"Its a magical world, Hobbes, ol' buddy....lets go exploring!" - Calvin in the last Calvin and Hobbes strip
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
Taj Mahal Palace - Mumbai
This was my first visit to the Taj after the terror attacks in Mumbai in 2008 and I have to admit I could not walk in my usual nonchalant self. This time my eyes saw it as a historical building. I gleaned over coffee table books to learn some more...
The Taj started off as a Green's Hotel at Appollo Bunder. Commissioned by Jamshetji Nusserwanji Tata in the latter half of the 19th century, the hotel has been built in Mughal-Gothic style architecture. It is said that the English engineer W. A. Chambers designed it from back to front. The result of this is that the rooms facing the back of the hotels are better with views of the luxuriant pool and gardens (now under renovation) than those in front which look out to the sea.
The Hotel opened to all in December 1903 with a party in the Ballroom. An equally (or more) grand party was organised when the Hotel completed its 100 years in the same room. The decor and theme was in white and gold. The art and antiques collected over the years was on display and of course the best china used.
The Taj has a long list of distinguished guests. From Sarojini Naidu who apparently stayed here for months on end to the Beatles and Jackie Keneddy and more recently Hillary Clinton. The Hotel however, manages to hold its own treating each guest with lavish attention. I stopped by in the lobby at the Memorial Tree (for those who lost their lives in the attack). The musician at the piano nodded to me and began to play a tune which though soft resonated of cheerfulness. It is this kindness and charm of those attending to guests which stay with you long after you have left.
The coffee table book at my room says- The splendour that is the Taj! I could not agree more.