The Dalhousie Institute was established in 1859 "to promote the literary and scientific improvement of members by means of lectures, library, reading room and other sources as may from time to time be devised; to foster a spirit of goodwill and sociability among the members; to provide amusements; to take part in and promote sports and games, and to embark upon any activities calculated to benefit the Institute or to advance the welfare of the members".
The Institute was not a social club in its early years - no drinks were served and no ladies were admitted as members till 1887.
The foundation stone of the DI - which was then located on the southern side of the Dalhousie Square tank - was laid on March 4, 1865 by the then Lieutenant Governor of Bengal, the Hon'ble Cecil Beadon. The original marble plaque commemorating the event has now been relocated in the entrance hall of the current premises at 42 Jhowtalla Road.
During World War II, the Institute was requisitioned for the use of US troops and, in 1948, it was shifted from Dalhousie Square; in its place today stands Telephone Bhavan. In 1956, the DI moved to its present location, which was once the garden house of the family of Gen J N Chowdhury.
We have come a long way, and in time, the 'other sources' have been actively devised to foster the spirit of goodwill, though ladies were only given the vote in 2004. Today, in addition to the library and reading room, the DI offers its members such sports facilities as a gym, swimming, tennis, billiards, badminton, table tennis, darts and bridge. Its football and cricket teams are among the leaders on the club scene. And with its regular social and cultural activities and facilities for young and old, the DI has earned its reputation of being "the family club" of Kolkata.
In the last few months, a new Food Court has been introduced, an amenity that allows members to sample fare other than that from its own kitchens. A new Children's Park, with child-friendly equipment has also been set up and is already a hit with the youngsters.The project for the renewal of the hall is well into the construction stage.