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Taj Mahal Palace and Tower
Taj Mahal Palace & Tower
Taj Mahal Palace & Tower
Hotel facts and statistics
Location Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
Opening date 16 December 1903
Architect Sitaram Khanderao Vaidya and D. N. Mirza
No. of rooms 565
Number of suites 46
No. of restaurants 11
No. of floors 22
A view of Taj Mahal Palace
A night view of Taj Mahal Palace

The Taj Mahal Palace & Tower is a prestigious luxury 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 iconic 105-year old heritage building retains its stature as the flagship property of the group and contains 565 rooms. From an historical and architectural point of view, The Taj Mahal Palace and the Tower are two distinct buildings, built at different times and in different architectural designs.

The hotel has hosted a long list of notable guests including 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, Deep Purple, Michael Palin, Hillary Clinton as well as professional cricket teams on tour. According to the BBC, after the Mumbai attacks of November 2008 by Pakistani terrorists, the hotel serves as a symbol of Mumbai's and India's resilience.

Contents

History

The Taj Mahal Palace hotel resort was commissioned in Indo-Saracenic style by Tata and first opened its doors to guests on 16 December 1903.

It is widely believed that Jamsedji Tata decided to build the luxurious 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.[1]

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).[2] During World War I, the hotel was converted into a 600-bed hospital. The dome of the hotel is made from the same 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 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. (Please note that the in-house video at the hotel specifically states that the hotel was in fact built the opposite way around - they must have some evidence if they are showing a video talking in detail about this). 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.

There used to be a Green's Hotel[3] at the Apollo Bunder, which was purchased by the Taj Mahal Hotel. It was at the Green's Hotel, that a small group of pro-Indian Goans (largely employees of the Indian state and communists) assembled and formed the Goan Liberation Council demanding that Portugal cede Goa to India, in the 1950s. This was done at the instigation of Jawaharlal Nehru, and funded by the Kamani Group of Companies. In 1973, Green's hotel was demolished and the present Tower wing was constructed in its place.

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2008 terrorist attack

A view of hotel, taken a week after the 2008 Mumbai attacks

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 roof of the hotel in the hours afterwards.[4] Hostages were taken during the attacks. At least 167 people were killed[5] in the attacks and 293 wounded[5] (the numbers include casualties at CST railway station, The Oberoi Hotel, Nariman House and the Cama Hospital), including many foreigners. The casualties were mostly Indian citizens, although westerners carrying foreign passports were singled out. Indian commandos killed the Pakistani gunmen barricaded in the hotel to end the three-day battle.

The attacks began 26 November 2008 and continued for a little over 60 hours. Approximately 450 people were staying in the Taj Mahal Palace and Hotel at the time of the seizure, and another 380 in the Oberoi.[6] The Hotel Management has announced that the hotel will be rebuilt.[7]. It will take around 12 months and INR 5 billion to repair it.

The less damaged sections of the Taj Mahal Palace & Tower hotel reopened on 21 December 2008. It will take several months to rebuilt the popular heritage section of the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel. [8]

In July 2009, Hillary Clinton visited Mumbai, aiming to deepen Indo-American ties and stayed at the Taj hotel. She 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.[9]

Literature

  • 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.

References

External links

Coordinates: 18°55′19″N 72°50′00″E / 18.922028°N 72.833358°E / 18.922028; 72.833358[[ The Taj Mahal Palace and Towers Mumbai on Smart Travel Asia at http://www.smarttravelasia.com/TopHotels/TajMumbai.htm, Smart Travel Asia,The regions dedicated online travel magazine at http://www.smarttravelasia.com/]]


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