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The entrance to Bombay harbour is flamked by the grand Gateway of India and the majestic Taj Mahal Palace. wikimedia

One day Jamsetji took a foreign friend of his for dinner at one of the few tolerable hotels that existed in Mumbai, then known as Bombay. The doorman promptly held the door open for the foreigner but refrained Jamsetji from entering the hotel. He told Jamsetji that his guest was welcome but regrettably he was not. The hotel was "FOR EUROPEANS ONLY". Jamsetji was dumbstruck and later found out that all the existing tolerable hotels in Bombay catered primarily to the English, a few even banned Indians completely. That evening Jamsetji decided that he would build a hotel that would be the pride of India and would attract travellers from all over the globe to Bombay.

Jamsetji Nusserwanji Tata was an Indian pioneer industrialist, who founded the Tata Group, India's biggest conglomerate company. He established the city of Jamshedpur, which is the first planned industrial city of India. He is widely regarded as the legendary "Father of Indian Industry". It is said that the first prime minister of free India, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru referred to Tata as a One-Man Planning Commission.

 The Taj Mahal Palace Hotel A century later The Taj Mahal Palace Hotel still stands tall like the much grander Statue of Liberty. Photo by AaDil on Unsplash

The Taj Mahal Palace Hotel stands tall overlooking the ever populous Bombay harbour. On the waterfront, to the left of the Taj, stands the magnificent Gateway of India. The grand entrance was erected to commemorate the landing of King George Ⅴ, who in 1911 came to visit India. He was the first and the last British monarch to do so. The harbour is dotted with a slew of launches and a barrage of ships are ever waiting to dock in. In the distance, on the mainland, warped in the shadow of the hills, burns the bright flame of an oil refinery. When in 1900, Jamsetji first conceived the idea of building a hotel, neither the Gateway of India nor the refinery existed.

It is said that Jamestiji himself toured Europe in 1902. In spite of having a weak heart, he walked the streets of Dusseldorf and other European countries to make first-hand purchases of soda and ice-making machinery, a laundry, elevator and electric generators. The hotel then boasted to have a Turkish bath, a post office, a chemist's shop and a resident doctor on call 24/7 to attend sickly guests.

The Taj Mahal Palace Hotel stands tall overlooking the ever populous Bombay harbour.

The Taj Mahal Palace Hotel commenced operations on the 16th December 1903 and had only seventeen guests during its inaugural day. It was the first public building in Bombay to be lit by electric lamps. The lamps used to be lit as dusk time fell over the city. The ritual was so popular that every evening an awestruck crowd used to gather outside the Taj, just to be mesmerized by its glittering facade.

A century later The Taj Mahal Palace Hotel still stands tall like the much grander Statue of Liberty, which invites the tired and the homeless from all over the world to the New World. Looking at The Taj invokes bittersweet memories in the minds of the natives. On one end The Taj is seen as a symbol of pride and prestige of the city and likewise the country too but on the other end, it is marred by the history of a bloody terror attack. The Taj doesn't have any visible tell-a-tale signs of the terror attack but the rattling sound of the automatic gunfire of the AK-47's still echoes in its wide spacious corridors.

Keywords: Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, Jamestji Tata, Gateway of India.


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