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Here, it's Baisakhi any time of the year

A DRIVE on Kanakapura Road, beyond Khoday's to the ninth milestone, takes you to a large hoarding on the left, which reads: Holiday Village. You have reached Vajrahalli, 6 km. from JP Nagar (25 km. from GPO). A kilometre into the interior, guided by arrows, takes you to the portals of a very nice resort. As soon as you drive in, the refreshing greenery all around you is dotted with lily pools with fish, landscaped areas with fountains, swimming pool, toddlers' pool, cottages, children's playground, and tennis courts.

There is piped music in every corner of the vast acreage, and all this only transports you to a holiday atmosphere where the urban sprawl indeed seems remote. Exploring the acres of space, thick with foliage and birdsong, you learn that there are 10 poolside cottages (Rs. 900 per day), deluxe and double bedded with cable TV et al.

There is also a conference hall, a discotheque with appropriate sound and light effects and an in-house DJ, a bar, and a billiards room and table tennis.

Any diner can treat himself to a good meal at Holiday Village's restaurant, Baisakhi, for just Rs. 125.

The restaurant, named after Punjab's most famed festival, serves Punjabi food. But, the proprietor, Ajit Bindra says that it also serves curd rice and appams. These two South Indian specialties, he points out, are a gesture to the Southern palate.

The authentic Punjabi fare includes makke di roti, sarson da saag, lassi, makhani chooze (butter chicken), maa di daal, rabdi, malpuda, and so on. Baisakhi is unique in that it provides delicious fare with club like facilities for a reasonable price.

A customer can splash around in its pool for Rs. 40 (adults) and Rs. 25 (children).

In the vast, verdant grounds, children can be seen running around, working off their excess energy. What is really special, cost-wise and value-wise, is its buffet lunch that is open on Sundays and on general holidays. For Rs. 125 plus taxes (vegetarian), and Rs. 150 plus taxes (non-vegetarian), one can partake of a sumptuous spread that includes chaats, palak paneer, chana bhatura, daal makhani, kadi-pakodi, peas pullao, chicken pyaazwala, and vegetable stew. Tava vegetables, is a huge tava on which 12 to 15 varieties of semi-cooked vegetables are arranged. And the chef prepares the items of the customer's choice right in front of him his/her preferred veggies. If you do not like carrots or bhindi, then there are potatoes, beans, karela (bittergourd), and baby corn to choose from.

The masalas and garnishes used to sauté the tava items make them absolutely scrumptious. Similar tava items are offered to non-vegetarians too.

This section features mutton kheema with minced meat and green peas.

The noodles counter is a hit, especially with children.

The chef makes noodles using either vegetables or chicken, Szechwan style or crisp, and your portion is prepared and placed steaming hot on your plate in a jiffy.

The buffet menu also includes a welcome drink, soup, three non-vegetarian items, eight vegetarian dishes, assorted salads, chaats, chana bhatura, and two desserts.

Breakfast is served between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m., and lunch between 1p.m. and 4 p.m.. But, Mr. Bindra says he cannot say no to anyone when they have come that far out from the City. Thus, any visitor is served with food any time of the day.

Apart from the restaurant, Baisakhi also has the capacity to seat 100 people under a roof by the buffet area, and another 100 in the poolside and lawn areas. Candlelight poolside meals are popular here.

With such capacity, there is no need to make advance reservation. Holiday Village can be contacted on 8435384/ 98450-48888.

ARUN BHATIA

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