Sunday 21 December 2008
Mumbai — With prayers on their lips and resolve to fight terrorism in their hearts, guests and staff flocked to two sea-facing hotels in India’s commercial capital that reopened on Sunday, barely three weeks after terrorists ravaged the properties in one of the worst attacks on the country’s soil that left nearly 170 dead.
The 103-year-old Taj Mahal hotel threw its doors open to a part of its property soon after, with its chairman Ratan Tata saying the reopening, within a month of the attacks of November 26, sent out a strong message to terrorists that their nefarious designs will be defeated.
Taj hotel overtakes Gateway after terror attacks
All the bags of guests were passed through metal detectors and X-ray machines, while security personnel checked the identity cards and verified the bona fides of all guests as part of the tightened security drill never witnessed before.
In the nearby Taj Mahal Palace and Tower Hotel, damaged during the attacks, some 1,000 guests and visitors were invited for the re-opening of as many as 268 rooms, including nine suites, as also seven restaurants.
Taj GM Kang returns to work
«By reopening the hotel, we have sent a strong message to the terrorists. Taj is the symbol of our tenacity», said Ratan Tata, the chairman of the $62.5 billion Tata Group, India’s largest industrial house that manages the hotel.
«Of the 268 rooms in the tower block, 150 have been booked», said R.K. Krishna Kumar, vice-president of Indian Hotels, the corporate owners the Taj Mahal Palace and Towers, while expecting booking to pick up from New Year.
But the heritage wing of the century-old Taj property, facing the Gateway of India, is likely to take at least a few months to reopen, as will be the case with the Oberoi hotel adjacent to Trident, the managements said.
The Oberoi and the heritage building of the Taj were badly affected and experts in structural engineering and architects feel it may take between six-eight months to recommence operations in these wings.
Tourists back at Mumbai’s Leopold Café
The Taj Mahal Palace and Tower hotels is among more than 10 locations that had been targeted by terrorists on November 26, leading to nearly 60 hours of mayhem that killed nearly 170 people in the city.
Even at Leopold Cafe, another popular site targeted on November 26, it was business as usual for the management and guests alike, even though its walls still bore the bullet marks left behind by the terrorists.