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The Taj Mahal Palace Hotel: Architectural Jewel of MumbaiThe Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in Mumbai, India. Photo by Flickr Member Laertes
Taj Mahal Palace Hotel
- Mumbai, India
- Opened: 1903
- Architects: Sitaram Khanderao Vaidya and D. N. Mirza
- Completed By: W.A. Chambers
When terrorists targeted the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel on November 26, 2008, they attacked an important symbol of Indian affluence and sophistication.
Located in the historic city of Mumbai, formerly known as Bombay, the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel is an architectural landmark with a rich history. The noted Indian industrialist Jamshetji Nusserwanji Tata commissioned the hotel at the turn of the 20th century. The bubonic plague had devastated Bombay (now Mumbai), and Tata wanted to improve the City and to establish its reputation as an important financial center.
Most of the Taj Hotel was designed by an Indian architect, Sitaram Khanderao Vaidya. When Vaidya died, the British architect W.A. Chambers completed the project. With distinctive onion domes and pointed arches, the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel combined Moorish and Byzantine design with European ideas. W.A. Chambers expanded the size of the central dome, but most of the Hotel reflects Vaidya's original plans.
The Taj Mahal Palace Hotel: Overlooking the Harbor and the Gateway of IndiaThe Gateway of India Monument and the Taj Mahal Palace and Towers Hotel in Mumbai, India. Photo by Flickr Member Jensimon7
The Taj Mahal Palace Hotel overlooks the harbor and is adjacent to the Gateway of India, a historical memorial built between 1911 and 1924. Constructed of yellow basalt and reinforced concrete, the grand arch borrows details from 16th century Islamic architecture.
When the Gateway of India was built, it symbolized the City's openness to visitors. The terrorists who attacked Mumbai in November 2008 approached by small boats and docked here.
The tall building in the background is the tower wing of the Taj Mahal Hotel, constructed in the 1970s. From the tower, arched balconies offer sweeping views of the harbor.
Jointly, the Taj Hotels are known as the Taj Mahal Palace and Tower.03of 06
The Taj Mahal Palace and Tower: A Rich Blend of Moorish and European DesignEntrance to the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in Mumbai, India. Photo by Flickr Member "Bombman"
The Taj Mahal Palace and Tower Hotel has become famous for combining Islamic and European Renaissance architecture. Its 565 rooms are decorated in Moorish, Oriental, and Florentine styles. Interior details include:
- onyx columns
- vaulted alabaster ceilings
- cantilever stairway
- prized collections of Indian furnishings and art
The vast size and exquisite architectural details of the Taj Mahal Palace and Tower made it one of the world's most famous hotels, rivaling such Hollywood favorites as the Fontainebleau Miami Beach Hotel.04of 06
The Taj Hotel: An Architectural Symbol in FlamesSmoke pours from windows of the Taj Hotel in Mumbai after the terrorist attacks. Photo © Uriel Sinai/Getty Images
Tragically, the luxury and fame of the Taj Hotel may be the reasons why terrorists targeted it.
For India, the attack on the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel has a symbolic significance that some compare to the September 11, 2001, attack on the World Trade Center in New York City.05of 06
Fire Damage at the Taj Mahal Palace HotelFire Damage at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in Mumbai, India. Photo © Julian Herbert/Getty Images
Portions of the Taj Hotel suffered devastating damage during the terrorist attacks. In this photograph taken on November 29, 2008, security officials examine a room that had been destroyed by the fires.06of 06
Impact of Terrorist Attacks on the Taj Mahal Palace HotelTaj Hotel in Mumbai After Terrorist Attack. Photo © Julian Herbert/Getty Images
Fortunately, the terrorist attacks of November 2008 did not destroy the entire Taj Hotel. This room was spared serious damage.
The owners of the Taj Hotel have pledged to repair the damages and restore the hotel to its former glory. The restoration project is expected to take a year and to cost about Rs. 500 crore, or 100 million dollars.