Mumbai: After 105 years of functioning as one of the finest hotels across the globe, the Taj Mahal Palace and Tower has little to celebrate on this day following the recent terror onslaught on the hotel that killed about 60 people.
There may be no birthday candles being lit today - the Taj opened its doors to both Indians and foreigners on December 16, 1903 - but the hotel is determined to play host to the world again by reopening the Tower wing at 7pm on December 21.
Even as the heritage section - an architectural marvel that brings together Moorish, Oriental and Florentine styles showcasing contemporary Indian influences - is all set for a mammoth restoration of all that has been destroyed by gunshots and grenades, massive efforts are now on for a swift re-opening of the Tower on Sunday.
The hotel is not saying too much about what its plans are but Raymond Bickson, Managing Director and CEO, The Indian Hotels Company Ltd, said recently that "to reopen the Taj with such speed but with no loss of attention to details, shows our resolve to commemorate all the innocent and brave people who lost their lives during the terrorist attacks. In their honour, the Taj will shine again in all its brilliance."
The Taj hotel was Indian industrialist Jamsetji Tata's personal gift to the city he loved.
As there was no Gateway of India, the Taj hotel was literally the first landmark for ships sailing into the Bombay Harbour until 1924.
At a time when the British were reclaiming the land in this area, he bought two and a half acres on November 1, 1898.
Tata himself took a keen interest in all that went into the making of the first luxury hotel in India. The hotel was opened before completion in 1903, a decision perhaps taken by his sons due to his failing health.
When the hotel was opened, it was considered the only place in the world where a British Viceroy could rub shoulders with an Indian Maharajah and where the Congress could debate...