Aalaya means home and this huge villa on the outskirts of Bangalore, is certainly a very grand version of one.
Its very grandeur makes it a home with a difference, one that plays host to weddings and other personalized events that are enhanced by its charming environs and lavish ambience.
Aalaya is an offering by Happy Retreats, a creative hospitality brand.
About Happy Retreats –
A creative hospitality firm specializing in taking over the management of non performing assets of villa owners and converting them into wedding destinations or resorts or getaways, is how they describe themselves.
These carefully hand picked villas are idyllic settings for any celebration and are mainly located on the outskirts of Bangalore.
Happy Retreats curates bespoke experiences at these venues, fashioning offbeat and memorable celebrations for their clientele.
Conceived by Pradeep Gowriraju and his partner in 2016, their current count of such Happy destinations stands at 4 villas in various locations, namely Aalaya, Le Bluz, Villa Ayana and Backyard, with more in the offing.
The 2 partners had already been into the noble profession of planning surprises and curating celebration experiences for their guests 😀 under the brand name Happy Planner.
A growing clamor from their loyal client base to further enhance experiences by providing offbeat locales, led to the idea of scouting for suitable abodes that were lying unused by their owners. This in turn opened up ‘win win win’ opportunities for the new brand Happy Retreats, the guest and also the host venue.
About Aalaya –
Aalaya, the latest acquisition by Happy Retreats, is a grand villa that is ensconced within a sprawling 8.6 acres land. Barely 25 km from the heart of Bangalore city, this is a haven that is ‘So near and yet so beautiful’.
The home was built 20 years ago by its owners who visited it occasionally but did not actually occupy it.
This mansion continues to retain its brand new and well maintained appearance along with its neatly manicured lawns, gardens ablaze with brightly colored flowers and hundreds of beautiful trees.
An apt venue for weddings, owing to its large spaces and classy interiors, this success story has been witness to the hitching of over 20 couples within the span of a few months, which is a good thing for the brand and hopefully for those who got married 😀
Aalaya features –
The stately home is a mix of traditional architecture coupled with modern luxuries and the classy interiors are done up tastefully with elegant furnishings and artefacts.
There are a total of 5 spacious bedrooms on 2 levels, furnished with large beds, dressing area and modern washrooms.
There is a refreshing view from both the large windows of the bedrooms.
The mezzanine level above the 1st floor, also houses a library.
There is a porch on the ground floor and a corridor that runs around the house. Likewise there is an airy balcony on the first floor, which circumvents the house. One can have an expansive view of the lawns and grounds from here.
The house occupies around 8000 sq ft and the surrounding space is naturally conducive for celebrations, with 4 locations to pick from.
The adjacent lawn is complete with a large swing and the auspicious canopy of 2 Rudraksha trees make it an ideal place for pre wedding functions like Mehndi etc.
The main lawn in front of the house can seat upto a 1000 people theater style.
An amphitheater alongside a gurgling fountain, also provides a suitable venue for small gatherings.
A pavilion bordered by curved trellises perched atop stone pillars and a stone podium in the center, recreates an ideal setting where vows can be exchanged.
Apart from these amenities, there is a kitchen that can cater to around 50 guests at a time.
The rest of the land is a veritable paradise with several trees and plants including a mini coffee and pepper plantation, a large banana plantation, a sizeable mango orchard, areca trees, coconut trees, an all spice tree and several other fruit trees like chikoo, guava, gooseberry, jackfruit, papaya, pomelo etc.
The grounds dotted with golden orbs of fallen pomelos was a sight that sent me into ecstasies and they were kind enough to pluck a fresh one for me 😀
February saw mango flowers turning into baby mangoes, holding the promise of a sweet harvest to come. My camera caught an inflorescence that was serendipitously formed like a mango itself … the Shape of things to come, so to speak 😀
The several varieties of flowers cover the hedges in a riot of color, enticing butterflies and bees that make fluttering sorties on the nectar.
This is the first time that I saw rain flowers growing on small shrubs instead of the usual large trees 😀
Of course this place is also a haven for several species of birds and one is treated to complimentary background birdsong all day long.
A cowshed, a beautiful temple and the caretaker’s house are also situated in compound.
A paved walkway runs uninterrupted along the periphery of the property and makes a great walking/jogging track. Look out for the caretaker’s enthusiastic dogs though 😀 I was told that they are harmless but I would not take my chances without a staff member accompanying me.
A lone discarded bouquet lies nestled in the fork of a mango tree, a reminder of the wedding that it was a part of. Of course this is not a permanent feature of the place but I found it apt and endearing and hence made it permanent on my blog 😀
While large gatherings will arrange for their own caterers, crowds of upto 50 people can be handled by the in house cooks and kitchen. The food that I was served was generic North Indian food, decent but nothing outstanding. I was told that a more elaborate menu was on the cards and the training the present staff was Work in Progress.
However, service is very friendly and accommodating and the managers and staff go out of their way to attend to guests.
Future plans also include long, lazy weekend brunches on the lawns, with trained chefs who can work with customized cuisines.
For those who want a weekend break with family or for corporate team building events, there is action provided in the form of a pottery class where the potter brings his wheel and clay and guides you into fashioning your own creation. Of course I sucked at it but the potter helped me to produce items that were recognizable 😀
Kite flying is also organized for children.
Movies are screened on the large screen TV in the living room.
The library is of course, always a refuge for those who want to hide behind a book.
At night one can enjoy the bonfire (or have barbeque arranged) and sit in the amphitheater gazing at the moon with the lights of the bungalow in the background.
Internet Connectivity –
Being quite within Bangalore city, all mobile and internet signals work as intended. There is no wi fi provided.
Best time to visit –
As a wedding destination, this would obviously be in demand during the auspicious season but for all other events, any time of the year is equally good, considering Bangalore’s salubrious climate that is further refined in the midst of dense green.
Visitor Profile –
The venue is befitting for celebrating weddings or any private, intimate, social events.
It is also suitable for family getaways, corporate team bonding and a very apt location for photo shoots.
Getting there –
Aalaya is a bare 25 km from MG Road, the heart of Bangalore city. Local cabs (including app based) are available and the nearest metro stop of Nagasandra, is 3 km away.
Yeshwantpur railway station is 15 km, and Kempegowda International Airport is 40 km away.
My Journey –
My journey by cab barely took 1 hour from the Cantonment area of Bangalore.
Booking and contact –
Phone – 8448446690
Please Note – This is a collaboration, based on the invitation of Aalaya by Happy Retreats and I thank them for hosting me with their warm hospitality.
The narrative is based on the inputs that I received from various sources as well as my own experiences.
Feb 18th – 19th, 2019