The Taj Mahal hotel, also known simply as the Taj, is an iconic landmark of Mumbai. The hotel, along with the Gateway of India facing it, is synonymous with the bursting city itself!
As a child, it was my dream and possibly of every Mumbaikar (citizen of Mumbai) to stay at this magnificent & historic hotel. After a bit of coaxing from my friends, for which, I am very thankful, my wife and I celebrated our 6th wedding anniversary at the Taj Mahal Hotel in Dec 2013.
The Taj is the epitome of luxury. The customer service & attention to detail is above par! Obviously, such luxury comes at a price but never did we feel that the money was not well spent.
For dining, there are many choices, we picked the ones that fit the description: “go for the food, stay for the view”. Souk restaurant, at the top of Taj Tower, has excellent views of the Gateway of India, the navy yard and rest of South-Mumbai. I hadn’t seen Mumbai from such a vantage point before. Not only was the food delicious but also the server made our lunch a memorable one. For breakfast, the Sauvé restaurant, which is a throwback to the 50s, also overlooks the Gateway from a low to the ground view.
The most stunning view of all, however, was from our room: watching the sunrise from behind the Gateway of India. The 300-year-old monument looks ever so magnanimous, against a backdrop of the Arabian Sea turned golden by the Sun. Another thing I realized that day: Mumbai is on the western coast of India but the Gateway of India faces the ‘EAST!’
Every afternoon, the hotel offers a tour that traverses time from opening of the Taj in 1800 by Jamsethji Tata to the present. Its filled with all kinds of trivia like the original entrance to the hotel was where the swimming pool stands today; a great paradox: a shoe shop designed by the artist MF Hussain, who never wears any shoes and to remind the patrons of this fact, has left an impression of his barefoot at the shop entrance. The tour walks by many famous artifacts gifted or left behind by famous personalities including Monarchs, Heads of States, dignitaries artists, and sports persons. Finally, the tour takes a moment to relive the horror of the 2008 terrorist attack on Mumbai and Taj. A half-burnt tree in the lobby is the only remaining memory and now a memorial to the sacrifice and bravery of the staff and soldiers.
There may be hotels grander the Taj but there is no greater joy than a long-cherished dream come true. Oh and thanks Taj for a memorable anniversary. Wah Taj!