The 140-year-old colonial bungalow welcomes you with the heady fragrance of flowers from its magnificent Cannonball tree. Located in Malleswaram, the heart of traditional Bangalore, Villa Pottipati is engulfed in the serenity of a lush garden, offering respite from the bustle of flower sellers and vegetable vendors outside.
The sprawling Villa Pottipati is a heritage property dating back to the 19th century. Owned by the Reddy family that moved to Bangalore, the house (which has seen days as a British bungalow and later an office of the erstwhile Karnataka Electricity Board) is named after the family's hometown in Andhra Pradesh, a village called Pottipati. Their son married into the royal family of Gadwal (in Mahbubnagar district of Andhra Pradesh, 188 km from Hyderabad), and the children they had together eventually moved away to live in New York. Although Mrs Reddy now lives with them, she still returns each year to spend a few months in the old family home.
Aman Nath and Francis Wacziarg, the visionaries behind the Neemrana group of ‘non-hotels’, have shared a long romance with heritage buildings. They maintain that most often, it is the properties that choose them, instead of the other way around. As they resurrect and restore forts, palaces and bungalows across India, they seek to create “an experience that combines history and architectural grandeur with honest hospitality.”
Mr Nath’s observation that the past is inextricably connected with the present becomes apparent in the Pottipati experience. The walls are lined with romantic black-and-white photographs alongside haunting portraits of beautiful women, and they surreptitiously transport you back in time. The original maroon-tinged flooring echoes footsteps from a time that the house was filled with all the drama of a large family.
Now, the granite-pillared hall, roofed with dark wooden beams and a sunny skylight, serves as a lounge and reception to the guesthouse. Serviced with modern conveniences like wi-fi, television and an outdoor pool, the villa runs with all the efficiency of the 21st century, cloaked in the charm of another era.
Each of the eight rooms is named after traditional South Indian saris, and vary from basic bed-and-bath to large suites complete with private living rooms and pillared balconies to enjoy the sunset. Arched wooden doorways, traditional towel racks, and antique beds that creak gently as you climb in create an ambience of old-world luxury.
One of the singular pleasures of staying at the villa is enjoying your meals in the open-air garden restaurant, Carte Blanche. Alfresco dining under the shade of mango, avocado, chickoo and jackfruit trees mean that freshly-picked fruit is always on the menu and you can choose from seasonal desserts and smoothies prepared with home-grown ingredients. Neemrana’s organically prepared in-house jams are another delicious indulgence that comes with dining at the hotel.
Lunch and dinner is open to non-residents, and the prix-fixe menu offers both Indian and continental. I tried the rice and fish curry on the recommendation of the chef. Served steaming hot, the fish was soft and delicate. I buried the white grains of rice under thick orange gravy and enjoyed the delicious balance of spice. The other residents, a large Belgian family on holiday, seemed very pleased with their order of grilled chicken in pepper sauce, served on a bed of assorted veggies with rice. Generous portions of lemon sorbet followed, perfectly chilled and lightly tangy – just the thing to take the edge off a balmy summer afternoon.
Although invitingly cool rooms beckoned for a siesta, I opted instead for a walk through the gardens. The warm staff guided me through wide verandahs and introduced me proudly to the jacaranda, hibiscus and gulmohar. The garden allows you glimpses into the real age of the property; thick, gnarled fingers of backyard creepers and twisted roots of the Nagalinga tree hint at having seen stories richer and older than the hotel has documented, completing the sense of timeless romance.
So, should you be visiting Bangalore soon, or simply need a breather from the madness of city life, step into Villa Pottipati, where time itself stands still. The staff will make you feel at home, a lazy blue pool can wash away all kinds of stress, and heritage takes on a living, breathing avatar.
Note: The villa’s rich setting has seen it become a popular choice for traditional Indian weddings. See neemranahotels.com/weddings for more details
Address: 142, 8th Cross, 4th Main Road, Malleswaram, Bengaluru 560 003.
Approximately 38 km from Bengaluru International Airport and 7 km from Bangalore City Railway station.
Tariff: Villa Pottipatti has 5 rooms and 3 suites ranging from INR 3,000 to INR 5,500 a night, inclusive of breakfast. Lunch and dinner are chargeable at INR 500 a meal.
To book: Call +91-11-4666 1666 or email email@example.com or book online at www.neemranahotels.com
Amenities: Wi-fi, television, air conditioning, conference room, pool, safe deposit box, power backup, car/taxi rental service, travel desk, dry cleaning and laundry.
Photos: Azhar Mohamed Ali
TAKE A WALK INSIDE VILLA POTTIPATI