A gracious, old home in Allahabad, India

Driving through the chaotic traffic of Allahabad- you come to the locality of Civil Lines-and enter through a red painted gate into a haven of greenery and quiet. The old-style red gate, the moss covered drive lined with old trees and then the low, creeper laden white washed bungalow are all indicative of the graciousness that lies within.
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My sister’s friend, Vandana, better known by her pet name, Munmun (most self-respecting Indians have pet names and are known mainly by these !) greets us warmly at her front facing verandah. I love verandahs, especially those with floors such as this one. They are of highly polished concrete with marble chips. We call them ‘mosaic’floors. These were put into most Indian homes from the 1950’s.
To tell you the truth, I am having a whale of a time doing what I have ALWAYS wanted to do–explore home interiors ! And now I have an excuse- I write this blog !

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As we sit on beautiful, woven cane-backed chairs, Munmun’s husband, Ladlie Tandon joins us. He is of slight build and is soft spoken. His dignity and humility are expressions of his refined and cultured background.

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This house had been acquired by his great grandfather, a zamindar, looked after by his grandfather-owner of many estates and Member of the Legislative council in Lucknow and lived in by his father- a well known lawyer of the High Court at Allahabad.
Ladlie and Munmum moved into this house in 1994 upon the death of his father. He resigned from his post as a senior executive in Tata Steel Company(who, by the way, according to him, are one of the finest employers anyone can have!) to return to look after his ageing mother and house. Wonder how many would do this sort of thing today ?
The house- you have guessed it- has grown to be old. 150 years old !
The structure remains the same except that the terracotta tiled roof has been replaced with a flat concrete roof, mosaic floors added, wiring concealed and the verandahs on all four sides of the house have been enclosed. It remains honest to its origins and therefore more beautiful!

The verandah opens into two rooms in the middle–an enormous drawing room and a large dining room. And it opens on either side into a study on the left and a bedroom on the right.These two rooms continue into two or three rooms each on either side of the house-opening into verandahs-what sense of space!

A view of the drawing room with an old, marble-topped table with antique blue and white Chinese porcelain –
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Many pieces of the furniture are high quality antiques as are the bric a brac placed around with love and care. The vintage of most things is not too clear to their owners except that they are very old ! But with any guesses, I suppose they would be between 100 to 150 years old.

On another marble topped table, a beautiful glass piece from Murano and two pieces in crystal, probably Bohemian.
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A view of the front part of the drawing room-
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On another wall, embossed green porcelain plates, again, acquired possibly by their grandfather-

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A view of the dining room through the drawing room-
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A view from the other side- I love the polished brass planters that hold lush, green plants, obviously cared for-
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The beautiful old cabinet in the dining room-
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When I mentioned that I like crystal/glass only in the form of decanters(see my tablescape with decanters by clicking here), Munmun led me to a side board with beautiful old crystal decanters (Waterford ?). This was only a preview because they have many more inside their cupboards !
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A view of the dining room-
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This room opens into a large room which houses lots of cupboards. This leads into the main bedroom with a beautiful bed in teak wood-
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An old photograph of Ladlie’s grandfather, Rai Bahadur Behari Lal in formal dress-brocade shervani, churidar pyjama and matching cap-
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And one of the gracious Tandons themselves-
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What a joy this was-to see beauty and dignity-and to see the care taken of an old, old home ! It is, after all, like taking care of a beloved parent !
I realize that this home, like some others in Allahabad that still remain, is actually part of the collective heritage of India! Wish it would be declared as such !

Thank you so much Munmun ji and Bhai sahab for sharing !

Do let me know what YOU think.
Hope you have a wonderful week ahead !

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About Adity

Hello ! You are either already a friend or will become one--through this medium! I am an artist and jewellery maker, a wife and mother to two lovely children. Beautiful homes, food, nature and wonderful things happening around me make me ecstatic. That is why I started to write this blog-- to share with you all of these things. After all what good is any experience if not shared !
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37 Responses to A gracious, old home in Allahabad, India

  1. chetna says:

    I loved going through this one. Brought back memories of, what seems like, almost another life when we were growing up in small towns. It is a labour of love to take care of such a large and high maintenance property, but so well worth it.
    Looking forward to your next one, Adity.

  2. Uttora Ratna says:

    A lovely heritage home,full of history and a deep sense of pride in it. What a wonderful afternoon! Adity’s amazing perception of grace and beauty never fails to amaze me.

