A lifestyle villa located in an old Mangalorean tiled home {Ira Spa}

ira spa mangalore home of mr. jayaraj shetty
The absolutely charming view of
the house from the entrance.

On my morning walk in a quiet, nondescript bylane in Cascia, Mangalore, I spotted a lovely yellow house in the old Colonial style, with pillars, tiled roofs, et al. The signboard said Ira Spa. I was intrigued, and when I asked around, was surprised to learn that it’s been here for a while. In Mangalore, it’s not the six degrees of separation between strangers, but usually only half or one degree! Sure enough I soon figured out who owned the spa, that one of the owners was in college with me, and the other had once attended the same Zumba class with me! 🙂

I connected with Shefali Ballal, one of the owners, and she graciously asked me over…and I was delighted with her efforts in preserving the house. It always makes me really proud when I see old properties preserved, and used for something creative. <Rant> Too many of them are being torn down to make way for high-rises.</Rant>

Here are a few pics of the house, and I hope you enjoy them!

home of jayaraj shetty mangalore
The elongated front verandah that is typical to Mangalorean homes built in
the early 1900s. Shefali cleverly added the wooden backrests, and I loved them!

home of jayaraj shetty mangalore
Stop a moment and enjoy the beauty of these gorgeous old style. The urli and
it’s charming stone holder are apt touches to the entrance to the spa.

home of jayaraj shetty mangalore
This picture shows the left wing of the house. The garage beyond the tulsi
has been converted into a quaint little cafe.

home of jayaraj shetty mangalore
This is the right wing of the house, with most of the traditional elements still in place.

home of jayaraj shetty mangalore
The classic round pillar that is common in old Mangalorean homes.
Notice the intricate carving at the top.

home of jayaraj shetty mangalore
The old front door, so beautifully carved, and the ventilation
openings on the top. Shefali has adorned the entrance area
with charming old yellow lamps.

home of jayaraj shetty mangalore
Antique wooden ledge and a section of the old 12-inch wall
characteristic of old Mangalorean homes

home of jayaraj shetty mangalore
The roof is built with wooden reapers and laid out with old Mangalore tiles.

home of jayaraj shetty mangalore
The reception area which was traditionally the old living room
of this house, is attractively done up with both modern and
antique elements, as you can see in the pics that follow.

home of jayaraj shetty mangalore
Most of the decor pieces in the reception area of the spa have been picked up by the spa owners from stores like Fab India and antique shops in Bangalore.

home of jayaraj shetty mangalore
An antique settee is the focal point in the reception area,
upholstered in the spa’s theme color yellow. You can catch a
glimpse of one of the facial rooms, with a lovely
stained glass window and an antique chair.

A bit of history about this house. We do not have a clear date on when it was built. The owner Mr. Jayaraj Shetty, who leased it to the owners of the spa, says that his dad bought it in 1950. It was previously owned by a Billava family, and he believes that it originally belonged to a Catholic family who might have built it sometime between 1900 and 1910.

Inevitably the salon section sports a modern look, but Shefali has taken care to add some wooden elements and you know what, it looks good!

home of jayaraj shetty mangalore

home of jayaraj shetty mangalore

home of jayaraj shetty mangalore
A staircase built in the old style leads up to  the pedicure room in the attic.

home of jayaraj shetty mangalore
Here’s a view of the roof as I go up the stairway.

home of jayaraj shetty mangalore
I love the way the old and new have blended together in this room. For old elements,
don’t miss the imposing old tiled roof, dark wood furniture and
the stone basins for the pedicures.

Back at the verandah, I clicked a close-up of the back rests that Shefali has adorned with old tiles.

home of jayaraj shetty mangalore

And more shots of the exterior, which I absolutely loved!

Adjacent to the spa, in what must have been a garage or the outhouse, is a small eatery called Smoke n Oven that makes the most amazing pizzas baked in an old fashioned oven, and served on clay platters! The decor at the Smoke n Oven is an extension of that at the spa. Other decor elements in this quaint pizza joint were the threaded design on the ceiling and the home-made, one of its kind sign board!

Bamboo blinds give an element of privacy to the diners, but also let the cool summer breeze in.

And what do you make of this rustic bell-holder? I thought it was delightfully charming!

And, just before I hopped into my gaadi, this is the final shot of the house I got, with the lovely blue sky and coconut trees in the background.

Check out Ira Life and Smoke n Oven on Facebook. You can also see the fascinating pics of Smoke n Oven’s oven being constructed and clay plates and tumblers being baked.

Do you know someone who lives in an old Mangalorean house? Do put us in touch with them!
I am deeply passionate about the colonial homes that Mangalore has, and as deeply saddened when I hear of one being torn down to make way for a high-rise building. Please contact me if you live in an old Mangalorean house!
If you would like to comment on this post, either click here to comment directly on The Keybunch blog, or comment on my FB post below. Thank you very much!


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  1. How fantabulous!! Truly admire the owners's zeal and passion to preserve the old home. And glad that they have retained the old world charm and merged it to the modern world. Love the yellow walls…yellow being positive, sunny and cleansing. That stone below the Urli is i think the stone above which the Lingam is kept…Once can even see the slit…where the washed waters flow out
    Excellent! thanks for sharing…

  2. Beautiful! It's great how we have such amazing spaces around us, we just need an eye to look for them! Thanks for sharing!!

  3. Lovely! Catching up on some of your posts Sharon. I am originally from Mangalore- so seeing an authentic mangalorean home was a treat. She has indeed done a great job of retaining the classic elements while adding the necessary modern touch.

    Thanks for bringing this to us.