Maniumpathy

It’s a rather gloomy and rainy Wednesday. I’d thoughts about canceling my scheduled visit, but on a whim, decided against it and stepped out of the house anyways. I’ve a fascination with old houses – properties that have been home to generations of families, and that are over 100 years of age. There’s something about houses that have history attached to it; there’s an inclination of charm and character unlike any other and there’s plenty of stories behind every crevice and brick.  

I explored Maniumpathy that day. The name alone intrigued me. I’m told it is derived from the city that the current owners’ family of this house came from – Manipay (Manipai), Jaffna. It was known to have been the Colombo 7 of the North, although the area had plenty of greenery and fields of paddy. The people were known to have been a dedicated and hard-working lot, which says a lot to be honest as many of them were health practitioners and doctors who came to Colombo on work.  

  


Dr. Savaranamuttu Hallock was one of them. He passed out as a doctor from the University of Aberdeen, after which he joined the Ceylon Medical Service. Since he had to move to Colombo to practice medicine, the property was bought over from its original owner and renovated to suit his family. The house was said to have been built in the year 1868. Technically therefore, the house is over 150 years of age. The front edifice has the year 1906 stamped across it and I’m guessing that was year the Dr. Hallock took over and it became the beautiful homey abode to him and his wife Annapuranie, and their nine children.

It was a stately house, as were plenty of others along the same street, originally known as Harley Street (currently Kynsey Road) and home to many health practitioners much like Dr. Hallock. Colonial attributes were a common feature – the well balanced structure and design of the house, the lush garden around it along with a back terrace, the wide and open front porch leading to the central living space, dining area and of course the personal living areas. Open ventilation and space was a prominent feature, as were minimalistic decorative motifs around the home; pillars that supported the back veranda area, antique furniture with fleur de lis motifs, and the beautifully carved eaves on the edges of the roof.

The house has turned over five generations and has been passed over to the next generation through the hands of the females. I’m quite surprised that this is so but in the most pleasant way possible. Currently, Adrian and Chrysanthie Basnayake are the home owners and eventually it will be passed over to their daughter, Annapuranie Anithra Basnayake.

Today, the home and has once again been painstakingly renovated to its original form with the aid of Architect Chamika de Alwis. It took over five years to complete, as attention to detail was key and it was important to retain much of its original charm and features. It has humbly since been open to visitors and guests alike as a boutique hotel in the heart of the city; Maniumpathy – the name paying homage to Manipay and the word ‘pathy’ means ‘home’ in Tamil.

The rooms at Maniumpathy pays homage to the strong and beautiful women of the family. The grand Master Suite has been named after Annapuranie, the first lady of the house. The other seven rooms are named after Soundhari, Poornam, Cynthia, Ranee, Vasanthi, Chrysanthie and Anithra. The room named after Chrysanthie was in fact originally Dr. Hallock’s clinic at one time.

Apart from the name concocting a connection to the family’s northern origins, there are strong resemblances and other characteristic features throughout Maniumpathy. Open space and ventilation is still a common feature and adds to the cosy and homey aspect of this colonial home. The garden has obviously been narrowed down as the left section gave rise to a new wing with an upper level to house more rooms.

The terrace opens out to a smaller garden space, flanked by the right and left wings, furnished with chairs and table suitable for enjoying a warm cup of coffee and perhaps even breakfast or an evening snack. Dusk, I’m told, brings about a soft and relaxed ambience. Lamps are lit in keeping with the calm and peaceful atmosphere. This area also overlooks a pool and a statue of the deity Nandi. The name stems from the Tamil word that means ‘ to grow’ or ‘to flourish’ and in Sanskrit means joy or happiness. His statue, I believe, therefore has been strategically placed, overlooking the entire edifice in the hopes of bringing about growth and happiness in the best way.

Decorative motifs are very much a prominent and common feature; apart from the additional northern trinkets that have been placed around the house – there’s also the grand ebony dining table that sits magnificently on the right wing, vintage lamps and Bakelite telephones, the bookshelves are well stocked with an array of best reads, and the classic furnishing combined with the white and grey washed walls add much character to this stately home. The Chrysanthie room includes an old stairway which has been restored finely, the two deluxe rooms named after Soundhari and Poornam include Jaffna style open courtyard bathrooms, and there are plenty of old photographs of the entire family placed in antique frames and scattered about Maniumpathy that give it a very homey effect.

I find Maniumpathy to be an oasis in the heart of Colombo; as although it is located on one of the most congested streets of the city, it somehow manages to retain an air of softness and charm. There’s something about it, from the moment you walk in; there’s that telltale aura of simplicity although there’s plenty of history and heritage. There’s comfort in sinking into one of the large couches or even sitting outside overlooking the grass and the pool. Nandi silently watches over.

I’m told that many European painters have stayed at the boutique hotel and chosen to find inspiration in its peaceful atmosphere. Older guests have been known to relate tales of how they used to play in this very house as children.

And the charm of generations that have lived before and Manipay lives on.
–Pictures courtesy Manor House Concepts– 

 

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My Saturday :)

I woke as usual this morning; groggy and a little angry that it was 8am. I forced myself back to sleep and was back up by 10am. Still too early I thought in my head but then one of my besties buzzed me about my plans for the day. Of course I had no solid plans so I jumped the gun and said let’s do something. We got another one of my besties up as well and here’s a look at our day at t Lounge, Upali’s by Nawaloka, Flamingo House and the Viharamaha Devi Park!

Cheese and mushroom waffle

 

Spicy chicken crepe

 

Blueberry and pomegranate iced tea

 

Outdoor look of Flamingo House

 

You are asked to leave little love notes on the tables outside; I couldn’t think of anything fancy to write so I wrote an inspiring quote instead 😀

 

The interior

 

The famous flamingo!

