Located in the serene suburbs of Tirupati in the foothills of the Saptagiri range, the Dasavatara Hotel designed by SJK Architects is one of the very few projects in the country that strikingly takes after the Hindu Temple design in organization and experience. The city, the abode of Lord Vishnu, and the wealthy Tirumala Temple Trust is hardly unknown to people, as the place is regarded auspicious for wedding rituals, celebrations, and the like.
Area: 115000 sq. ft.
Year of completion: 2015
Architects in charge: Shimul Javeri Kadri, Sarika Shetty, Michelle Pereira
Clients: Marasa Hospitality
City: Tirupati, India
The clients envisioned the project to be a boutique hotel – one that caters to business travelers who blend conferences with temple visits and spiritual retreats. Designing precisely the same, Architect Shimul Javeri Kadri and her team of designers have crafted this 121 key luxury getaway on a 13000 sq. m. plot, providing alongside banqueting facilities, spas, business centres, and two specialty restaurants which form the central feature.
For a place like Tirupati, the worship of Lord Vishnu becomes a central notion that governs the culture and heritage of the city. Which is why, the design draws its prime inspiration from the planning and spatial organization of the Tirumala Tirupati Temple, with multiple elements paralleling them and appropriated into a contemporary expression, fit for a hotel. Doing so, the designers have taken proper care of the experience rendered – of divinity and serenity imbibed into an intervention of hospitality.
The design is a rectilinear, orthogonal arrangement of spaces South to North in increasing levels of privacy and function, all organized around a central water body in a huge courtyard. Inside the waterbody floats a feature restaurant – The Lotus Café, with its roof form resembling a lotus, symbolizing a flower in a holy pond. The waterbody forms the core of the overall experience, lighting up in the evenings to offer a visual delight, reflecting simplicity and divinity in every facet of the design around it.
Following the orthogonality of temples, the design comprises a well-laid series of circulation pathways arranged around the central waterbody – the spaces accessed from them are ordered carefully following the level of privacy associated with their respective functions. The entrance courtyard in the southernmost edge leads to the banquet rooms to the right, accessed from a wide, double high vestibule.
To the southwest are the reception spaces and the business centre that could accommodate small conferences and meetings. The actual experience lies in traversing the double high paths adjacent to the waterbody – with a pool court to its left, the corridor offers a progression like no other.
Central to the waterbody is one of the specialty restaurants – The Lotus Café, whilst the other – The Thali Restaurant is recessed within the eastern wing, overlooking the water with a glass façade. The service areas are cleverly concealed from view, in the east; set within a continuous double high wall clad with teak sandstone, these spaces are only accessed from the service entryway. The northernmost wing is the guest block, housing guest rooms, and suites along with spaces for games and wellness.
The way the interiors are put together is a reflection of the interweave amongst the craft, mythology, and symbolism that the design expresses. India is a country that never falls short of the diversity of crafts, culture, and tradition in its states: Andhra Pradesh, where the project is located, is well known for its textile and metal crafts.
Following her own way of acknowledging the cultural contexts, Architect Shimul Javeri Kadri has brought in elements of art and craft that are embedded in the culture and tradition of the surrounding regions.
The wall artworks in some of the public spaces in the project use the Bidri form of silver with gunmetal, in a pattern that is locally popular. Kalamkari paintings and crafts from the nearby Srikalahasti are integrated into the interiors, while the traditional weaves of the area are designed into the furnishings.
The overall concept of the project is strongly influenced by the mythologies of the 10 incarnations of Lord Vishnu, hence the name Dasavatara hotel. Legend has it that whenever there occurred a decline of religion in an era, Lord Vishnu incarnated himself in order to restore balance to life on earth. It is also said that the 10 incarnations signified the evolution of life on the planet.
Applying the same to design, each public space has been characterized in a way that symbolizes the notions of one Avatar of Lord Vishnu – the Entrance courtyard symbolizes Kalki, the Banquet halls Rama and so on.
The interiors done with this symbolism behind were all replete with character, colour, and emotions associated with a particular Avatar. This is evident not just in the large partitions, deco, and furnishings, but also in the minutest of details.
Guest Rooms and Suites
The private spaces for guests are all confined to the northern block: with five stories of accommodation, there exists a good divide in the number of suites and ordinary guest rooms. The rooms are oriented along an East-West axis, accessed from centrally located corridors. Each room opens into a view of the mountain range to the north, or to the central water body.
The organization of each guest room, in turn, is minimal and sophisticated, all adorned with articles of local crafts and deco. The exterior of the guest block, in the southern façade, has been finished using an exterior grade black-gold paint with a specification that makes it breathable. The same has been used as a final finish on all structural steel columns around the waterbody.