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The Taj Mahal Palace Hotel
Taj Mahal Palace Hotel
|Location:||Mumbai, Maharashtra, India|
|Opening date:||December 16, 1903|
|Architect:||Siddhesh S., Sitaram Khanderao Vaidya and D. N. Mirza|
The Taj Mahal Palace Hotel is a five star hotel located in the Colaba region of Mumbai, Maharashtra, India, next to the Gateway of India. Part of the Taj Hotels, Resorts and Palaces, this building is considered the flagship property of the group and contains 565 rooms. From a historical and architectural point of view, the two buildings that make up the hotel, The Taj Mahal Palace and the Tower are two distinct buildings, built at different times and in different architectural designs.
The hotel has hosted notable guests such as The Beatles, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Bill Clinton, Jacques Chirac, The King & Queen of Norway, The Duke & Duchess of Kent, The Duke of Edinburgh, The Prince of Wales, Roger Moore, Joan Collins, Mick Jagger, Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, Deep Purple, Michael Palin, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, and Oprah Winfrey, as well as professional cricket teams on tour.
History[edit source | edit]
It is widely believed that Jamsedji Tata decided to build the hotel after he was refused entry to one of the city’s grand hotels of the time, Watson’s Hotel, as it was restricted to “whites only”. However, this story has been challenged by some commentators that suggest that Tata was unlikely to have been concerned with ‘revenge’ against his British adversaries. Instead they suggest that the Taj was built at the urging of editor of The Times of India who felt a hotel “worthy of Bombay” was needed.
The original Indian architects were Sitaram Khanderao Vaidya and D. N. Mirza, and the project was completed by an English engineer, W. A. Chambers. The builder was Khansaheb Sorabji Ruttonji Contractor who also designed and built its famous central floating staircase. The cost of construction was £250,000 (£127 million today). During World War I, the hotel was converted into a 600-bed hospital. The dome of the hotel is made from steel as used in the Eiffel Tower. Jamsedji Tata imported the same steel during that time. The hotel was the first in India to install and operate a steam elevator. The hotel imported American fans, German elevators, Turkish baths and English butlers, for the first time in India.
The side of the hotel seen from the harbour is actually its rear. The front faces away to the west. There is a widespread misconception that the architects’ building plans were confused by the builder so that he built it facing away from the harbor. This is not true, as the hotel was deliberately built facing inland, possibly because the horse carriages in which guests came to the hotel could more easily approach the hotel from the city. The carriages were then taken to Wellington Mews. 40 years ago, the old front was closed off, and since then, access has been made through the harbor-side entrance. Wellington Mews has now been converted into luxury service apartments operated and owned by the Taj group.
On the site where the tower wing now stands used to be a hotel called Green’s Hotel at the Apollo Bunder, which was purchased by the Taj Mahal Hotel. Green’s was popular among sailors due to its low cost and was notorious for its wild parties. In 1973, Green’s hotel was demolished and the present Tower wing was constructed in its place.
Mr. Jamshyd D. F. Lam (Retd. Sr. Vice President IHCL) of the Taj Group was the General Manager from 1980 to 1985, during which time the Taj Mahal Palace & Tower was ranked as the fifth best hotel in the world for two consecutive years. The hotel was ranked 20th in Asia in the prestigious Conde Nast Traveller Readers’ Travel Awards of 2010.
Dining[edit source | edit]
- Zodiac Grill
- Chef’s Studi4
- golden bench
- Golden Dragon
- Wasabi by Morimoto
- Le Patisserie
- Harbour Bar
- Starboard Bar
- Masala Kraft
- Sea Lounge
- Continental and Italian cuisines
2008 terrorist attack[edit source | edit]
On 26 November 2008, in a series of terrorist attacks in Mumbai, the hotel (as well as the Oberoi) was attacked, during which material damage occurred, including the destruction of the hotel’s roof in the hours following. Hostages were taken during the attacks, and at least 167 people were killed, including many foreigners. The casualties were mostly Indian citizens, although westerners carrying foreign passports were singled out. Indian commandos killed the gunmen barricaded in the hotel to end the three-day battle. At least 31 died at the Taj. Approximately 450 people were staying in the Taj Mahal Palace and Hotel at the time of the seizure, and another 380 in the Oberoi.
Soon after (30 November), Taj Mahal Hotel chairman Ratan Tata said in an interview with CNN‘s Fareed Zakaria that they had received advance warning of the attacks, and that some countermeasures had been taken. These may have been relaxed before the attack, but in any case were easily sidestepped by the terrorist operatives. After the attacks, the hotel management announced that the hotel would be rebuilt; it took around 12 months and 500 crore (US$80 million) to repair it.
The less damaged sections of the Taj Mahal Palace & Tower hotel reopened on 21 December 2008. It took several months to rebuild the popular heritage section of the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel.
Hillary Clinton visited Mumbai in July 2009, aiming to deepen Indo-American ties, and stayed at the Taj hotel; she also attended a commemoration event. “I wanted to send a message that I personally and our country is in sympathy and solidarity with the employees and the guests of the Taj who lost their lives … with the people of Mumbai,” Clinton said in an interview with India’s Times Now.
On 15 August 2010, India’s Independence Day, the Taj Mahal Palace was reopened after restoration. The cost of the restoration of the hotel so far has been 1.75 billion Rupees (estimated $40 Million USD). The palace wing has been restored and offers new hotel services.
On November 6, U.S. President Barack Obama became the first foreign head of state to stay at the Taj Mahal Palace after the attacks. In a speech from the terrace of the hotel, Obama said, “the Taj has been the symbol of the strength and the resilience of the Indian people.”
Literature[edit source | edit]
- William Warren, Jill Gocher (2007). Asia’s legendary hotels: the romance of travel. Singapore: Periplus Editions. ISBN 978-0-7946-0174-4.
- It has also been mentioned in the short story “Sahab Bahadur” by Indian writer Sultan Rashed Mirza, Farhat Ullah Baaaig, and in the novel Delinquent Chacha by Ved Mehta.
- It was portrayed as a dream destination for a schoolboy to visit in the Marathi movie Taryanche bet.
Hotel Grand Palace is the other name for Hotel Taj Mahal. This name has been used by people as a translation of the Hindi version of Taj Mahal, especially by authors. Authors like Jeffrey Archer have used this term in their novels.
References[edit source | edit]
- Allen, Charles (3 December 2008). “The Taj Mahal hotel will, as before, survive the threat of destruction”. The Guardian (London). Retrieved 24 May 2010.
- Gray, Sadie (27 November 2008). “Terrorists target haunts of wealthy and foreign”. The Guardian (London). Retrieved 24 May 2010.
- “Taj” Vol. 32, No. 3, 3rd Quarter 2003. Edited by Fatma R. Zakaria. email@example.com
- Ramesh, Randeep (27 November 2008). “Dozens still held hostage in Mumbai after a night of terror attacks”. London: The Guardian. Retrieved 28 November 2008.
- “Timeline: Mumbai under attack”. BBC News. 1 December 2008. Retrieved 3 December 2008.
- Zakaria, Fareed (November 30, 2008). “Taj Mahal Hotel chairman: We had warning”. CNN.
- Pasricha, Anjana (2009-12-21). “Mumbai’s Attacked Hotels Reopen”. Voice Of America. Retrieved 2008-12-22.
- Mohammed, Arshad (18 July 2009). “Clinton meets Mumbai victims, serenaded by artisans”. Reuters (Mumbai).
- HNN Newswire
- “Obama visits site of Mumbai attacks, praises India’s resilience”. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 4 July 2011.
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