Rifa-e-Aam Club

The Rifa-e-Aam Club (Urdu: رفاہِ عام کلب, Hindi: रिफ़ा-ए-आम क्लब) is a historic building in Lucknow, India. It is best known as the place where the Progressive Writers Movement was created.[1][2]

Old building façade with plasters worn out and inner bricks seen with creepers climbing around.
The unkempt building façade as in 2013


The building was constructed around 1860 by the Nawab of Awadh, who intended it to be a centre of the royalty's literary life in the region.[1][3] According to a local historian, the name derived from "rifa" or "happiness" and "aam" or "common", and suggested that the club offered happiness to the common man.[4][5] The club was open to everybody, in contrast to European clubs which did not allow Indians to apply.[5] In subsequent years it became what The Economist described as "an important nationalist hangout".[6] It was one of the centres of Indian nationalism and other intellectual activity, frequented by individuals such as Munshi Premchand and Mohammad Amir Ahmad Khan.[2] In the 1900s it hosted meetings of the All-India Muslim League.[1] The club hosted a meeting of the Indian National Congress and the Muslim League which led to the Lucknow Pact of 1916, which was also signed on the premises.[3][2] Mahatma Gandhi visited the building to give a speech on Hindu-Muslim unity on 15 October 1920[2][7][8] and on 26 April 1922 Jawaharlal Nehru and Vallabhbhai Patel made speeches at the club encouraging local people to intensify the Swadeshi movement.[9] The Progressive Writers Movement was created in 10 April 1936.[1]

The building has not been well maintained in the decades since; one wing has become a hospital, another has been abandoned, and the courtyard is a rubbish dump.[6][1][3] The poor state of the building has led to local activism trying to get it recognized and protected as a heritage landmark by the government.[2][1][6][5]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Rifa-e-aam – Progressive Writing, Regressive Caretaking". The Lucknow Observer. 5 August 2015. Retrieved 28 November 2016.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Rifa-e-Aam: From literary riches to rag-pickers' hub". The Times of India. Retrieved 23 November 2016.
  3. ^ a b c Rizvi, Uzair Hasan. "A century on, the site of the historic Lucknow Pact is in ruins". Scroll.in. Retrieved 23 November 2016.
  4. ^ "Children draw attention to crumbling heritage building". The Hindustan Times. 24 April 2015. Retrieved 24 November 2016.
  5. ^ a b c "Kids move city to save Rifa-e-Aam club". The Times of India. Retrieved 23 November 2016.
  6. ^ a b c "Brick by brick". The Economist. 22 October 2016. ISSN 0013-0613. Retrieved 23 November 2016.
  7. ^ "Mahatma's Speeches Stressed On Harmony And Cleanliness «  Tornos India". www.tornosindia.com. Retrieved 24 November 2016.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  8. ^ Husain, Yusra (2 October 2016). "Battered with age, for this house Gandhi's dream is still alive". The Times of India. Retrieved 24 November 2016.
  9. ^ Sharda, Shailvee (13 November 2014). "Lucknow in the life of Nehru". The Times of India. Retrieved 24 November 2016.