A look inside Mimi Partha Sarathy’s 103-year old heritage bungalow that is a sight to behold and has only improved with age.
Text by: Namita Gupta.
Photographs by: Faheem Hussain.
You might struggle to find another colour as you enter the well guarded gates of this 103-year old palatial home in Malleshwaram, Bengaluru. Green is the only hue you will find in myriad variations at Mimi Partha Sarathy’s sprawling abode spread over an area of 30,000 sq ft. The house is lined with over 100 species of indigenous trees and plants including Krishna ficus, Jacaranda, Tabebuia, wild almond, kanaka champa, kadamba, Ashoka, silk cotton, fiddle wood, banyan, banana, bilva, neem, honge, mango, avocado, grapefruit, naringi, grapefruit, guava, coconut, jamun, sapota and tamarind trees.
Mimi has just returned from the Mount Everest base camp and has hosted a 5k Walkathon in Malleshwaram and Sadashivnagar to raise funds for Ashwini Charitable Trust to sponsor students for KYM 500 hour yoga teacher training where her friend and actor Sangeeta Bijlani, Dr Sita Bhateja, Mimi’s dance guru Padmini Ravi besides many MLAs, DGPs, industrialists, sports personalities and others lent their support. With a spring in her step, the sprightly danseuse, an accomplished yogini and founder of Sinhasi Consultants, an investment planning and advisory firm, Mimi walks us around the well preserved abode as she explains, “My mother Vedavalli Parthasarathy fondly known as Vedu was brought up in Chennai when all houses had rambling large compounds with lots of trees and plants. Her great grandfather was the founder of Hindu High School and her grandfather was director of Imperial Bank now known as SBI. Her father was a barrister and this was our family summer house, where they would come to stay during the hot Chennai summers. My mom is a collector of sarees, jewellery, artefacts and antique furniture. She has a great aesthetic sense and has preserved all the heirlooms and antiques with a lot of passion and care. My dad’s family lived in Bengaluru, in another large house with a lavish garden of several acres on Sankey Tank that still exists. Both my grandfathers late MA Krishnamachari (my mom’s dad), a well-known barrister, and late MA Sreenivasan (my dad’s dad) who was minister in the Princely State of Mysore and was also Dewan of Gwalior, were great nature lovers. My father, late MA Parthasarathy was Chairman of World Wildlife Fund – India, and Chairman of the Education Commission, International Union for Conservation and Nature in Switzerland. So, big gardens and beautiful trees and plants are aspects I was always surrounded by all my life.”
There are two entrance gates to the house – one that leads to the Shri Krishna Wellness, Yoga and Cultural Center of which Mimi is the founder and managing trustee with the office of Sinhasi Consultants Pvt Ltd, a SEBI-Registered financial planning, advisory and distribution firm offering financial services for high net worth individuals adjacent to it and the other to her spacious home. The Sinhasi office space that is contemporary and functional where Mimi (double master in finance and marketing and diploma in accounting from Geneva, Switzerland) works was actually a cowshed in the olden days. Some of her clients include Kiran Mazumdar Shaw of Biocon, Waheeda Rehman, Ajoy Chawla, SVP of Titan, Dr Sunita Maheshwari of Teleradiology Solutions, Sunil Alagh, former MD, Britannia Industries, Shailesh Chaturvedi, MD &CEO, Tommy Hilfiger India, Sameer Nair, CEO, Balaji Telefilms and many other such prominent personalities. Mimi says, “Kiran Mazumdar Shaw is my mentor and guide and I work closely with her on many issues. She inaugurated this space with Sunil Alagh ten years back. I’ve designed this office space myself.” The other side that can be accessed after crossing many trees, creepers and plants still retains an old world charm.
“I’ve travelled across the world – Namibia, Kenya, Bhutan, Europe, Australia, Canada, US, UK, Alaska, Asia and so much more. I want to climb many more mountains, go deep sea diving and learn how to fly a plane. Whenever I travel abroad, I pick up seeds for my mother. My father, late MA Parthasarathy, a film maker, conservationist and environmentalist, writer and painter, businessman and industrialist, was also advisor to the government and part of the United Nations. I travelled all over the world with him from a young age and attended conferences on sustainable conservation and environmental issues. My mother finds her passion in Indian culture, music, dance, design and our rich Indian heritage and that’s where I drew my inspiration to be a Bharatnatyam dancer and yogi. I set up Sri Krishna Wellness Yoga and Cultural Centre to promote the rich heritage of Indian art and culture. Swamini Svatmabodhanda Saraswati, disciple of Swami Dayanand Saraswati is my Shastra Guru. We are associated with Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandira from Chennai and are starting 500 hour Yoga Teacher Training Certification Program which will be conducted here. Preserving our rich heritage and tradition is a duty, commitment and passion and this space allows me the freedom and ambience to do so with complete honesty and earnestness. I host daily yoga, pranayama and meditation sessions, classical dance classes, music, concerts and talks here,” states Mimi pointing to the large open courtyard with a Ganesha statue seated in the centre surrounded by greens. Trichur Brothers, Pushpa Anand and others have performed here with an audience of over 300 people with lanterns hanging on the trees and diyas all around.
I smell petrichor, an earthy scent that spreads after the rain falls on dry soil, combined with the lingering smell of jasmine, as I step inside Mimi’s heritage bungalow that is covered with a canopy of creepers at the entrance. The walls are adorned with traditional Tanjore and Mysore paintings and other artworks that remind one of a bygone era. “Although we have maintained the style of the old school of architecture that was used to build the house, we have renovated it in many places for the upkeep and maintenance. The entire flooring has been changed to wooden. In those days, one of my mother’s uncles designed the place, but my yoga hall is newly designed with mirrors on one side of the wall and glass on the other side that overlooks the greenery, albeit in a traditional manner with pillars and tiled roof by architect Deepa Shetty. The house is full of precious antiques all over the living rooms, dining area and the six bedrooms. These have come from our Chennai home and are at least 100 years old, including the rosewood furniture, Victorian marble artefacts, bronze statues and more. This kind of workmanship in Italian marble and rosewood is difficult to find these days. My mother also has an exquisite and enviable collection of heritage sarees and antique jewellery. Right now it’s only my mum and me who live in this house and maintaining the property is quite a task. My daughter Hamsini is completing her Masters in Conservation Biology, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia and we plan to set up a rescue and rehabilitation centre for captive elephants in India and an environmental conservancy trust for preserving the Indian Elephant, wildlife and precious forests of India,” shares Mimi as we browse through her beautiful abode that has managed to sustain a certain sense of elegance and tranquility over the years.
On our way out we feast some more on the green cover from the cherry, mulberry, flame of the forest, temple tree or plumeria, jackfruit, gulmohar, black bamboo, coffee, cassia spectabulus, oleander, silver oak and the fragrant flowering plants jasmine, wild roses, heliconias, ixoras, plumbago, cosmos, marigold, bird of paradise, portalaka and others. Some of the creepers like jaaji and malli, malathi, begonia grascilis, petrea volubilis, begonia venusta, Singapore malli, antigonon, homscoldia, bottle brush, powder puff and lantana are indeed a sight for sore eyes.