Assam - Goriajan


Goriajan Club

November 19 2014

Thanks to
Pratyush Parasar Sarma we have the following;

Lou McArthur, Granddaughter of JHC Ross has shared a treasure with us. 

                                                                         Pratyush Parasar Sarma

Lou McArthur  on Goriajan Club:


“I have been corresponding with Alan King through the Koi Hai website and also saw your name on there regarding the history of the Goriajan Club.

My great grandfather was Robert Brown Pringle who was an owner of Badulipar TE and his daughter married my grandfather JHC Ross who was a manager for a while until 1932 of Badulipar TE.  He then went back to Australia with his wife and two daughters Margaret and Isobel.

Next week we are bringing those two daughters, now aged 86 and 88 back to Assam and will be visiting Badulipar, Koomtai etc.!!!  In fact there will be 12 of us in the party, 10 of whom are descendants of RB Pringl

Our family has quite a few silver cups from the polo matches back then.   JHC Ross was a very keen player and played with Curtis Skene and others (It was Curtis Skene that encouraged him to go out to India with polo ponies).  We also have photos of them receiving their trophies.  I also have a very large silver try that was given to JHC Ross by the members of the Goriajan Club when he left India in 1932.” 


Some photographs of the club




June 17 2014

Here we have Alan King's input to the history that  

Pratyush Parasar Sarma is working hard to collect

I am sorry that it's been over six months since your email in reply to my note on Goriajan Club. I still do not know when the club was founded but it was certainly before 1914 and probably after 1897.
I have been down some odd paths in my search for more information on the club. I give below some of those details.
After scratching my head I remembered an old photograph in the club office. (All the photos were taken down from the bar, when  the bar was redecorated  in 1963, just as I joined. The only one that survived was of Charles Twisden Forbes who was a Member of the Legistive Assembly of Assam in 1912 (?). He died at Badulipar in December 1913 and is buried in Golaghat cemetery. His large framed portrait hung in the bar of Goriajan Club for many years and was still on the wall in the bar in 1980!!  However, the photo I was remembering, which was unfortunately destroyed by termites, was of a polo team standing around a very large trophy. Somehow, my old memory thought that it was the Sibsagar District Polo Cup. 
On "googling'' that, a treasure chest was opened. The Sibsagar District Polo Challenge Cup was inaugurated in 1897, but Goriajan was not among the original founding clubs.(Attached a copy of an an article from "The Sketch of October 1897.)  
Subsequently, I found out that the cup had been presented to the Rutland Polo Club here in the UK, after polo ceased to be played in Assam in the 1960s!  Apparently the silver trophy was recently stolen, but the base, with shields each inscribed with the names of all the winners, was not stolen. After a little more digging the current holder kindly informed me that Goriajan won it in 1914, 1915,1916,1918,1923 and 1929 ! She also sent me the names of the Goriajan winning teams (Attached list). I recall being regaled by my seniors on Sunday afternoons, after a round of golf, of tales of Australians at Badulipar importing polo ponies and selling some of them to Indian Maharajas. The name Skene seemed to ring bells also. Well, C.G. Skene was in five of those winning teams, it turns out that he was Australian and did import ponies, selling some to Indian royal families including Raja Rao Hunant Singh Jodhpur.
It now comes to light that Curtis Skene's son, Robert, was born in Assam in 1914, and became one of the all time great international polo players. He played for Australia, then Britain and then the USA.
Curtis Skene was the superintendent/manager of Badulipar Tea Co. prior to J H C Ross who I believe was also Australian and left Assam in 1933. His name is on the trophy and also on the Kakadanga Mug that was on an internet auction site. I am now in contact with JHC Ross's grand-daughter who is very interested in the Badulipar Company history.
Raja Rao Hunant Singh Jodhpur's son, Daljit "Tony" Singh was a tea planter with the Jorhaute Tea Co. at Rungagora Tea Estate and was a member of Goriajan Club in the 1970s!!.
I hope the above is of interest to you and will augment your "History of Goriajan Club" file.
Regarding the mural on the Goriajan wall, I am not sure if I was remembering correctly. There was definitely a mural in the Golaghat Club (a moonlight scene from a balcony overlooking a bay.) which was the work of Joe Matthews when he was with the Rungajaun Tea Company outside Golaghat. He was in the area about the time I left Assam in 1980, and may have painted the Goriajan one after that date. If not, it has been uncovered after being painted over in 1963.
Alan (King)

Alan's Photos to follow

April 28 2014

Pratyush Parasar Sarma tells us that : 

I have seen a silver 1918 Tennis Trophy of Goriajan Club,

Golaghat in
According to the seller of the item it is a

 "Small Sterling Silver 1918 Tennis Trophy

which reads:

                           Goriajan Club * 1918 * Tennis

Measures 2-1/2" high, 1" diameter.  Smallest trophy I've ever seen

other than a medal."
               Item Location: San Diego, California, United States.