  3. Promilla says:

    Adity, loved the way, you gave us a tour and the beautifully expressed in words. And I loved the beautifuil home of your sister and the family. I am fine and we are having a Indian Pakistani food day on the 10th September in the women’s club. You will be missed. Take care Adity. Keep writing….Lots of love, Promilla

  4. Simi Gupta says:

    Amazing! You are fortunate to be able to visit such treasures! Thanks for sharing!

  5. Monobina says:

    Loved reading your article. Enjoyed the pics.and the decor of the Tandons are superb. Beauty and dignity and the respect to the forefathers by taking good care of the old house is so impressive. I always loved this type of heritage house in India. Thanks for sharing this with us through this article.

  6. Ashok Attri says:

    Adity, your evocative words & expressive pictures bring out the magic of old world charm of this beautiful home which has been so lovingly preserved by your gracious hosts. They deserve a bow as it is not easy to do so these days. Generations of occupants also evidently had very refined aesthetic sense & good taste. Thanks for sharing this gem.

  7. Grace Cooke says:

    Adity, your friends have great taste. What a lovely home! Thanks for sharing this with us. Grace

  8. Anamika Bharti says:

    What a wonderful post as always!! Can’t believe of all this in Allahabad….Adity loved the tour with your eyes and your sense of aesthetics…..i often go to Allahabad, it used to be home…..kudos to your hosts, do convey my appreciation to them..

    • Which years were you in Alld ? Yes, Alld used to be full of beautiful bungalows–we knew most of them. They are being sold off by the owners and then demolished by their buyers with rapidity-as many of us watch helplessly.Will be writing on a few more.

  9. Poonam Malhotra says:

    This is like a dream house that I always desired for,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,a dream……………but a reality for people who are so passionate to keep the old heritage alive.

  10. sriban says:

    Thank you. This took me back to my years in Allahabad. Your blog and photographs hark back to those wonderful years of grace and charm that are fast fading from the life in India replacing with tasteless display of wealth. I spent many a summer in the 50s at my uncle’s place in Lowther Road which ahd a similar history and ambience. Recently I came across a similarly well kept home in Calcutta (or shall I say Kolata!).

    • Thanks for visiting my blog. Is your uncle’s home still there- what is his name, if I may ask? I am sure there are some such well preserved homes in Calcutta and even Banaras.

      • sriban says:

        I don’t know what state my uncle’s home in Allahabad is as most of my cousins have moved out. I will check and let you know. Drop me an email “anil.srivastava@sriban.com” and I will send you the address and contact.

  11. shikha chaki says:

    Such a beautiful write-up ! Seeing this wonderful house and the gracious owners through your artistic eyes was a treat as usual.Why don’t you contact `Inside Outside’ or some similar interior magazine to do a series on old bungalows which are scattered all over India ?

  12. Grace says:

    How lovely! Wonderful post.

  13. Antara says:

    Hi Adity,
    I came upon your blog through Mrs Chaki.I belong to Allahabad.I love my city and yes, there were a lot of these bungalows sprawled across Allahabad which have now been sold off either for lack of being able to maintaain them or due to apartment culture taking over.The Tandons house is a delight .I myself married into one such old bungalow in Thornhill Road but a few years into my marriage the house had to be sold off as the owners were scattered all over the world and each wanted their share.I own a small apartment in Lukerganj which had sprawling bungalows and is bengali dominated.Durga poojo in Allahabad is still celebrated with more enthusiasm in these “paras” than Kolkata.I am your newest follower and a mommy blogger myself.

    • Hi Antara,Thank you so much for visiting my blog. My parents’home is in Lukergunj-I grew up there-is that not a coincidence! You can read a bit about my mother(and the house in Lukergunj)in ‘Purnima-full moon’in the ‘Travel’section of my blog.Great to know you are a blogger-will visit your site.

  14. Himendra Nath Varma says:

    Another marvelous piece of work from Adity. Munmun and Ladlie are dear old friends, ( ladlie’s grandfather and my grandfather were great friends ) .They are a charming couple who take great pains to maintain an old world charm about their life style. In the process they do a great service to the city of Allahabad,which , sadly, has only its past glory to offer. Ther are a few more of the old bungalows which need to be documented before they disappear like 9, Elgin Road !!

  15. jayanta says:

    Ladlie Tandon used to study at St. Joseph’s with my younger brother I think. His father I remember moved in from their home in the ‘City’ to the Civil Lines bungalow on Edmonstone Road where we also lived. He used to drive a black sedan with a felt hat and a cigar in his mouth! completing the picture. Takes me down memory lane. Thanks.

