Sunday, March 16, 2008

The Leela Palace

Leela Palace BangaloreKempe Gowda who built the four towers more than 4 centuries ago to mark the ‘eventual’ boundaries of Bangalore, would never have imagined the city’s transformation over the last 150 years. The evolution from a city of a mud fort, few markets, military establishments and hamlets, to a British Cantonment – a mixture of army barracks, marching roads, parade grounds, and the attendant conceniences of ‘ a bit of England’ – started in 1809 when the English shifted their troops from Srirangapatna to Halasooru (Ulsoor).

Bangalore’s climate and setting, its strategic location in the political struggles of the time, the high ground nippiness of its air, and the sheer beauty of its landscape made it a easy choice.

Leela Palace BangaloreModern Bangalore, and most of its architectural tradition, has its origin in the cantonment seeding of the city and the introduction of bungalow style homes.

Leela Palace BangaloreBuilt in the architectural style of the Royal Palace of Mysore, Leela Palace epitomizes the opulence of a bygone era. The Leela was voted as the Best Business Hotel by Conde Nast in 2007 and as the business hotel with the best rooms in 2008. The rooms are large, airy and all of them come with pool or garden views.

Leela Palace Bangalore
The pictures here are of the hotel, its rooms and the royal portraits that adorn the corridors and rooms. Look carefully! The jewels on the portriats are real gemstones and pearls that have been embedded into the drawings!

Leela Palace BangaloreLeela Palace Bangalore Leela Palace Bangalore Earlier, as I drove down to Pune airport to catch my flight to Bangalore, I was not sure what to expect. There was an airport strike and yet I found flights on-time– airport privatization is already proving good for us! Of course, Calcutta was the only one completely in disarray. The Telegraph carried an article about a man who cracked his skull when he slipped in the puddle in the airport bathroom that had not been cleaned due to the strike. The poor guy is still in an ICU and not out of danger yet. That’s Bengal for you – more communist than even China and willing to go on strike at the drop of a hat!

Leela Palace Bangalore
I flew Kingfisher to Bangalore this time. Very much like Jet Airways in service quality if you can stand that much of red! They have hired all the cute girls from Jet, have decent airline food, complimentary headsets, and – believe it or not – live TV on-board. The news was not so good though! More signs of recession in the US, a slowdown in industrial growth in the country, and the markets were crashing – again!

Leela Palace BangaloreLeela Palace BangaloreLeela Palace Bangalore


Charles said...

With all that opulence it's truly sad how utterly unremarkable the food is there. The "Japanese" restaurant Zen is the worst of the lot. The fish is not fresh, which is the sine qua non of sushi, and the selection is miniscule. The staff is ignorant of even the basics of japanese food or sushi - I tried to order ordinary sushi items, and was brought things that were wildly incorrect.

Once upon a time Citrus was actually a reasonable restaurant - before the talented staff left, and they stopped sourcing high quality ingredients. The steaks are tough, and the hamburgers overcooked.

The exclusive "French" restaurant up on the fourth floor is a travesty. A tiny kitchen, tinned camembert, and foie gras cooked till it's tough. What does it take to make foie gras tough? You cook it in a pan until all the fat has been reduced out, and serve the sad remainder.

Do not go to the Leela expecting to eat well.

Anonymous said...

@charles: Welcome here and thank you for the detailed comment. I ate at the Jamavar and will have a post on that soon. Looks like I was wise in my choice! I only ventured into Citrus for breakfast and stayed with the local food items (idli, etc.) which were quite good. :-)

indicaspecies said...

Bangalore is one of my favourite cities. It is posh in many ways and weather-wise pleasant through many months.

I've been to Leela Palace for beer and bowling quite a few times, and have enjoyed each time. Their 24=hours-open coffee shop is a treat for night owls. ;)

Anonymous said...

@indicaspecies: It used to be for me too, but a long time ago. I hate the traffic now.

Anonymous said...

What interesting story and great pictures - it's always great to read your post as you always learn something interesting from all over the world - keep up the good work!

Wishing you a great weekend and A Happy Easter Holiday :-)

Anonymous said...

@rennyba: Thank you! Wish you a very Happy Easter holiday too.

sushma said...

If you’re in NZ, you’ve got to go fishing in Ruapehu. I’ve never seen such crystal clear waters in my entire life! Well, Ruapehu is one of the best places for trout fishing!

Lakshmi said...

well, im neither a great fan of the city or the hotel, but I do go there sometimes to shop

Unknown said...

If you’re going to Fiordland, you’ve got to catch an aerial view of the place. You can either take a float plane or helicopter. Also, don’t forget to take a walk on the Milford or Kepler tracks and stay at the huts overnight. It’s unforgettable.

Anonymous said...

@backpakker: I used to love the city when it was better known for its gardens than it's crowded streets. :-)

MIS said...

do you know who was the landscaping consultant/architect for the Leela Palace, Bangalore ?