India's premier luxury lifestyle women's magazine
Travel
November 25, 2010

The Elite Address

Watercolours by Bappa

Quiet, clean environs and tree-lined avenues…old-world bungalows and landscaped condos…swanky wheels and round-the-clock security…. Verve stops by at the luxe locales of Mumbai, New Delhi, Chennai and Kolkata

  • Mumbai
    Mumbai
  • New Delhi
    New Delhi
  • Kolkata
    Kolkata

Mumbai
The pecking order

Old money, sky-rise penthouses, the crème de la crème of Mumbai’s business society, South Mumbai has it all….

Despite the scoffing at the incessant comparisons between the pulse of South Mumbai and Manhattan, there is something that runs as a common thread: a social hierarchy. SoBo (acronym for South Mumbai – are you snickering?) packs the crème de la crème of Mumbai’s business society (the filmi kind are found largely in the suburban elite areas). Wrapped around the country’s financial district, it is all about old money – and while SoBo represents old wealth in its bungalows, sky-rise penthouses and grossly overpriced sardine-can apartments, there is a very specific pecking order which is linked to the part of ‘town’ that you live in.

Malabar Hill is the premium territory, where flats can go for over a lakh per square foot. The original area of moneyed settlers, where the prongs spread to the classy sea-hugging stretch of Nepean Sea Road, on one foothill of the Hill, filled with a mix of wealthy Gujaratis, Marwaris and a smattering of an eclectic crowd, peppered with prestigious government bungalows (think helipads). On the other side facing the Queen’s Necklace, Walkeshwar is predominated by older settlements of traditional Gujarati business families, where the Walkeshwar Temple and Banganga Tank date to the 10th and 12th century respectively and the older dilapidated buildings are rapidly being replaced by spanking new ones. This is the area of pure vegetarian food, Italian marble in homes, diamonds on the neck, and an uneasy transition to a cosmopolitan outlook on life.

In sharp contrast are Cuffe Parade and Nariman Point, reclaimed and developed in the ‘60s. Consisting of a hugely cosmopolitan lot, there is a racy headiness associated with what is known as the ‘Cuffe crowd’. There is a mix of old and new money in this area. The youth of the Hill and Cuffe do not mix until they reach the dating stage – when it’s a grudging marriage of two important areas of geography, except among the more conservative families who can’t quite digest the categorical transition away from home ground.

Altamount Road and Carmichael Road form the other major Hill area, dominated by a quieter moneyed crowd, the sprawling bungalows and buildings interspersed with consular settlements. Possibly the only thing bringing down its stock is the lack of SoBo’s trump card – a sea view. Walking up and down this tree-lined avenue is all about getting noticed – whether you’re in a Lamborghini or outside one. Incidentally, this is where the older Ambani brother has chosen to build his towering monument of success.

While the by-lanes of Breach Candy and Pedder Road house many affluent families, you would find their own little nesting areas of the youth – like Scandal Point of yore or the Sophia College Lane. Breach Candy forms an extension of Nepean Sea Road, hugging the same stretch of sea.

Worli Sea Face doesn’t quite make it to the cream of SoBo residential areas, despite rapidly being replaced as the area of new money by the rather nouveau riche Lower Parel. Its microcosmic world of the sea face walk and spacious houses boasts a mixed crowd that is probably losing grace due to its proximity to the suburbs.

Marine Drive – facing the famed Queen’s Necklace – is all about a time of art deco and a sense of nostalgia. With airy flats lined in a grid leading off the main sea-way, Marine Drive still continues to host a majority of its original settlers. Their claim to fame is the walk/jogging community on the Drive, crowded and in view of the entire office-going traffic.

Famous Residents
Avanti and Yash Birla
Shobhaa and Dilip De
Neerja and
Kumarmangalam Birla
Pooja and Milind Deora
Lata Mangeshkar
Kavita and Vinod Khanna

 – Sitanshi Talati-Parikh

New Delhi
Billionaires’ boulevard

The maple tree-lined Amrita Shergill Marg in New Delhi is as exclusive and elusive as the  painter it is named after….

Spacious clean roads, sprawling bungalows with lush gardens and high walls, posh swanky cars around the neighbourhood, well-maintained green parks lined by maple trees and VVIP security, 24 hours. Add to that the recent sale of a one- acre plot for Rs 137 crores. Welcome to the affluent one-km-long Amrita Shergill Marg in New Delhi. Nestled in the South Delhi area known as Lutyen’s New Delhi, it is a befitting ode to the most expensive Indian woman painter of the 20th century.

Designed by British Architect Lutyen, the region comprises areas like Prithviraj Road, Aurangzeb Road and Golf Links in the neighbourhood. All these are well known as the dens of the most elite bureaucrats, politicians, industrialists and business colossal.

Being a non-commercial zone has helped kept the area unadulterated from development of any commercial activities, thus  preserving the quaint charms of yesteryear. No malls, multiplexes or mediocre stores in the entire locality. Strict construction laws ensure that there can be no unauthorised constructions in the area. Experts agree that the very fact that the area has restrictions is what makes it so luxe. The neighbouring Khan Market and Lodhi Gardens are the main shopping hubs for the rich and famous residing here.

