The Taj Mahal Palace is a prestigious hotel located in the Colaba district of Mumbai, India, next to the Gateway of India. Part of the Taj Hotels, Resorts and Palaces, this 105-year old heritage building retains its stature as the flagship property of the group. It boasts a distinguished list of guests including Mick Jagger, Jacques Chirac, Prince Edward, Duke of Kent & Katharine, Duchess of Kent, Harald V of Norway & Queen Sonja of Norway, Marianne Faithfull, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Charles, The Beatles, Bill Clinton, Jacqueline Onassis and Elvis Presley.
The Taj Mahal Palace hotel resort was commissioned by Jamsetji Tata and first opened its doors to guests on December 16, 1903. Tata allegedly 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’. The original Indian architects were Sitaram Khanderao Vaidya and D. N. Mirza, but the project was completed by the English engineer W. A. Chambers. It cost about 4.21 crore rupees. During World War I, the hotel was converted into a 600-bed hospital.
The side of the hotel seen from the harbor 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. This is not true, as the hotel was deliberately built facing inland rather than to the harbor. This was probably a deliberate snub to the British king by Jamsedji Tata due to nationalist feelings. Some people believe that the front of the hotel had to face inland because the horse carriages, in which guests came to the hotel, could easily approach the hotel from the city. The carriages were then taken to Wellington Mews. Five decades ago, the old front was closed off, and access is since then through the seaside (former rear).
There used to be a Green’s Hotel 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.
Currently, the hotel is owned by Taj Hotels, one of the most successful Luxury Hotel & Resort chains in India.
From a 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 “Tower” refers to the Taj Intercontinental.