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The Bungalow 1934
 A Whiff of Yesteryear

LEGACY

The Bungalow was built in 1934 by my great grandfather Ketolira Diwan Bahadur Chengappa, the first Chief Commissioner of Coorg and the first District Magistrate of Independent India. Locals used to call it ‘the bungalow’ because its structure followed the architectural style of a typical British bungalow.
 

Ketolira Chengappa served as an Assistant Commissioner of Coorg in 1916, and was the first Indian to be appointed as District Magistrate in 1921 by the British. He was the Secretary, Coorg Legislative Council 1924 and Officiating Commissioner between 1929-34, when he built the bungalow. In 1940, he was appointed Provincial Organizer, National War Front. During WWII, his son Major KC ‘Babu’ Medappa was martyred on 16 Dec 1941 and is remembered with honor at the Singapore War Memorial. 

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In 1943, Diwan Bahadur Chengappa became the Chief Commissioner of Coorg and his home ‘the bungalow’ became the venue where he hosted lavish parties for state guests and British officials. Table settings were impeccable with sparkling silverware, gilded crockery and crisp linens laid out. It was a golden period highlighted by etiquette, elegance and propriety before the vagaries of time took a toll on The Bungalow.

In 1947 when India attained freedom, Ketolira Chengappa hoisted the Indian tricolour flag in Mercara Fort and brought down the Union Jack in a historic ceremony that marked the end of colonial rule in what was then regarded as Coorg Province. He was the last Chief Commissioner of Coorg and the only one of Indian origin, during British India.

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It was only as late as 1971, that my father, Diwan Bahadur Chengappa’s grandson, Ketolira Ganapathi, took over the reins of The Bungalow and managed the coffee plantation. Known to all as ‘Gappu’, a seasoned planter, he worked hard to ensure that our ancestral home did not lose its sheen. He collected and preserved antiques, collectibles, fine china, awards and significant personal belongings of my great grandfather, and kept the stories of his childhood alive, hoping that I’d do something about it. Sometime in 2010, I returned to Kodagu after my graduation and decided to chase my life’s three passions - rallying, interior design and revival of my great grandfather’s legacy. Our ancestral home had sheltered four generations of planters, entrepreneurs and academics; it was time to open its doors to guests. I began to envision it as a heritage homestay.

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RENOVATION

Finding Inspiration in Every Corner

The challenges ahead were immense as The Bungalow had aged down the decades. Restoration of an old bungalow is a herculean task but emboldened by the unwavering support of my father and the memories that abound this place, I began the project.   


The Bungalow itself follows the traditional architecture of old Kodagu homes, with an elevated open verandah that thrusts into the building with its pitched roof, and fans out into the living spaces, flanked by the bedrooms. Opened in 2013, The Bungalow 1934 ran as a heritage homestay for ten years. The first renovation of the bungalow took two years. The second and more recent renovation was radical and ambitious and took 15 months! It was heartwarming to watch my father Gappu inaugurate the revamped bungalow on his birthday November 8th 2023, in a surprise ceremony with traditional valaga music. Bold color choices, generous use of wood and stone, textured walls, a remarkable display of antiques and bric-a-brac, our love for detail and natural flair for interior design helped us blend classic tradition with eclectic charm and just the dash of glamour, vitality and quirkiness it deserves. Today, it’s a new building with an old soul.

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