 

Apple and raspberry juice, and apple and cucumber juice
The view of the Colombo Municipal Council from the Viharamaha Devi Park

 

Xoxo

 

A day in Galle Fort

Spent a day in Galle Fort a few days ago and here are a couple of snaps I managed to capture…. 

Gotta be the best fresh gelato!

 

The fort court
 
 
The refurbished Dutch hospital; now a dining complex
 
 
A little boutique store that caught my eye
 
 
Retail therapy!
 
 
Beach loving
 
 
My lunch – seafood curry rice at Peddlar’s Inn
 
Xoxo! 

Fatehpur Sikri – The City of Victory

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As once the capital of the Mughal empire, the city of victory, also known as Fatehpur Sikri bears exceptional testimony to the once grand and highly influential era of reigning kings and queens.

Located approximately a two-hour drive away from Agra, Uttar Pradesh, this Indian city was founded in the year 1569 by the Mughal Emperor Akbar. It remained as the capital city from the year 1571 to 1585 during which it was regarded as one of the most influential eras of all time.

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Back when…
Emperor Akbar began work on this capital in the year 1571 and it was said to have been completed in a matter of two years. The architect who worked on the main palace was Tuhir Das. Apart from being influenced by Persian architecture, Indian principles (including Hindu, Jain and Islamic elements of architectural design) can also be seen. Carved beams and posts, decorated pillars, ornamental arches, detailed brackets and balconies are a constant feature. Domes on the other hand have been built very sparingly. An efficient and well organized system of drainage and water supply was also adopted suggesting an intelligent and far-thinking planning strategy by the emperor.

All in all, the then city comprised of a series of palaces, public buildings, harems, places of worship (mosques), as well as living areas for the emperor’s entire court, army and servants as well as the entire population of commoners. Although it is probable from the ruins of mud huts on the plain surroundings that the people of Fatehpur Sikri were not well-off, the area was rich in sandstone which was primarily used to build the entire city and its main buildings.

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The royal palace of Fatehpur Sikri stands tall (even to this day) on a rocky plateau, bound on three sides by a 6km wall and fortified by towers and gates. A man-made lake was said to have planked the fourth side but this does not exist today. Regardless of how many years this palace had been abandoned, visitors throng to this part of the city just to get a glimpse of the architectural grandeur and splendour of its yesteryears. Each section of the palace was constructed, keeping in mind of how best each section could be used and also in keeping with its natural surrounding – including a hall for the public audience, a jewel house, a pavilion, an entertainment hall, stables and also a grand mosque.

Standing at 54 metres at the entrance of the palace complex is the Buland Darwaza – a wall-like fortification entrance gate gradually making a transition to human scale on the inside. The emperor was known to have been a very pious man and many places of worship and religious monuments were constructed during his reign, including the grand mosque – Jama Masjid – which lies beyond the Buland Darwaza. It can accommodate over 10,000 worshippers and was said to have been built sometime during the completion of the main palace. High red sandstone walls flank this mosque and at the centre of the court lies the tomb (made of white marble) of Sheik Salim Chisti (a devout follower and Sufi saint of Islam). The tomb is elaborately decorated with carvings and floral patterns and the sarcophagus itself is surrounded by detailed work and excellent craftsmanship only known to the Mughal era. Jodha Bai (Emperor Akbar’s wife) was gifted a palace of her own which lies in close proximity to the mosque and main royal palace. This too consists of a large main courtyard at its centre which is surrounded by a continuous gallery.

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Above this gallery rise rows of buildings on the north and south end of the palace. Made of the famous red sandstone, the courtyard opens up to the Panch Mahal also known as the five-storey building and the private audience chamber (also known as the Diwan-i-Khas). Whilst the Panch Mahal is of five galleries, one above the other and adorned with carved motifs, the private audience chamber consists of an enormous octagonal pillar, a circular centre and four separate galleries that run to the corners of the chamber. This is where the Emperor Akbar met with the general public and adhered to their grievances and requests. It is known that he also gathered his many representatives of different religions here and discussed their faiths.

At the centre of the second large courtyard lies the Anup Talao – an ornamental pool with a central platform and four small bridges leading up to it. The other buildings of the royal enclave are situated around this, including the drum house, another public court and the house of Emperor Akbar’s favourite minister, Birbal.

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World heritage site
Fatehpur Sikri is in fact well kept and fortified even centuries later. One description of a visitor’s personal account goes on to say “the palace was deserted, not ruined, and its lord was not dead but abandoned… everything is carved in a sandstone so fine and compact, that, except where injured by man, it appears nearly as sharp as when first chiselled. The amount of labour bestowed on this city throws the filigrees of the Alhambra quite into the shade and it is unlike anything that I have ever seen.”

Although the Taj Mahal is the most known monument in the region of Agra, the grandeur of Fatehpur Sikri should not be underestimated. There truly is no other facade of this kind, be in form of structure or architectural brilliance. There is a sense of simplicity that welcomes you even amongst the grand decorated pillars and endless rows of galleries. A mere hour or two would not suffice here; its best to take time and spend at least half a day walking through the rooms, stopping to take in the view of the land beyond the palace, sit by the ornamental pool whilst a light breeze fills the air and image a group of men singing khawalis at dusk.

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Weekly Snap!

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Throwback to a few days ago when my husband and I visited a majestic palace in the city of Jaipur. I’m completely amazed by the stunning architecture and grandeur of this palace that was home to a king and queen for generations.  The Ambar Palace is located some 30 minutes away from the main city and is surrounded by the Ambar Fort which reminds me of the Great Wall of China.

Xoxo