The garden house

Vintage House


Drive on Bull Temple Road and what greets you instantly is the incessant traffic and of
course, the wedding bands and music blaring from the surrounding Kalayana Mantaps.

But amidst all this cacophony, stands a 100-year-old house that has braved both the good and the bad times and emerged strong and sturdy. Vasumathi Raghunath has been living here and what hits you, as you enter, is its lush green surroundings and the smell of fresh flowers. No wonder, this garden bagged the Horticultural Society award fourteen times in row.

Passion fruit trees, plumeria trees, temple trees, lemon trees play host to various creepers. Flower plants fill the place with a delicate fragrance. Little terracotta horses and elephants, placed in various corners of the garden, add to the ornamentation. “You know, even the people at Lalbagh are surprised at the size of my plumeria tree. They say it’s the biggest in Bangalore,” says Vasumathi with pride.

The house, including the grills and gate, is painted green. The cornice moulding that surround the house meet the Mangalore tiles above the main door. Originally built in the old Mysore style, the house used to have a mesh covered verandah flanked by two rooms on either sides. Security concerns and the needs of growing family necessitated a renovation. Soon the mesh cover was replaced by walls.

Walk through the living room and what strikes you is the high ceiling with beautiful titles.

The Kadappa slabs painted in white are supported by wooden beams. Every year, the family has to spruce up the ceiling to prevent water seepage.

The rooms, some of them with double doors, lead from one room to another. British-styled windows with two sets of shutters, one made of glass the other made of wood, are placed even on the walls inside the house. To supplement the lighting from the windows, ventilators are placed high above, close to the ceiling.

The walls, made of mortar, haven’t been replastered. The only change, in this regard, is that the original wiring, which was once visible has now been concealed. Needlework creations, more than a hundred years old, sewn by Vasumathi’s grandmother, adorn the wall.

The family has retained the original flooring which is a mixture of Kadappa slabs, granite in some places and mud tiles in others. The contrast is interesting. The grey granite merges beautifully with the black Kadappa slabs which in turn bring out the warm glow of the burnt orange mud tiles. Seven-year-old S T Raghav is fortunate enough to grow up in such a spacious garden with plenty of room to run around. He is the fifth generation living in this house.  

Speaking about her home Vasumathi says, “It’s our ancestral house. There are so many traditions, so much history and so many memories attached to this place. You know famous people like TVK Chari used to come here to play table tennis. After all, old is gold.

If we sell it, we’ll get nothing but money. It’s strong and still looks new. My grandson has so much place to play in. We play cricket outside. Where will you find such a house now?”

The Raghunath family bought the house in the early 1930s from Tara Bai. Even if the house demands constant maintenance, the family has no plans to relocate whatsoever.

“My garden is here and I love it. So much has happened in this house, so many generations have lived here. We aren’t moving to any other place,” says Vasumathi.

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