Luz House, home of Buchi Babu, father of South Indian cricket, will soon open its doors to people for a different experience. ZUBEDA HAMID reports
The house feels like it’s been there forever. Originally built sometime in the 1850s by Modhavarappu Dera Venkataswami Naidu, the dubash of Parry & Co., its stands at the end of a lane off Luz Church Road. The white two-storey bungalow has seen seven generations of a family, cricket and tennis played on its vast grounds, horses stabled at its rear, dogs bred and children frolic. Now owned by Buchi M. Prakash Rao, great-grandson of Buchi Babu, father of South Indian cricket, the property, known as Luz House, is set for a transformation.
“My great-grandfather grew up next door, in a house that was originally part of the same property,” says Rao. Back then, it spanned around 50 acres. “Even when I was growing up, this property extended all the way to the main road. We would run about playing cricket,” he says. From home to a family that excelled in sports — both cricket and polo are games the family helped cultivate in the South — the now one-acre property will, in due course, become a spiritual retreat, with a yoga studio, a café, an amphitheatre, a library, rooms for those who wish to stay and space for cultural events.
It is a transformation that Rao thinks befits the house. The idea, he says, is to retain the character of the house. So the pretty green and white tiles, the arched doors, wood ceiling and the graceful pillars will remain. Light fixtures similar to what the house had are being installed too. Landscaping will transform the front, while a portion of the rear will have a car park and an amphitheatre. One part of the house though, will remain residential.
As one enters the premises where the legendary cricketer lived, the sense one gets, is of a large, cool space, tucked-away rooms that offer privacy and tranquillity. “We want it to be a space where, for instance book readings and musical events can be hosted — a place where people can stay for a while. Film festivals are being planned too,” says Urmila Devi, Rao’s wife, who as a new bride, lived in the house for 15 days before the couple moved to the U.S.
“The only way to maintain the house, is to make use of it,” Rao says. A large balcony bordered by potted plants overlooks the front of the property and sunshine streams in through here. On the terrace and the verandah, Urmila says, they hope to organise yoga sessions by 136.1 yoga studio. Says Yashwant Saran, managing director of 136.1, “At Luz House, there will be a departure from the standard studio format. The theme here will be ‘living yoga’. The aim is to offer a holistic yoga experience and to reach out to everybody.”