The late Victoria Hotel, Residency Road, once a Jewel in the Crown of
Bangalore, now a Memory!
Many of you Bangalorewallas and those of you who visited the
City of Bangalore were treated to a view of a beautiful old building on
Residency Road, actually on the corner of Commissariat Road, and opposite
to the Mayo Hall. Many of you would have spent many an hour over a delicious
breakfast of 'appam and stew' at the 'New' Victoria Hotel (wonder
why was it called New?). This old building, definitely over a hundred
years old, having the 'coat of arms' (The Crown, Lion and Unicorn)
bearing the Latin words 'Honi - Soit - Qui - Mal - Y - Pense' ,
not sure what it means, anyone can help with the translation? My guess
is that it was a Guest House or Tea Room from the setting of the hall and
side rooms, or for all you know, it could have been a Pub!! The owners,
the family Motha of Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), when I spoke to one of the
brothers John Motha, he did not seem to know about the utility of the building
before their family took over around the '50's. Any how it was known
for its homely atmosphere as a lodge as there were cottages that families
could rent for holidays and also short trips by businessmen wanting the
luxurious of an in-house well stocked bar and restaurant serving good quality
food, close to Brigade Road and M.G. Road (South Parade). As most of the
old buildings have given way to so called 'development', this beautiful
old majestic building crumbled down to dust about a year and half ago (
we are now in Nov.2003).
Today a large multi-utility office complex is coming up, and there
is no trace of any sort in the new structure (yes, concrete and glass)
that reflects the old building, and so we have a Requiem for another landmark
of Bangalore. Put to death by the Bangaloreans with a little help from
the ever eager builders who obviously are not locals, or else they would
have had a little conscience to place some tradition into their work.
You may feel that I am very hard on the builders, please excuse me, but
if you have lived in Bangalore for more than a few days and have found
comfort in her arms in the past, you would look around and see the forced
pace of 'decimating' Bangalore all in the name of so called 'modernisation'.
Even in a large city like Bombay , Mumbai to the now generation, people
have not gone on a rampage within the city and brought down buildings left
and right in the name of progress, but instead, they have gone to the outskirts
and built around the city instead. Something that Bangalore should have
done decades ago before the influx of property developers from the
western region of the country. Who is to blame, the local Bangalorewalla
itself!!. Quick and easy way of getting rid of large ancestral property,
with no children left behind to look after the same, most of the youngsters
had fled to the US, Australia and other overseas locations to get a better
Now, Bangalore is caught up with the lack of 'local' youth, and what
we see around is the kids from the northern states of India, all sucked
in the vortex of the 'IT" Revolution, which is spearheaded by the Multinationals
using Bangalore as their playground. Instead of going outside the city,
the 'IT' groups are taking over the city, every old building is getting
a facelift change and it's happening everywhere. If you have some space
in your house, if you have a compound, people keep bugging you to 'sell
out' and go in for 'flats' (bird cages I call them) and live like ants in
colonies, dictated by one another's fancies. The more one bellows, the more
powerful one becomes in this society. I was just pondering if there was
any old building left on Residency Road besides the Mayo Hall, Municipal
Buildings, New Opera (this is a platinum mine for the real estate agents
and builders, as it's an old theater, just got back by the owners after numerous
court cases, and now disused), the famous 'eye sore' Cash Pharmacy and
Bangalore Club, perhaps one could include buildings of St. Joseph's College,
Sacred Heart's Girl's School, Bishop Cotton's Boys and Girls, and of course
the neighbour of the old Victoria Hotel, which is the Army Recruitment
HQ!! This building is definitely an older generation
to the hotel.
The entrance of the old Victoria Hotel, had a portico, rather squarish,
and without the usual tiled high arched entrance.
The tiles on the top of the building suggested that it is
around 1900 period. The main entrance faced North, and welcomed one into
a large hall. There were rooms to the left and right, but these were
part of the hall.
Entering the hall you were faced with three ventilators, the center one
being the same coat-of-arms as the one outside the building, and the other
two were an assortment of flowers and fruits respectively.
The building was very airy because of its high tiled roof, and going
around to the back also held the same high cross roof running north to
south from the center of the hall. There were also some beautiful trees
all around which gave shade and added to the coolness of the building. One
actually felt like a picnic coming for an outdoor lunch or tea which was
normally served in the small garden in front of the porch. The owners of
Victoria Hotel always kept a nice green garden and that also removed part
of the pollution from the main road in front of the hotel on which thousands
of vehicles plied every day.
There was a cluster of cottages to the right of the main building and
that was probably built in a later period as the styles did not seem
related. The frontage of this cottage had some decorative frame work
which reminded one of the style found in Tippu's palace in the city, and
also in the Santa Cruz church in Cochin. The main gate of the hotel was
closed by the traffic police as it was supposed to have disturbed the flow
of traffic on Residency Road, and the entrance was transferred to the Commissariat
Road, and the cottage was then on your right when you entered.
This building , the Victoria Hotel is surely missed not only from the
skyline of Bangalore, but from the eating places one gets attached to.
I am reminded by the small eating joint called 'The Only Place' that was
within the compound of Snaize Bros. undertakers which also had to give
way to 'modernisation' by the introduction of 'Mota Arcade' at the base
of Brigade Road. The Only Place tried to revive in a modern atmosphere
within Mota Arcade, but it was never the same as the original, where one
could get a 'barbecue' and was frequently visited by the 'Woodstock' followers
of the day, the replacement I think closed up. If Victoria Hotel does try
to make an eating place within the new building, the ambiance is not the
same and one will have the usual problem of 'parking' , I doubt it will
ever take off!! A similar family restaurant with a great children's play
park (one hopefully may find a child's park at Airlines Hotel on Lavelle Road,
but that too has a very provoking building next to it in steel, concrete and
glass!!) a few buildings up the road on M.G. Road couldn't be revived and
one finds a rather imposing 'prestigious' building in its place. I came
across an article in the Femina magazine some years back (1997?) titled
'Can Bangalore Be Rescued?' by Sandhya Mendonca, that had quite a few thought
probing statements about Bangalore, still nobody cared all these years, and
now ardent lovers of the City of Bangalore still ask the same question,
'Can Bangalore be Rescued?', I would add, 'From the Bangaloreans!!'.
e-mail: Ronnie 1 (or)
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Thought for the
Blessed are you poor, For yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are
you who hunger now, For you shall be filled. Blessed are you who weep now, For you shall laugh.
Blessed are you when men hate you, And when they exclude you, And revile you,
and cast out your name as evil, For the Son of Man's sake.
Rejoice in that day and leap for joy! For indeed your reward is great in heaven,
Fon in the manner their fathers did to the prophets.
But woe to you who are rich, For you have received your consolation.
Woe to you who are full, For you shall hunger. Woe to you who laugh now,
For you shall mourn and weep. Woe to you when all men speak well of you,
For so did they fathers to the false prophets."
Holy Bible: Luke 6:20-26