Sunday, June 21, 2009

Life at the Ajanta Hotel


Our contact in Bangalore had forgotten to book our hotel and was untraceable on his mobile; we were in a bit of a jam as we were taking an evening flight from Delhi and would reach fairly late into the city after the commute from the new airport. Staying at one of the many hotels who have counters at the airport was not a possibility given their tariffs and the size of our wallets so I went online to identify a budget hotel in a part of the city with which we were familiar. A hotel, the Ajanta Hotel on M.G.Road was identified and a couple of rooms were quickly booked. Still a nagging worry remained as MG Road is after all a big and crowded place.

The first surprise came at Bangalore airport when we mentioned the Ajanta Hotel to the taxi driver and he nodded matter of factly. He didn’t seem surprised or worried or have any questions about the location and after about an hour’s ride, he whisked out of the car and announced that we had arrived at our hotel. It was getting late and after a quick dinner, we retired to our rooms. Since that trip, I have made many, many trips to Bangalore, but whenever I can, I have always made it a point to stay there.

There are some hotels that either because of their age or long followed traditions and customs, acquire an “atmosphere” that can certainly not be ever described but fully experienced. At first glance, the Ajanta looks like a small township. It is located just off the proposed Trinity Circle metro station on the perennially busy M.G.Road and yet it is sufficiently tucked away from it to cut off practically all noise and bustle. And yet inside, it is another kind of bustle and the township is thriving.

The hotel has been popular as a hotel that hosts wedding parties and inside there are two wedding halls which seem huge. The small township inside much like a shopping colonnade that one might find in a luxury hotel but much more utilitarian has shops to cater to practically all needs. There is a florist; a big sized travel agency with several taxis parked outside, a well stocked provision shop, a snack shop, phone booths, internet cafes. Though a bit away from the main road, none of the shops are apparently lacking in business.

There is a restaurant attached to the hotel that serves you a very filling lunch or dinner for Rs 35.00, a practically unheard of price in most places ; much less in a business hot spot. The restaurant is no hole in the wall outfit; in the mornings, breakfast can be had for as little as Rs 20.00 and the fact is not secret. The dining hall is quite full in the mornings, particularly with young working couples usually dropping in for a bite, something quite affordable at these rates.

In spite of all that is happening in the hotel complex, the pace is languid and easy paced. The staff is polite, helpful and refuses to be caught up in the rapid pace of life, just a few hundred meters away and best exemplified by the construction of the Metro Station, just outside the hotel. At times, when it is no longer the wedding season, uniformed waiters (of whom there are many), wander around the lounges - one in each floor –waiting to take orders for tea or coffee or room service, at their usual leisurely pace. As I checked out one more time out of the Ajanta Hotel, one more time last week, I couldn’t hope but wander as to how long such a leisurely pace of life, tracing its ancestry from the time when Bangalore was a pensioner’s paradise would last. And yet watching the crowded dining room full of laptop wielding techies, it seems that the hotel is currently a much sought after bridge between the mad house outside and the measured grace inside. And hopefully sooner, rather than later, I will be back again.

1 comment:

Winnowed said...

Very useful review