Far from the madding crowd
Not many of you have heard of Abbotsford probably. A quiet, quaint, British homestay right out of a
The heritage property, away from the buzz of the town, is looked after by Jahnavi Prasada, daughter of Jitendra Prasada (former vice president of the Indian National Congress) and sister of politician Jitin Prasada. Janhavi, whose ancestors were the zamindars of Oudh in Uttar Pradesh, nurtures her love for writing and poetry
A film maker, author of the graphic novel, Tales of Young Gandhi, Jahnavi has a deep passion for photography. With Abbotsford Prasada Bhavan, she has successfully entered the hospitality business by turning this family home into an exclusive countryside boutique property. It is here that she draws most of the inspiration reflected in her life and work.
It is here where her mother, Kanta Prasada, imbibed in her the taste for the vintage and mother nature. It is here that we met that charming woman, who wowed us with her timeless elegance and warm hospitality. While taking us around the nooks that regular travelers do not get to survey, aunty regaled us with vignettes from this building’s past. We just sat there and listened as the hours passed by under the azure canopy…
“Abbotsford has been my home since four generations. It is a 145-year-old English lodge that my
Kanta aunty, with a keen eye for restoration, worked on Abbotsford 18 years ago, giving the house a facelift on the lines of an old colonial cottage. Almost everything has been maintained to retain its original glory, be it the wooden roof with burma teak beams or the tinned roof and pinewood flooring that give the perfect feel of the classic mountain house. Adorning the halls are fascinating art deco pieces reflecting the exotic, sophisticated taste of its owners from different times. Antiquarian decoratives from different ages and various parts of the world adorn the house. There are exquisite Italian marble busts, garden statues, Afghani and Jali carpets, Wedgewood plate hangings, swords, muskets and elephant tusks.
The art of restoring a property as old as Abbotsford was a painstaking one, but the Prasadas took it in their stride. “The British structure was in solid stone and mortar and is still standing tall after all these
Now for some historical anecdotes. The property was called ‘Abbotsford Lodge’ and was owned by an English ICS officer, John Hope Simpson, posted in Nainital in 1876. The rent those days was Rs 1,000 per annum. Jahnavi’s great grandmother Purnima Jwala Prasada bought it from John Hope Simpson in 1903. “The estate is on seven acres of mountain land. It gets the first rays of the morning sun. We still have the property deeds dating back to 1903,” she says, adding, “We now have three luxury suites and four luxury rooms. By the end of the year we will have four more
It’s easy to travel back in time at Abbotsford. Lavish lunches and tea parties over cucumber sandwiches and tennis was the order of the day back then. That colonial aura hangs heavy on this pretty cottage. It’s a perfect haven for artistic, languid and languorous rejuvenation.