THE GRANDEUR OF LUSH LANDSCAPES

Green outdoors with sprawling lush green lawns and elegant indoors with curios and artefacts collected from various travels make this 135-year old heritage bungalow a stunning visual treat

BY NAMITA GUPTA

She’s defined her property with a row of green and has been bagging awards galore over the years for her well manicured gardens. Priya Mascarenhas has all reasons to proudly proclaim the same as she takes us around her 135-year old mansion on Cookson Road in Richards Town. Her typical European style bungalow built by the British in the era gone by and bought by the family of Mohan Mascarenhas is like a breath of fresh air amidst the multitude high rises in the city. Businessman Mohan Mascarenhas who runs Metters International, a global engineering marketing company in Bengaluru and his wife Priya who have been living here for the last many decades, walk us around their beautiful property.

A recipient of many awards over the last few decades from the Mysore Horticulture Society, Lalbagh, Intach award for the best maintained heritage home in 2016 and more …the awards list is endless and so is one of the well stocked rooms filled with trophies that she’s won for her garden. “I’ve been winning these awards for the last 40 years. In my little cottage outside the house there’s another room that has over 100 trophies. This year again on Independence Day, I’ve received the consolidated rolling shield for Best Private Ornamental Garden. There are 25 fully grown fruit trees avocado, mango, guava, custard apple, jackfruit and figs encompassing the house, besides many plant species like roses, orchids, ginger lilies and heliconiums, asparagus, ferns in my ornamental tropical and fruit garden, with a waterfall and Japanese bridge. I developed this garden for my special child Champa,” says the lady with the green thumb, who has worked as director, marketing, Spencer International Hotels and the Taj Group. The coffee planter’s daughter who won the Woman of the Year National Award for the best Woman Executive by the former President Gyani Zail Singh is also one of the directors with Metters International.

Curios, Lladro artefacts, paintings, wall hangings and Swarovski collectibles adorn the walls and every corner of the house. These have been collected over the years from their various travels from across the globe. As we browse around the house, the avid traveller shares, “I’ve gone on 29 cruises and Mohan and I have together travelled to over 80 countries. Most of the home décor has been collected from different countries. This is our family room and most of the souvenirs like these African brides artwork are from our trip to Africa. Some of the flowers, vases and paintings are from Bucharest, artworks from Thailand, camphor chests from China, trunks, dowry boxes, Oriental masks, Buddha faces and statues, rare lamps and vintage clocks from various other countries.” There are icons from St Petersburg (as she’s a devout Catholic) and tapestries from Belgium that jostle for space amidst the many figurines, wall hangings and Egyptian paintings all over the house.

What catches my fancy are the blue porcelain plates that line the entire house. The covetous collector of plates reveals, “Some of these plates are from China and some from Belgium, Peru, Japan, France, Bucharest, England, Italy, Delft and Turkey. I love collecting blue plates and have bought a whole lot of them. I was a blue plate collector and had over 700 plates, but over the years I’ve gifted some to my daughter Nisha Rebello, who is now also working as director, Metters International. We have 12 rooms in this one storey house and a guest house outside the house with a jasmine garden in between this half an acre property.” “I also paint,” adds the lady with a keen artistic hand, pointing to all the canvasses that hang on the walls with some of her artworks. There are also a collection of Batik paintings from Bali in Champa’s room.

The old world charm is retained with wooden beam high ceilings, tiled roofs and Tuscan pillars. The entire kitchen is made from stained glass and continuing with the theme of plates on walls, there are again many elegant Dutch plates lined beautifully on top of the kitchen lofts. The bathrooms have been renovated with modern fittings, but the old style of construction with Spanish tiles and stained glass adds to the charm. “I’ve painted some of the stained glasses in the kitchen myself and have bought some. The bathroom tiles that we got from Spain are so much prettier and actually cheaper than the higher end Indian tiles. The rearside of my house still retains the old Bangalore charm, how it was 135 years back with kadapa black stone floor tiles. I have my linen room here and my massage room. I also have a room where I keep my coffee and pepper that we get from our daughter’s plantations.” says Priya. We love the natural light, ventilation and fresh oxygen that enters the spacious home from the ornamental garden.