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Golaghat gets a place of pride - Planter converts ancestral bungalow into modern club

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PULLOCK DUTTA   |   Published 29.04.13, 12:00 AM

Jorhat, April 28: The small, sleepy town of Golaghat now has a landmark that not only promises to be a neighbours’ envy but also an added attraction for Kaziranga tourists.

A tea planter family of the town has converted an ancestral bungalow, built in 1910, into a lavish clubhouse — Golaghat Gymkhana — that offers a complete “package”: food and board with a restaurant and a bar, a swimming pool, a gymnasium and even a billiards room..

Owner Deboshyam Baruah said, “As the bungalow has been lying idle, we decided to convert it into a clubhouse. We think it will soon turn into a watering hole for not only local people but also tourists visiting Kaziranga National Park, which is around 60km away.”

He said two travel agencies had already enquired about “the new happening place”.

Baruah said the club, which has four rooms and a conference hall, would be open for membership soon. Members will be able to avail 10 per cent discount while using the facilities. He said Golaghat, around 300km from Guwahati, had the potential to be a tourist destination as it boasted of Uncle Robin’s Children Museum in the residence of Robin Banerjee, a naturalist of international repute, and the Golaghat Baptist Church.

While the museum showcases dolls, artefacts, mementoes, films and other items from Banerjee’s personal collections, the church is one of the oldest and biggest of the denominations in Assam and celebrated its centenary in 1999.

Baruah, the owner of Doloajan tea estate, said his great grandfather, Raibahadur Ghanashyam Baruah, had constructed the bungalow after the family ventured into the tea business. “I am a fourth generation planter,” he said.

He said his father used to run his office from the building till some years back but the family decided to build a small house on the same premises and shift, as it was difficult to maintain such a large building. Subsequently, they contacted B2 Studio, an architectural firm in Guwahati, to renovate the bungalow.

Arindam Bora of B2 Studio told this correspondent that options of both reconstruction and renovation were available. “Finally, we decided to restore the building, as it had historical and architectural significance,” he said.

This was Bora’s first project in Assam, after he returned to Assam from the UK and started his architectural firm. “It was a pleasure to start in Assam with such a historic building,” he said, adding that the bungalow was a typical Assam-type timber-framed structure.

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