  16. Shereen says:

    My grandfather used to live in old Allahabad maybe in the 1920s. I am looking to check if someone would know of a ‘regal art studio” in Allahabad in those days. It is a long shot.

    • Adity says:

      Hi Shereen–how nice to know about your grandfather. There is a page on facebook where a lot of Allahabad people communicate. You should definitely post your question there.I am sure someone will know about Regal art studios.It must have been a photography shop…Here is the link-https://www.facebook.com/groups/allahabadcivillines/

  17. Vernon Gosse says:

    Hi Adity, I was a resident of Allahabad and lived on Elgin Road , opposite the GHS,Ladlie was senior to me in SJC but his younger brother Ajit was in class with me. I used to pass this daily on our way to school but never imagined that it was so beautiful inside.Would definitely visit this house when I am next in Allahabad.

  18. Alastair McClure says:

    Dear Adity, it’s a wonderful blog you are doing. I also have an interest in history and these things. I’m currently doing a PhD in history from Cambridge. I would love to be able to ask your help, would it be possible to perhaps call you or send you an email, I’m currently in Allahabad!

    • Adity says:

      Hi Alastair ! Terribly sorry to reply this late–I had gone into hibernation and had not checked my blog site until today when I published a new post. Have you already left ? Please do write me a mail at adity_61@hotmail.com Happy to be of any help .

  19. sriban says:

    Your idea of national heritage and preservation policy for old dwellings—not just the historical sites—would help tease out the culture and grace from the past. The mindless adaption of what we consider modern has created eyesores all cross India. It is not the chawls of Dharavi—created by abject poverty and necessity to survive—but the opulent tasteless habitat of the new India that bothers me. Coming to America, it amazes me that with so little history to preserve, how often one comes across the love and care bestowed on preserving history. India has a long history but we trample upon it.

    Last week, I was in New York, at the showing of restored/reconstructed version of Satyajit Ray’s Pather Panchali. The original negative were destroyed in a fire in England. The Criterion team searched for the material all over the world and put them piece-by-piece together to restore the film. Sitting in the audience in MoMA, it brought tears to my eyes, not because the pathos but that it was almost as good as the original I screened in 1961 in Bhopal.

    I hope that your blog will bring together people who could (a) persuade the government to create and/or enforce appropriate laws; but more importantly (b) cause many private foundations to support preservation of living habitat. One way that could be funded is to include preservation of living habitat in CSR activities as specified in Schedule VII of the Companies Act, 2013.

    Keep up the good work. I get vicarious pleasure reading your blogs.

    • Adity says:

      Hi Anil, thank you so much for reading. The slums are a different thing but it is, as you say, the vulgarity and tastelessness that bothers me.And with it comes insensitivity and supreme confidence that what they have or are doing is the right thing ! I wonder where you are based and what sort of work you are associated with. You have ideas about how one can go forward. Not that many people read my posts but I hope there might be some that might come forward to help should there be a movement. What exactly are CSR activities?

      • sriban says:

        Adity, you surprised me with a very prompt response. A comprehensive description on Corporate Social Responsibility in India is the Wikipedia page (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolution_of_corporate_social_responsibility_in_India).

        I am based in United States near Washington, DC. and work with a non-profit. I will be happy to work with you on—as you say—working towards a ‘movement’ to restoration and preservation. A good starting point could be your putting together a book from your blogs.

        Incidentally, many years back, I had worked on a film presentation for habitat conference on energy conservation in traditional Indian cities. It was a good learning experience about how the traditional dwelling managed to keep the occupants cool in scorching heat of Gujarat and Rajasthan.

  20. Vijay says:

    Very Well written, enjoyable and informative article.

  21. Dr Papia Dasgupta says:

    Feeling nostalgic. Iam also from Allahabad,Lukergunge. Now am in Bhopal .I am also brought up in such an old house. So thanks again for such a lovely post.

  22. Ruth shepherd says:

    Beautiful photographs and an excellent write up Adity. How are you and Mr. Chakrabarty? Are you both back from the south? Do visit the shop whenever you get time. Ruth

    • Adity says:

      Thanks so much,Ruth. I keep thinking I should visit but I get a bit lazy. I pass by once in a while and think of Mr.Advani. Talk to you,soon.Thank you for sharing this article,Ruth–a few more people will read and come to know about what still exists..

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