The legendary Taj Mahal Palace hotel, founded by Jamsetji Tata over a century ago in Mumbai, reopens 44 lavishly appointed suites in 20 styles, each with its own unique theme

DEC 20, 2019 | By Aneesha Bhadri
CLOCKWISE, FROM LEFT Porcelain accents and intricate stencilling, with coastal references decorate this suite. An exquisite Ram Kumar painting, depicting the confluence of land and water, is the piece de resistance; The duplex layout, also by JPA Design, commemorates George Harrison’s stay at the hotel in 1966 to study the sitar under the venerable Pandit Ravi Shankar; London based JPA Design chose a pristine palette of white and blue inspired by seagulls and their natural habitat; Singapore based LTW Designworks created this suite to be reminiscent of the glorious abodes of Maratha royals. Its hues of ochre, sand and turmeric are borrowed from the vivid flag of the 18th century empire
CLOCKWISE, FROM LEFT Traditional artworks, ranging from highly ornate Thanjavur to simplistic Warli, are displayed here; The sea facing suite is adorned with original artefacts and memorabilia from the Ravi Shankar Foundation. It also houses a library with concert recordings of both maestros

The Indo-Gothic facade of The Taj Mahal Palace hotel stands tall and proud along Mumbai’s coastline—a beacon of blazing brilliance. The undeniably opulent property, designed by architects Sitaram Khanderao Vaidya and DN Mirza and English engineer WA Chambers, is a veritable echo chamber of historic memories and anecdotal narratives. Right from its transformation into a military hospital during World War I to the rumoured suicide of Chambers owing to the back of the building incorrectly facing the Gateway of India.

The heritage structure has witnessed a long history and weathered many storms, including the tragic 2008 terror attacks. Even so, it is fondly remembered for its best in class offerings—renowned for being the first hotel in India to have electricity, American fans, German elevators, Turkish baths and English butlers, an all day dining eatery and a discotheque. It also housed, what was Mumbai’s first licensed bar.

Over the past century, it has played host to monarchs, heads of state, flamboyant bon vivants and industry pioneers. With newly furnished suites designed by famed creatives, the hotel maintains itself as a symbol of classic splendour. Famed artworks, vintage artefacts and plush textiles adorn each of the 44 abodes crafted in 20 distinct styles. The opulent presidential suite, named after Jamsetji Tata, pays tribute to the visionary. At the centre of the Taj’s seaside elevation is the Ravi Shankar Suite, where musical harmony pervades the space and a dedicated library houses a collection of concert recordings of Pandit Ravi Shankar and George Harrison.

A vaulted ceiling just beyond fort like teak doors highlights the regal elegance of the Maratha Suite, where textiles in crimson, mandarin and mustard, along with vernacular art recreate a bygone era. A blue and white palette realises a marine theme in the Seagull Suite. It is enhanced by a stunning view of the Arabian Sea in the horizon, with ferries and yachts dotting its undulating surface.