Friday, December 26, 2008

Tennis to Lounge bar, zoom to Palace Grounds

Tennis to Lounge bar, zoom to
Known to Bangaloreans as the venue of dog shows and political rallies, Prajwal Hegde discovers the ground is a one-stop mall for sports & entertainment with tennis academies, cricket clinic, horse riding school, amusement park, bowling alleys and a restaurant dotting its landscape

It’s Bangalore’s best kept secret. The sprawling 462-acre Palace Grounds is the city’s one-stop mall for sports and entertainment. You could ride a horse, drive a ball, swing a club, put away a volley, get on a play station, party in regal splendour or chill in a lounge bar. In short, a great bowl of action and adventure in the heart of town.
Better known for its Windsor-styled summer palace, this property of the erstwhile Mysore Maharajas has three tennis academies, a cricket clinic with 25 nets and a turf wicket, a driving range, a horse riding school, an amusement park, a bowling alley, a club and a lounge bar. Yet, at most times, all you can hear is the sound of silence.
“It is a prime location. It’s in the heart of the city, that’s why I wanted a branch of my academy there,” says tennis coach Peter Vijaykumar. “But with all the facilities and proximity, you don’t find great crowds there. It’s probably because not many people know about it,” he said.
For most Bangaloreans, Palace Grounds has been a venue for exhibitions, fairs, marriages, movie shootings, music shows, conferences, community gatherings and political rallies.
Evidently it’s more than that. The development programme for golf is especially interesting. It’s a basic course conducted on a driving range. The kit is provided. The course comes with a promise of an Indian Golf Union membership, a ticket that can get you access to most golf courses around in the country.
Despite only temporary structures allowed at the grounds, it also has a club — Palace Club, with a badminton court, a billiards room and an open-air restaurant.
Sheesh Mahal and Gayatri Niwas are very popular for posh weddings. Their USP being the ability to provide ample parking for a 1,000-strong crowd.
The popular Princess Horse Riding Academy with almost 300 trainees indulges the recreational rider, while also polishing skills of the competitionbound. For those who enjoy royalty, the exclusive party halls, once the dancing room and durbar hall of Maharani Vani Vilas, is a throwback in time to coattails and gowns, a time when gentlemen bowed and ladies blushed.
The riding school, party halls and Star City with its 12-lane bowling alley and 30 play stations are the more popular haunts.
The jewel of the mighty expanse, though, is Pebble — a lounge bar far removed from the slick and shine of the city. The setting is country and the ambience delightfully rustic. The outdoor section is often the venue for theme or promotional nights. Tuesdays are for movie screenings, Thursdays are for the ladies and Sunday brunch for the family, pets included!
“We have a lot of expats coming in,” says Dr Syed Harris, who manages the place for his father. “We have never advertised, it’s mainly word of mouth. I have a lot of stuff here that other places can’t give the people. The setting for one, it’s Goa right here in the heart of Bangalore.”

Bangalore Golf Academy
It’s a basic course conducted on a driving range Comes with the promise of an Indian Golf Union membership, a ticket to golf courses around the country Kit is provided


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