It takes 10 minutes to reach Sassoon Road, an off-shoot of the central boulevard that meanders from the din of Mahabaleshwar’s main market. Trimmed on either side with dense foliage and rust-coloured brick walls, it is enveloped in silence and clear air. Somewhere along the road, our driver veers off-course to enter an iron gate leading to a grand path strewn with ochre-coloured leaves and a thicket on either side: an apt reminder of this complex’s colonial past— I can almost picture vintage cars, women dressed in their finery and men smoking cigars while discussing business, politics and the finer things in life on these very grounds. It’s the perfect introduction to Glenogle—a glorious, four-bedroom, cream-coloured bungalow that dates back to the mid-1800s.
Initially built by the British government for its war veterans, it was soon acquired by a prominent Jewish businessman, Sir Jacob Sassoon. Eventually, it was bought by the great-grandfather of its current owner, Neville Patel, who restored the property. The mansion is an amalgamation of the heritage of two of Mumbai’s most celebrated communities: the Jews and Parsis. It is decorated with objets d’art; portraits of members of the Sassoon family, pictures of Patel’s ancestors and luxurious 19th-century Parsi furniture.
I check in to the Jacob Sassoon room (the Sybil Sassoon room has an attached children’s room with two small single beds) and sink into an unbelievably comfortable four-poster bed. I can see an electric fireplace in front of me which I switch on to combat the nippy Mahabaleshwar air. A splendid vintage fan looms over me. The upholstery, in soft hues of blue, yellow and cream, complements the ivory walls. In true colonial fashion, the room has a changing-and-waiting area adjacent to the bathroom.
Simple, home-cooked Parsi, Gujarati and Indian meals are served at the 12-seater dining table. A special mention for Chandan, the general manager, who ably leads the courteous and ‘well-trained staff. The bungalow has a porch running through its front that’s sprinkled with lazy chairs for relaxation. For those seeking exploration, the estate is spread across seven acres and houses a honey-harvesting farm.