Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Bangalore's Best Kept Secrets

Bangalore, India


One of Bangalore’s best kept secrets is hidden in an old home in Victoria Layout. It’s just that Sonia Gandhi, Sheila Dixit, Shabana Azmi, Nandita Das and Nasseeruddin Shah’s family know about it. Chimmy Nanjappa, 83, and Pavithra Muddaya, 52, have been selling exquisite South Indian silk and cotton sarees out of their home for almost 37 years, which are sourced from across Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.
Pavithra, who trained as a lawyer, didn’t practice a single day in court because she went into business with her mother, Chimmy, who she saw sell sarees out of boxes and trunks, while growing up. Chimmy used to be manager of Cauvery Arts and Crafts on MG Road through which she was sent to world art fairs, twice to New York and once to Montreal. Even on these trips, through snow, Chimmy never traded her saree for warmer trousers, she says with a hint of pride in her voice. Vimor, which means pure was the name of an Indonesian girl that Chimmy met on one of her trips abroad.
Pavithra and her mother are desperately trying to revive what they perceive as a dying tradition. “Weavers are moving to power looms or BPO jobs,” says Pavithra. “The tradition of handmade textile art needs to be preserved.” Like pooja sarees, for example. For this, she has established a network of weavers who approach her though word of mouth. “They come to me because I am interested in creating a sustainable livelihood for them. We should win and they should win.”
She’s also greatly inspired by the old. “People come to me with their mother or grandmother’s saree. I use these designs to create something new.” Pavithra is also documenting designs so that this information is not lost. Cotton sarees can start at Rs. 500 and silk sarees can go upto Rs. 40000.

Where: 49, 3rd Cross, Victoria Layout.
Tel: 9480317054.
Cost: Cotton saris start from Rs.500 and silk sarees go upto Rs.40,000.
We love: Bridal silk sari in red and gold.


The next time a play is ready to be staged, the crew should check here before they get their own costumes.
You have to pass narrow streets packed with small shops, navigate past wandering cows and dogs to get here. But when you emerge in a quieter, prettier part of town, Prabhat Kalavidaru is in a lane with an unassuming sign board.

Prabhat Kalavidaru is orginally a renowned theatre group that was started in 1930 by four brothers. One of their sons, Rajendra, 45, an accomplished Kathak dancer, famous for performances with his wife, Nirupama, 40, handles the costumes division.
In a room on the first floor, no bigger than an average-sized living room, it looks as though a costume factory exploded. For a space that isn’t well-ventilated, it does not smell of sweat in here, as would be expected of a place that rents costumes. There is an attempt to contain all the fabric and more on clothes racks. But the attempt fails as silken shirts in bright colours, sequined ethnic Indian wear and dance wear spills onto the floor in large colourful piles.
There are more than 10,000 costumes, each made by in house tailors. Dress up like a Hindu god, complete with mythological regalia. Flamenco style turquoise shirts peek out from a corner. Lawyer uniforms and policeman outfits are also available. Complete a look with turbans and other accessories. An old man will do stage make up on request. Professional sound and light equipment is for hire too.
Kids can be their favourite cartoon character or a bird, tree. Maybe even a vegetable.
Daily rental rates are nominal starting at Rs. 75 to Rs. 100 on average and going up to Rs. 800 for a more elaborate outfit.

Where: 66, V V Puram.
Tel: 26613407;
We love: The possibility of renting a policeman's uniform and Flamenco costume at the same place.


Did you feel the slightest pangs of jealousy while watching Paul Giamatti drive through verdant Santa Barbara County Wine Country in the 2004 film, Sideways? Bordeaux is no closer to Bangalore but Grover Vineyards is. Recreate the magic of the Mediterranean when you take a tour of the property nestled amid the local weekend hotspot, Nandi Hills, and sample some of the delectable concoctions that are manufactured here. Grover Wines are distributed locally as well as overseas to countries like the UK, Japan and France.

A family business, the wine tours are the brainchild of third generation entrepreneur Karishma Grover, who graduated from University of California, Davis where she pursued a degree in viticulture and later did an internship at Napa Valley. She wanted to initiate the concept of high-quality wine tours that she had seen at these world-famous locations.

Visitors are given a guided tour of part of the 50-acre farm. The vineyard manager starts by explaining the cultivation process, the different kinds of grapes and a brief history of the vineyard. Next stop, the winery. The complete process after harvesting, from crushing and pressing to storage and fermentation is explained. Visitors are also shown the bottling and labeling units.

The final stop is the barrel room where massive oak barrels are used in the aging of a particular wine.  These barrels have a capacity of 225 litres. Guests sample different varieties of wine here and are guided through which potion complements which food the best.

Just remember to wear comfortable closed shoes and dab on sunscreen. A large sun hat and a water bottle are also recommended.

Cost: Rs. 850 per head on weekdays, Rs. 1000 per head on weekends, including lunch, glass of wine and dessert. Sample five kinds of wine. Starts at 11 am and lasts for about three or four hours.
Where: Grover Winery, Devanahalli Road, Doddaballapur


At this Bali-themed spa in the center of the city, feel at peace with yourself with a yoga session. “Om Swasti Hastu” is a Balinese greeting that means “to get in touch with your inner self.” This sums up the spa’s philosophy that also offers yoga classes in an open courtyard where birds chirp from the surrounding trees and the sound of water from a nearby waterfall drowning out all sound of traffic on the road outside.

Follow the calming instructions of an instructor as she guides you through asanas and pranayamas that are meant to bring down the body’s temperature. Like sheethali shitakali sadanta,  chandraloma chandrabedha or the shashankasana. These postures help calm and cool the mind. People of all ages and backgrounds, including children during the holidays, come here to use yoga to relax and beat the heat.

It’s a non-rigourous workout. It’s good for more than just your body. And in a world where everything is moving too fast, a yoga sessions forces you to slow down and savour the moment. 

Cost: Rs. 1500+taxes per month for classes three times a week and Rs. 2500+taxes per month for classes five times a week
Where: Asian Woman The Villa Spa, 3rd block Koramangala, Bangalore. 
Tel: 41219198


Bring your quota of mangoes and bring your friends as you join Bangalore in celebrating summer and the ‘king of fruits’ at Ranga Shankara. The annual Mango Party is for everyone and this is free event. A hit with the kids but also great fun for a group of grownups, tuck into the succulent fruit once you’ve added your contribution to the pool. Don’t be wary of getting your hands or face messy. It only adds to the experience. Roll up your sleeves and get started. There are no rules. The idea is just to build a sense of community, share a few laughs, form new memories and maybe make some friends in the process. Familiar faces from the theatre world and just those looking for a fun afternoon activity promise to be in attendance, along with many children. There will also be stories, quizzes, songs and games for everyone. Keep a lookout in the newspaper for the announcement of the next event date.

Bring two kilos of any variety of mangoes
Cost: Free
Where: Ranga Shankara, 8th Cross, II Phase, JP Nagar, Bangalore
Tel: 26493982 / 26592777

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