|Taj Mahal Palace Hotel|
Taj Mahal Palace Hotel
|Location||Mumbai, Maharashtra, India|
|Opening||16 December 1903|
|Owner||Indian Hotels Company Ltd.|
|Floor count||6 floors in The Taj Mahal Palace, 20 floors in the Taj Mahal Tower|
|Design and construction|
|Architect||Sitaram Khanderao Vaidya and D. N. Mirza|
|Number of rooms||550|
|Number of suites||44|
|Number of restaurants||9|
The Taj Mahal Palace Hotel is a heritage five-star hotel in the Colaba region of Mumbai, Maharashtra, India, next to the Gateway of India. Historically it was known as the "Taj Mahal Hotel" or the "Taj Palace Hotel" or simply "the Taj".
Part of the Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces, this hotel is considered the flagship property of the group and contains 560 rooms and 44 suites. There are some 1,600 staff including 35 butlers. 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. In 2017, the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel has acquired an image trademark. It is the first building in the country to get intellectual property rights protection for its architectural design.
The hotel has hosted many notable guests, from presidents to captains of industry and stars of show business. Pakistan's founder, Muhammad Ali Jinnah's second wife Ratanbai Petit lived in the hotel during her last days in 1929—her mother, Sylla Tata, was born into the Tata family.
The hotel's original building was commissioned by Tata and first opened its doors to guests on 16 December 1903.
It is widely believed that Jamsetji 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 in 2008 prices).
Originally the main entrance was on the other side, where now the pool exists, and the ocean was at the back, although it is now always viewed and photographed from the ocean side.
Between 1915 and 1919, work proceeded at Apollo Bundar to reclaim the land behind the hotel where the Gateway of India was built in 1924. Gateway of India soon became a major focal point in Bombay.
The original clientele were mainly the Europeans, the Maharajas and the elites. Many world-renowned personalities have since stayed there, from Somerset Maugham and Duke Ellington to Lord Mountbatten and Bill Clinton.
When it opened in 1903, the hotel was the first in India to have: electricity, American fans, German elevators, Turkish baths and English butlers. Later it also had the city’s first licensed bar, India’s first all-day restaurant, and the India’s first discotheque, Blow Up. Initially in 1903, it charged Rs 13 for rooms with fans and attached bathrooms, and Rs 20 with full board.
During World War I the hotel was converted into a hospital with 600 beds.
Muhammad Ali Jinnah's second wife Ratanbai Petit lived here during her last days in 1929 (her mother belonged to the Tata family). By 1966, the building was run-down, perhaps as a results of losing the British customers in 1948.
The Taj Mahal Tower, an additional wing of the hotel, was opened in 1973. It was designed by jointly by Daraius Batliwala & Rustom Patell with the latter having a greater focus later on. Also in 1970s Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces was organized that built new properties and converted palaces into heritage hotels. In 1980, it expanded overseas.
The hotel received extensive international exposure in 2008 and reopened after extensive repairs.
Taj Mahal Palace Hotel was specifically chosen by Lashkar-e-Taiba for an attack so that it will be "striking a blow against a symbol of Indian wealth and progress". The hotel was attacked on 26 November 2008, 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 on 29 November. 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. The attack was planned using information compiled by David Headley, a Pakistani-American, who had stayed at the hotel multiple times.
Soon after (30 November), Tata 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 operatives.
The less-damaged sections of the Taj Mahal Palace and 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 India – United States relations 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." 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. The palace wing has been restored and offers new hotel services.[clarification needed]
On 6 November 2010, 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 that "the Taj has been the symbol of the strength and the resilience of the Indian people."
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. Such authors as Jeffrey Archer have used this term in their novels.
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