Going by the school in front of it and the commercial buildings next to it, you would never guess that a house as old as Villa Pottipati sits on a quiet corner of 8th Cross. While the age of the villa varies according to different sources — staff in the hotel that manages it peg its age at 140 years; T.P. Issar’s 1988 book on Bangalore architecture, The City Beautiful, estimates that it was built around 1925; others reckon its age is somewhere in between — there’s no doubt that walking into Villa Pottipati is like stepping into a different era.
Here, the sound of the bustling traffic is left behind and you find yourself transported into a haven amidst tall and very old Gulmohar, Shivalinga and Jacaranda trees.
One of few survivors
Villa Pottipati, named after the native village of its owners, is a charming colonial bungalow in the heart of Malleswaram with a distinctive British Raj-style architecture, a fusion of the Gothic and the decorative South Indian styles of architecture. Bought from a British owner by the late Rama Reddy, the villa is, as Issar says in his book, “one of the only surviving grand bungalows in Malleswaram.”
A short stroll down the cobbled courtyard brings you to a library, through which you can access the main hall of the building. The room has a skylight and granite pillars, and the walls are dotted with photos of family members from a bygone era. The hall holds a great deal of history — family functions such as weddings and rituals have taken place here. These days, the room is sometimes rented out for film shootings.
When the latest generation of the Reddys moved to New York, the family leased out the property in 2003 to the Neemrana Group. Hotel experts Francis Wacziarg and Aman Nath restored Villa Pottipati to its former grace, and converted the house into an eight-bedroom ‘heritage’ hotel, complete with a pool and an open-air garden restaurant. Much of the furniture has been restored and is still being used, and the flooring is quite the same.
Time stands still in Villa Pottipati. To older neighbours, the house evokes nostalgia; for the younger generation, it is a glimpse into Bangalore as it once was.