World's first-ever nudist colony discovered near Mumbai

World's first-ever nudist colony discovered near Mumbai

The Fellowship of the Naked Trust -- what a lovely name -- had its headquarters in Thane of all places, in the 1890s

"The satellite city of Thane may have been the unlikeliest of places for such a recreation, but the world’s first-ever nudist colony, The Fellowship of the Naked Trust (FNT), was set up there in 1891 by Charles Edward Gordon Crawford, a District and Sessions Judge in British India," states a charming, funny little story in the Mumbai Mirror this Sunday.

An example of a shaded bunaglow in Matheran. The leafy environs are perfect to roam about 'in puris naturalibus', which means to be in pure, natural form aka naked."Gay guru" Edward Carpenter, pioneering activist and poet from Victorian England as well as a close friend of Rabindranath Tagore, received letters with such an address from the nudist colony's founder, Charles Edward Gordon Crawford, four copies of which are with the Mumbai Mirror.

Like all the best clubs, this one was small. It had four members. And, despite what it looks like, you did not need to be named Edward to join. These were C.E.G. Crawford, an English widower, and Andrew and Kellogg Calderwood, the sons of a missionary.

"Andrew Calderwood and I were up at Matheran having two days' holiday to spend naked from breakfast to evening," wrote Crawford. "But that was only by shutting ourselves up tight in our room... Being indoors at our FNT meetings does not of course employ quite the same shutting up as it does in England. In June, Andrew Calderwood and I had a grand day. We went away to a bungalow in the Tulsi Lake without servants and spent from dinner time Saturday till 5pm Sunday in nature’s garb... Servants are the great difficulty, because they are everywhere. At Tulsi, where we were quite isolated, we were able to stroll about in the verandah and round the house. I am writing this in 'uniform' and we have retired to a secluded room for the purpose of spending a few hours so."

Within a year Crawford remarried a lady called Ethel and moved to Ratnagiri, and that was the end of the FNT. I can only imagine Ethel was really very hot.