Little Bits of History

Taj Mahal Palace Hotel

Posted in History by patriciahysell on December 16, 2015
Taj Mahal Palace Hotel

Taj Mahal Palace Hotel

December 16, 1903: The Taj Mahal Palace Hotel opens in Bombay. It is the flagship property of the Taj Hotels, Resorts, and Palaces held by the Tata Group. Located in the Colaba region of Mumbai, India, it is next to the British built Gateway to India. Jamsedji Tata was born in Bombay in 1839 and is known as the “Father of Indian Industry”. He was the founder of the Tata Group, which is a multinational conglomerate concerned with almost all industries including the hospitality business. The Group was founded in 1868 and owned by the Tata Sons and has 600,000 employees.

It was once believed that Tata decided to build his magnificent hotel after he was refused entry at the Watson’s Hotel which was restricted to whites only. This tale has been criticized as Tata would have little need for revenge against the British. Instead, it is thought he was encouraged by The Times of India to build a hotel “worthy of Bombay” and so took on the challenge. Indian architects were Sitaram Khanderao Vaidya and DN Mirza designed the magnificent seven story building. The project was completed by WA Chambers, an English engineer and Khansaheb Sorabji Ruttonji Contractor built it. The contractor was the person who designed the famous central floating staircase. The cost of building was £250,000 which is about £127 million today.

The Taj Mahal Tower is a free standing building which opened in 1973. It is part of the system, but is not directly connected to the older portion of the hotel. Each was built independently and in a different style with the tower much more modern in design. It has 22 floors. The hotel system has a total of 560 rooms and 44 suites. There are 11 restaurants in the complex. There are about 1,500 staff working there with 35 butlers included. The hotel is said to provide the highest level of service in all of India and many famous people from politicians to show business stars have stayed there.

On November 26, 2008 the historic hotel came under attack. It and the Oberoi were the targets of Lashkar-e-Taiba, a Muslim terrorist group. During the Mumbai attacks, at least 167 people were killed and at least 31 of them were from the Taj. Most of the casualties were Indian citizens, but foreigner with Western passports were singled out and killed. At the time of the attacks, about 450 people were staying at the Taj. Tata chairman Ratan Tata said the hotel had been warned prior to the attacks and had taken some countermeasures although over time they had been relaxed. Even so, the terrorists were able to easily sidestep the measure that were in place. The building took significant damage which included the destruction of the building’s roof. The less heavily damaged areas were able to open on December 21, 2008 but it took several months to completely repair the historic building. On August 15, 2010 the restoration costing 1.75 billion rupees (about $27 million) was finished and the building was officially reopened.

In a free enterprise the community is not just another stakeholder in the business but in fact the very existence of it. – Jamsetji Tata

The ultimate of being successful is the luxury of giving yourself the time to do what you want to do. – Leontyne Price

Living in the lap of luxury isn’t bad, except that you never know when luxury is going to stand up. – Orson Welles

People have declaimed against luxury for 2000 years, in verse and in prose, and people have always delighted in it. – Voltaire

Also on this day: Mississippi River Flowed North – In 1811, after a series of earthquakes, the Mississippi river flowed in the opposite direction for a time.
Mr. Music – In 1770, Ludwig van Beethoven was born.
Tea for Two – In 1773, the Boston Tea Party took place.
Protector – In 1653, Oliver Cromwell became the first Lord Protector of the Commonwealth.
Science of Bank Robbery – In 1930, Herman Lamm died.

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