If anyone knows about these type of trophies related to

Goriajan Club I request

everyone to share their thoughts.
I am still searching for the history of the club.
Hereby I want to thank the editor, Mr. Ajit Saikia,

Mr. Alan King and Mr. Rick Lahkar

who have supported me in this topic.  


Pratyush Parasar Sarma
Area Supervisor, 
Village Health Outreach Program,
HMRI-104- Sanjeevani
Shantipur, Golaghat
PIN: 785621.
October 25 2012
Pratyush Parasar Sarma of Dergaon Golaghat tells us

that he would like

to know more of the history of the Goriajan Club

near Golaghat


 November 16 2012 

We have been seeking help in finding out about the history of Goriajan Club and

we owe our good thanks to Ajit Saikia for coming up with the interesting and

amusing note on the subject

Thank You Ajit Saikia


Ajit Saikia tells us of his memories of Goriajan and other clubs in Assam


                                       Goriajan Club by Ajit Saikia

Since I was a member of this club only for a very short period during the early

sixties, I feel that I am hardly the person to talk much about this once joyful

watering hole. That honour should go to one Allen King who was its life and soul
for many years . As for myself I can only talk about my experiences!

I do not possess much knowledge about the history of Goriajan Club but I

presume it got started around the same time as Golaghat Club, Kakodoonga

Club ,and Dhunsiri Club and out of the three only one is limping away for


My four years in Deepling situated in far off Sonari District, had left me rather

battered and it was a relief to get away from this estate located at the back of

beyond, and I had welcomed my transfer to Rungagora in the Golaghat District,


However, there was just one problem- I had no friends in that area and a " non-

club going" manager did not help matters. While in Deepling, it was somewhat

of a "Hookum Hai" go to the club on Wednesdays for tennis, and on Saturday

nights for the film. I might perhaps mention here that the road to Sonari Club

was not a tarmac one and one had to cross the river Desang with a loaded car,

aboard Captain Ahab's little dingy which was tied to an overhead wire rope

which slid along another rope anchored on two posts stretching from one side of
the river to the other. We sort of floated across hanging on and depending

entirely on the strength of these wire ropes! Those of you who had the

opportunity to experience the thrill of this journey will certainly realize what I am

talking about. (Dacre Mogg will agree, I am sure). But despite the hazards, we

never missed a club night , and although at times during the rains when the

roads were muddy and slushy, and Mr. Warburton, our manager, insisted on

driving us to the club in his old Singer car, we really had to keep our fingers

crossed! You see, old Warby's car was fitted with a steering wheel which had a

play of about 360 degrees and as the jalopy swerved from one side of the road

to the other, he, Mr. Warburton , would take both his hands off the steering

wheel and ignoring our plight, only smile under his moustache!

Anyway, it must have been around the third or the fourth day of my arrival in

Rongagora when I was lazily enjoying a cuppa towards evening, when a

somewhat noisy and battered red Standard Herald roars into my compound

carrying two individuals whom I had not met earlier.

They barged into my sitting room without invitation , made themselves

comfortable and barked at the bearer to fetch some glasses and promptly

opened a bottle of Hayward's gin!

They poured liberal measures into the glasses, offered me one and the plumpier
one said "You drink, don't you?

"Yep, said I "

"OK then Cheers"

It was only then that they considered it appropriate  to introduce themselves to


Plumpy said "I am Fergus Macmillan and this is my mate Allen King. We are

from your next door garden Badlipar T.E. and we have come to claim you for

membership into Goriajan Club"

I hadn't the faintest idea where Goriajan Club was located and said so . King

said it did not matter and all I had to do was to come to Fergus' bungalow which

was on Bonn T'E. situated only half a mile away from Rungagora.

Thereafter, we became friends and till today I can only think of these two

individuals with great fondness and respect.

Saturday night in Goriajan Club was a WOW!

I was introduced to senior members  Mr. Crabb, Geoffrey Duncan and Douglas

Tochar and the portly Jock Hay. Mr Crabb was the Superintendent of Badulipar

Tea Company and presided over most of the Octavious Steel Gardens located

in the Golaghat District.

I also met other members like Majidullah, Khoka Thakur, Prafulla Phukon, Dip

Phukon, personnel officer Ramesh Jaitley and medical officer Doc Lahiri.  A few

years later I came across Chand Khanna, who was a very good tennis player.

When Doc Lahiri retired, the practice was taken over by Doc Verma who also

was an excellent tennis player and in partnership with Chand , won many laurels
in the tennis courts. As a matter of fact there were very few who could get the

better of Dip Phukon/ Dennis Sharp combination or Chand Khanna/ Doc Verma

tie up in the tennis courts of Zone II ABITA!

 However, It was apparent that Goriajan Club was the bastion of Octavious

Steel Company and it was their patronage which kept the club going.

