When the late Babubhai Patel, the Rajpath Club founder, purchased a piece of land on SG Road in 1973 at Rs 6.25 per sq yd, he wouldn’t have thought that in fewer than 40 years, the land surrounding the club would be sold at around Rs 1 lakh per sq yd.
Patel’s effort to create such a huge recreational facility outside Ahmedabad actually laid foundation for the present day SG Road around 35 years back, as people started investing in land around the club. SG Road, in those days, was as narrow as a society road is these days.
Patel had recognised that the road, though not the main one then approaching capital Gandhinagar, would make sense to develop. “By the time Rajpath Club was commissioned in 1975, people had already started purchasing land. Prices started escalating and in five years it went up to Rs 50 per sq yd….around 8 times,” says his son Porus Patel.
Around 15 years later, in 1989, Trilok Parikh, who became one of the first members of the Rajpath Club and went on to become its president later, decided to develop another club on the same road. Around 2 km towards Sarkhej, he bought around 1 lakh sq yd land at deals ranging from Rs 80 to Rs 185 per sq yd. The Karnavati Club stands here today.
“When we opened, people were not ready to pay the membership fee of Rs 5000. However, some builders decided to launch bungalow schemes near the club. Many plotting schemes came up between Rajpath and Karnavati,” says Parikh. He was himself one of the main developers in the region.
As the area became more and more residential, many members of old clubs of Ahmedabad started taking membership of these two clubs. Call it club-led development, but the popularity of the club culture in Ahmedabad has certainly played a critical role in shaping of the contours of realty development in the city.
Dinesh Zaveri owns a jewellery showroom on Ashram Road. When he decided to move from old city in 1996, he bought a bungalow behind Rajpath so that his family could avail club facilities. Looking at the escalation in land prices in last fifteen years, he could not have made a better decision because no other investment of his has seen the same price surge. Staying ‘far’ from the workplace, which was a factor in those days, is just a relative term.
Current secretary of Karnavati, Girish Dani, also shifted around a year back to a house behind the club. “Around 35 to 40 per cent members live close to the club,” says his brother Paresh Dani, also president of Rajpath. The Who’s Who of Ahmedabad including industrialists Karsanbhai Patel, Gautam Adani, Pankaj Patel, Mehtas of Torrent, to name a few, have also constructed palatial houses near Rajpath and Karnavati.
Five years back, real-estate developer Jaxay Shah moved residence from Naranpura to behind Rajpath. “Squash and gym are my passion. I kept two things in mind while selecting location for my new house — proximity to office and club,” says Shah.
“Club-led development in Ahmedabad is not a new trend,” says Navroz Tarapore, the secretary of Shahibaug based Ahmedabad Gymkhana. Way back in 1853, when the gymkhana was developed by the British, it actually opened the gates for present day Shahibaug’s development.
The erstwhile European Gymkhana opened membership for Indians in 1946. “As a result, affluent businessmen and textile barons not only became members, some of them also purchased sprawling bungalows in the proximity,” says Tarapore. Same is the case with the historical Guj a r at Club, the venue of the first ever meeting between Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Patel. In fact, an avid bridge player, Vallabhbhai preferred to stay just a stone’s throw distance from the club. Clubs on Ashram Road and Ellisbridge areas including Rifle Club, Orient Club, Ellisbridge Gymkhana and even Sports Club of Gujarat were the major attraction for upper-class people in the city to move in next door.