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After the terrorist attack in November 2008, Taj Mahal Palace Hotel was reopened in August 2010. Credit: saiko3p / Shutterstock.
Taj Mahal Palace Hotel underwent a $37.3m reconstruction and renovation between 2008 and 2010. Credit: muratart / Shutterstock.

The Taj Mahal Palace is a historic luxury hotel in the Colaba district of Mumbai, Maharashtra state, India. The 117-year-old landmark hotel is located adjacent to the Gateway of India, overlooking Mumbai harbour.

The Taj Mahal Hotel was conceived and developed by industrialist Jamshetji Nusserwanji Tata and was inaugurated on 3 December 1903. The hotel is operated by the Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces of the Tata Group.

The Taj Mahal Palace was one of the prime targets of terrorists that attacked Mumbai on 26 November 2008. The hotel was severely damaged in the gun battle, which lasted almost three days.

After the attack, the least-damaged sections of the tower wing were re-opened on 21 December 2008. The badly damaged heritage sections, however, needed comprehensive renovation and reconstruction works. The renovated hotel was finally reopened on 15 August 2010, to coincide with India’s 64th Independence Day celebrations.

Before the bombings, the Taj Mahal Hotel, along with its tower wing, was known as the Taj Mahal Palace and Tower (TMPT). It was later renamed the Taj Mahal Palace for its grand reopening. The hotel completed its 117th anniversary in December 2020.

European and Islamic design influences on the Taj Mahal Palace hotel

The 22-floor Taj Mahal Palace has a rich blend of European and Islamic-style architecture. The hotel offers panoramic views of the Arabian Sea from the rear of the hotel while the hotel’s entrance at the front faces west.

The hotel building has onion domes and a grand pointed arch depicting 16th-century Islamic architecture. The building has a central iconic red dome and two wings topped with smaller domes. The façade of the hotel is of oriental style.

The tower wing has arched balconies, covered by an uneven edged diadem. It offers panoramic views of the harbour. The wing incorporates unique Indian style designs such as Tanjore pillars and Udaipur-style relief panels. The hotel features luxury rooms and suites such as the impressive 465m² Tata Suite, Rajput Suite and Presidential Suite.

The Palace or heritage wing of the hotel has 42 suites, 19 of which feature different themes such as Dolphin, Coral, Dutch and Maratha.

The Taj Mahal Palace was originally designed by Indian architects DN Mirza and Sitaram Khanderao Vaidya. The project was completed by the British architect and engineer WA Chambers. The sea-facing hotel structure is built on a 40ft-deep foundation. Khansaheb Sorabji Ruttonji Contractor was the builder.

During World War I, the hotel was used as a hospital and kitted out with 600 beds.

The Taj Mahal Palace was expanded in the 1970s with the adjacent tower block. This extension increased the number of rooms from 225 to 565 and saw the addition of food and beverage outlets and public areas.

The tower building was designed by US architect Melton Bekker while Swiss designer Dale Keller was responsible for the interiors.

The tower wing underwent refurbishment in the late 1990s. The top floors were modernised and updated with the latest communication facilities and modern furniture.

Renovation of the heritage wing

From late 2008 to August 2010, the heritage wing underwent major reconstruction and renovation. A total of INR1.75bn ($37.3m) was spent on the 285-room palace wing.

The works included upgrade, restoration and repair of the public spaces, including the Taj ballroom and restaurants. Artwork and furniture damaged during the terrorist attack were restored by consultants from the US, Italy, the UK, India and Singapore.

The consultants involved in the restoration project are LTW Design Works, Lissoni Associati and James Park Associates (JPA).

In December 2009, Rockwell Group redesigned the Harbour Bar and Wasabi by Morimoto restaurant in the Taj Mahal Palace.

TMPT interior design

The Taj Mahal Palace hotel is built from yellow basalt and reinforced concrete while the dome was constructed with imported steel that was used for Eiffel Tower. The Tata suite has markrana marble flooring. The interiors of the hotel are designed in Florentine, oriental and Moorish styles. The ceilings of the hotel are vaulted in alabaster and onyx columns.

The building has graceful archways and a cantilevered stairway. It also features pietra-dura floor panels and fretted stone panels at the lobby of the tower wing. The interiors are decorated with hand-woven silk carpets, art collections, crystal chandeliers, eclectic furniture and magnificent artefact collections.

Taj Mahal Palace facilities

The Taj Mahal Palace has 565 rooms, 46 suites, banquets rooms, 11 restaurants and a Jiva spa. It also has Turkish baths, a power laundry, a chemist’s shop, a shopping arcade and banking service.

It was the first Indian hotel to use a steam elevator. The hotel was also the first in India to have an air-conditioned ballroom and restaurant and the first licensed bar, the Harbour Bar, which was built in 1933.

The business centre of the hotel has five conference rooms with PC workstations, internet, portable printers, in-house video conferencing, multimedia computers, colour copying and other administrative facilities.