Ask any old time resident of Bengaluru what’s changed and the answer will inevitably be – everything. This city that was once known for its sprawling gardens, open-spaces, empty-roads and amicable weather, is today a bustling metropolis. Life is fast, and the green is disappearing even faster. As the city widens, nature seems to get more and more distant and you are left wondering if the famous Lalbaugh and Cubbon Park will be the only token lush areas left. And on this melancholy strain, your eyes chance upon an elegant sandstone structure rising above Residency Road.
Welcome to the ITC Royal Gardenia
The Royal Gardenia is India’s first LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environment Design) Platinum rated hotel. According to Chief Executive, ITC Hotels Division, Nakul Anand, “The ITC Royal Gardenia exemplifies ITC’s vision and is perhaps the perfect example of finding common rhythm between man made and natural environment. The challenge was to see how luxury and responsibility could be in harmony together. Thus a series of sustainable measures and practices were embraced to ensure that elements of nature were effectively harnessed at every level inside the luxury hotel”.
And Gardenia epitomizes this spirit of harmony in every sense. First up is the Atrium lobby that is not air-conditioned but intelligently wind cooled. At the centre of the lobby is a serene lotus pool surrounded by vertical garden panels. The net impact is that you suddenly stop hurrying and take a moment to catch your breath while enjoying the stunning feast for the eyes!
Further in is the famous Lotus Pavilion. This elegantly designed structure with its grass-roof is reflective of the beautiful union of luxury seen in the architectural influences- characteristically reminiscent of the Mysore state of yore, and the infusion of nature through modern technology within this space. This grand entrance offers an excellent prelude to where you are going to stay. Each of the rooms is designed to offer a feel of space and helps you resonate with the outdoors. The Gardenia also boasts of the Peacock suite. Spread over 5040 sq ft, this room is inspired by India’s national bird and features sprawling terraces in addition to an infinity pool.
The 11-storey, Gwalior sandstone and red brick motif edifice was designed by renowned architect Rajinder Kumar. The interiors are the vision of UK-based designer Francesca Basu and are inspired by the various facets of nature like earth, wood, water, fire, flora and fauna.
For the gastronomically inclined, the hotel offers an array of restaurants with cuisine from around the world. First up is the Lotus Pavilion, where you sample handcrafted beers as you savor the cool, crisp Bangalore air. Next is the Cubbon Pavilion that draws inspiration from the days of the Raj and is open 24 hours a day. Also present are Edo, a Japanese fine dining restaurant; Kebabs and Kurries for those in the mood for piquant Indian cuisine, and the West View where you can sample some of Bangalore’s best grills.
The ITC Gradenia truly exemplifies a modern hotel that keeps its bond with nature strong. So, the next time you are in Bangalore, stop by and experience a whiff of the old garden city in modern times.
Banjaar Tola: The Taj like you never saw it before
But if finding green within your backyard is not your cup of tea and you are seeking something more adventurous, you can head off to Taj Safari’s Banjaar Tola. This ultra luxury tented Jungle Retreat is located near the Kanha national park.
Spread over 60 acres, this resort is located on the banks of the Banjaar river that is the watering hole for one of the largest tiger populations in India. But be warned if you thought this was just some jungle camp. You will be in for a pleasant surprise! The famous Taj service is found with facilities like fine dining, lounges, a swimming pool and even a spa. The twin occupancy tents are nestled among towering trees with each tent having a private deck suspended over the river that makes for a spectacular view.
Designed by the famous Delhi based architecture firm Sanjay Prakash & Associates, these tents are custom tuned for keeping you comfortable but with an eye on energy efficiency. Mist-based evaporative cooling helps beat the sweltering Madhya Pradesh heat during the day, and gas-based under-floor heating keeps you warm during the chilly nights. An elevated and insulated floor further insulates you from the rapidly varying climate.
The tents are built from natural materials like cotton canvas and timber, with Salwood frame windows. The double layered canvas tensile roof has an air gap between the layers. Nestled between these layers is the evaporative spray mechanism that helps keep the room comfortable.
The inviting indoors notwithstanding, one is spellbound by the outdoors. The Taj offers guided Safaris in 4×4 vehicles where you can witness the splendid local fauna including tigers, leopards, sloth bears, wolves, barasinghas and chital among others. All this excitement is bound to get you hungry and the resort offers a delectable range of Indian and Western food to satiate your appetite.
So the next time you want to get up close and personal with India’s national animal, but don’t want to leave behind creature comforts, head straight to this Taj Resort!
ITC Royal Gardenia,
No 1 Residency Road , Bengaluru.
Banjaar Tola Kanha National Park, Banjaar Tola, Manjitola, Mukki, Tehsil Baihar, Balaghat, Madhya Pradesh
Author: Akshad Viswanathan
Akshad works with Yahoo! Inc and completed his studies from Pune university. He loves quizzing, specifically Biz-quizzes. His other full time activity is reading, lots of it.
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