Power cuts, a routine part of Indian life, are something the high-flying residents of this swanky area never face. None of the houses here have a generator which in itself is a major feat for a city with a scorching summer and limited power supply.

Thanks to the popularity of its celebrated and super successful residents, this area is a much sought-after real estate site. Sunil Mittal bought a bungalow here for Rs 40 crores a few years back and according to market sources the price of the property is now up at Rs 100 crores. But what got this area into the limelight recently was the sale of just an acre of plot to Delhi based businessman Sanjay Singhal, Chairman of Bhushan Steels, for almost Rs 137 crores, giving stiff competition to even the jetsetters of the financial capital city of Mumbai giving it a run for its money, literally.

Famous Residents
Sunil Mittal
Sanjay Singhal
Ashish Dhawan
Naresh Gujral
B K Modi
Saurabh Dhoot

 – Malvika Sah

Chennai
By Invitation Only!

The Boat Club Road in Chennai is the most coveted residential address in the city…

They say no one sells their property on Boat Club Road. Because its residents don’t ever need the money or want to move out of the locality. The upscale Boat Club Road is a calm area situated away from the hustle and bustle of the city and the houses here come with an exclusive ‘opulence’ tag. Living here means that you come from a renowned family of either a leading industrialist, social celebrity or a famous entrepreneur.

Known for:
Its large, independent, well-done houses of which, no two are the same. There’s a confluence of many architectural styles here, depending on when some of these houses were built or rebuilt. Some buildings have been completely renovated to provide all modern facilities without compromising on the heritage of the architecture. It’s a strictly no-tall-buildings zone that entertains no commercial activity in the area. The Boat Club Road has two renowned clubs including the illustrious and the-extremely-difficult-to-get-membership-of Madras Club. Built in 1832, this club still has that rich, colonial feel, is truly very old fashioned, and has plenty of rules, but ask any member and they’ll say it’s completely worth it. The other club is the Boat Club that has a private access to the Adyar River and is famous for hosting annual regattas.

What you find:
There’s just one shop in the area, just one, which also, by the way is not on the Boat Club Road (no commercial activity here, remember), it’s in the neighbourhood and it caters to all the needs of the Boat Club Road residents including luxury goods and imported food, of course!

And if you ever spot the residents outside their home or cars (very, very rarely), they’ll be in their branded best — designer clothes, bags, accessories, et al. Sometimes, you may find a few enthusiasts walking or jogging on the sideway but otherwise, it’s pretty quiet. And, with all the greenery around, it surely makes for a healthy stroll.

Superior roads make an obvious reason for the best cars to been driven down the roads here…from Beemers to Lamborghinis to Rolls Royce, the residents clearly know no other way!

A few good patisseries are available around the Boat Club Road. If you are the adventurous sort, go rowing on the Adyar River through the Madras Boat Club or take a few lessons else, a nice meal at the river-view restaurant at the club won’t be a bad idea either. The Park, Park Sheraton and Towers and The Rain Tree are in close vicinity of the Boat Club Road and they have the best rooftop restaurants and lounge bars in town.

Famous Residents
Venu Srinivasan
M M Murugappan
Kalanithi Maran
Bharat Goyal
Shyam Kothari
Vinoo Mammen

 – Nasrin Modak

Kolkata
In The Glory of the Raj

With ancient memories and ancestral homes, Alipore remains the privileged abode of the quintessential babus

In a city which lives by its memories of the glory days of the British Raj, Kolkata is an overwhelming remnant of the past. To time travel to the first capital of the British, one needs to visit Alipore. Where fences are taller than the buildings and where people still play croquet in their backyards, this is a neighbourhood out of a Jane Austen novel. Burddhawan Road and Judges Court Road are areas of great awe. Maybe the real estate prices couldn’t compare with other metros but they are still about the regal grandeur that has been the soul of this city for years.

Despite housing some of the biggest industrial names of the country like the Birlas and the Goenkas who now reside in the British bungalows of yore, this is the abode of the babus. They may have abandoned their dhotis and Austin cars, but the modern day BMWs easily find their way to the glittering lights of the Tollygunge Club and the Calcutta Club every other evening.

For early mornings, as the sun rises behind the ancient Victoria Memorial, Alipore wakes up softly. Morning walks in the sprawling National Library grounds or the Agri Horticultural Garden on Belvedre Road, tea by the road and then off to a high-profile corporate job in the city’s commercial area Park Street. There is a sharp shift of scenery as one drives down to the area. Right off the AJC Bose Fly Over, the air becomes heavier, laden with memories. Past the ancient Victoria Memorial, Fort William and the race course starts the wide lanes of Alipore. There aren’t many shops here, just enough to keep the groceries supplied. After all, this is a city where life is divided into two halves, one to stretch and live in and the other to work and party in. Alipore is the former; because to live in peace is the biggest luxury of all.

Ancestral Homes Of
The Late Ramnath Goenka
Lakshmi Mittal
Kumarmangalam Birla
Lord Swaraj Paul
Lakshmipat Singhania
H M Bangur

 – Sohini Datta

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