This point of patronage is worth noting because  every club throughout Assam

had one main supporter. For example, Doomdooma Club had The Doomdooma

Tea Company as its main patron, the Jorhat Club was heavily supported by The
Jorehaut Tea Company , Thakurbari and Bisnauth had Williamson Magor ,

Nazira belonged to The old Assam Company and Singloo sponsored Sonari  Club.

Patronage of clubs located in the tea districts of Assam suffered a lot

during the mid sixties when many of the tea companies were sold off

and none suffered as much as the clubs located  in the Golaghat area.

The first casuality was Kakodoonga Club, then it was the turn of

Golaghat Club which was situated bang in the heart of Golaghat town.

The shutting down of Golaghat Club gave rise to a period on animosity

between members of Dhunsiri Club and Goriajan Club and for years

there ensued periodic debates as to who should have received the bulk
of its members.  That point of course was never settled but it was

Goriajan who acquired most of the members by virtue of the fact that

most of the gardens belonged to The Octavious Steel Group. Thus it

was that executives from Wokha T.E., Doyang T.E, Rungajaun T.E.,

and Marangi T.E. , became members of Goriajan Club. 

And with the introduction of people like Bob Wood (Wokha), Charles Ingram

(Marangi), Dennis Sharp and Dip Phukon (Rangajaun), and Doc Beletty

(Golaghat Medical Practice), Goriajan Club was really swinging!

But things did not remain in this rosy condition for long as Companies

started selling off their properties and slowly but steadily Goriajan Club

started to lose patronage and over a period of time most of the earlier

members were gone.

And when Badulipar Tea Company also changed hands, the Club

became a one company club and although some of its executives

continued to go to the club, there was an absence of the old gaiety

much associated with tea clubs.

And then suddenly The Assam Agitation took over and things got very difficult

for tea planters all over and the Goriajan club building which was sparingly used
was requisitioned by the government for use by paramilitary forces. The building
came into disrepair and suddenly one day a fire broke out in the office room and
destroyed all documents comprising of AGM Minutes and other details

pertaining to club activities .

For the Sunday golf , it was my duty to bring with me one large Borali or Sole

fish which I would deposit with the club cook . By the time we returned to the

club house and were bending elbows in the bar, a huge plate of fish and chips

were placed before us! This was possible, because fish was dirt cheap around

Rangogora those days!

Somebody has opined that it was a shame that the planters employed by tea

estates located around the club did not try to maintain it. I agree, but what

planters? There are hardly any ABITA gardens left in that area and most of

those affiliated to other associations do not have employees belonging to the

club going community. It is precisely because of this that out of the four clubs in

the Golaghat district, only one is functioning and that too in a most half hearted

manner! On a recent visit to this club sometime in the month of July this year, I

could not believe that this was my old club. It presented a most depressing sight
and possibly it is only a matter of time when this club might meet the same fate

as Gariajan, Golaghat and Kakodonga.

Since Goriajan is located on Koomtai Land (Badlipar Tea company), the owners
tried to keep it going for a while but it was too much for one single company to

maintain a club. They have now planted out the golf course and rightly so, since

for long, this stretch of undulating land interspersed with hoolas remained

unutilized and it would be  only a matter of time when encroachment would start.

I have only fond memories of Goriajan club. For me it was a place of gaiety,

friendship and camaraderie. I have played on its golf course and have won the

prestigious Craig Cup on two occasions, I have played in the Hay -Mulvey Cup

golf matches, held in alternate years at both Dhunsiri and Goriajan clubs. ( I

wonder where are these cups now!). Yes, we had everything which went

towards making a successful club, we had a big club house, we had a massive

dance hall which housed a piano, we had a swimming pool , we had a golf

course and lovely tennis courts and  above all, we had people who would attend
a managers meeting on a Friday and return home two days later after spending

their entire time at the bar!

As an addenda to our discussions Ajit makes a very good point

I forgot to mention that there was a time when the members of Dhunsiri and

Goriajan Clubs discussed about combining both the clubs which would have

been the proper thing to do. But personal egos came in the way and prevented

this from happening. The result is for everyone to see!


Original comments by Pratyush Parasar Sarma asking for the history of Goriajan Club

Pratyush does not  know when it was founded and who was the founder of such a beautiful club. It was known for its Polo Ground.with Tennis Court,  Golf Course,  and swimming pool plus the Bar and Library. But now it is only a skeleton of the old Club.



The golf course has had tea planted on it and from the photographs one can see that the Club building has declined over the years


Photo 1

Photo 2

Photo 3

The golf course has had tea planted on it, and from the photographs one can see that the Club building has declined over the years

If anyone has any information or memories of the Club can they please contact either Pratyush or the Editor with their information which will be shared  through the web site

Please contact either the editor at [email protected]

or Prakyush at [email protected]