick resembling a lance or spear.