INTACH offers to restore Mumbai's Taj Mahal Hotel

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New Delhi, Nov 28 (UNI) The Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), a nodal agency engaged in preserving unprotected monuments, today said it will be able to restore the iconic Taj Mahal Hotel that has been damaged in terrorist attack.

INTACH Chairman S K Mishra said,''Our panel of conservation experts will be able to restore the hotel to its original grandeur.'' ''We will write to Mr Ratan Tata with our offer of help,'' he told reporters here.

Though the majestic structure seems to have withstood the brunt of bullets and grenades, the interiors may have been extensively damaged, as grenades were lobbed inside the hotel frequently by the terrorists.

A huge fire could be seen emanating from the upper floors of the hotel, yesterday. Its three domes have been badly defaced due to the smoke, though its outer facade is intact.

The roof of the hotel has also been damaged, and several rooms have been gutted and so too the woodwork on few floors.

The hotel, a heritage monument built in 1903, has been a important landmark in Mumbai. It has been there, much before the Gateway of India was completed in 1928 to commemorate the visit of King George V and Queen Mary.

The 1970s saw the addition of the Tower block, which nearly doubled the hotel's room capacity. Now it has 565 rooms and 45 suites. The old wing is said to have borne the maximum brunt of the terror attack.

It is believed that Jamsetji Tata had built this hotel, after being turned away from the grand Watson's in Kala Ghoda area of Mumbai, as it admitted only Whites then.

In a message, Mr Ratan Tata, Chairman of Indian Hotels Company Ltd has promised to rebuild the damaged structure. Conveying his sympathies to the families of those dead, he has said,''We cannot replace the lives that have been lost..., but we must stand together, shoulder to shoulder as citizens of India, and rebuild what has been destroyed,'' he said.

The hotel is an architectural marvel and brings together Moorish, Oriental and Florentine styles.The hotel showcases contemporary Indian influences along with beautiful vaulted alabaster ceilings, onyx columns, graceful archways, hand-woven silk carpets, crystal chandeliers, a magnificent art collection, an eclectic collection of furniture, and a dramatic cantilever stairway.


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