MUMBAI: The 105-year-old historic Taj Mahal hotel, one of the sites of a
60-hour siege, threw open its doors on Sunday (December 21) to more than 1,000 clients and guests for a gala reception.
Sunday's newspapers carried a large advertisement with the stunning dome of the Taj Mahal and a headline that said: 'Welcome Home Again.'
However, only the new wing of the hotel, known as The Taj Mahal Tower, will open in December, and the company has not said when the older part of sprawling Mumbai landmark would reopen.
Ratan Tata, chairman of Tata Group, which also owns several heritage
properties in India, has vowed to “rebuild every inch” and
“bring back the Taj to its full glory”.
Tata while addressing media persons outside the hotel said that it was a
challenge to have the hotel reopen within one month from attack.
“This is a memorable day. It's a show of strength, it's a tribute to
all those who have suffered either through the loss of their lives, through injuries, it's a tribute to those who saved many lives. And it is an indication of our participation in the community of the city of Mumbai,” said Tata.
Tata further added that the reopening depicts that people are hurt but
cannot be knocked down.
Elite class of entertainment capital including eminent writer and columnist Shoba De and Bollywood actor Rahul Bose were present at the opening ceremony.
Newly appointed chief of Maharashtra state, Ashok Chavan also marked his
presence at the opening ceremony.
“We do remember the people who have lost their lives and the guests
who had stayed in the hotel. We do remember our great heroes, the NSG
(National Security Guard), the police who have fought bravely the terrorists. At the time we are also glad that the hotel…We are coming back to normal, hotel starts functioning,” said Chavan.
Chavan was appointed as the new Chief after following resignation by his
predecessor after the Mumbai terror attack.
Gunmen took scores of guests hostage and battled commandos inside the
flagship hotel of Indian conglomerate Tata Group, as the militants killed more than 170 people on a three-day rampage in the financial hub last month.
Fire, water, shooting and grenade blasts during the 60-hour siege damaged the hotel, which was crowded with fine art, sculptures, chandeliers, photographs, and visitors' books signed by kings, rock stars, business barons and heads of state.
But Taj officials have not quantified the extent of the damage to the
hotel, one of 10 sites attacked by the gunmen on Nov. 26-29.
Mumbai's luxury Trident hotel which was also attacked by the Islamist
gunmen, also reopened earlier in the day.
However, the Trident's older Oberoi wing which suffered more extensive
damage could take a few months longer to reopen.
At Leopold Cafe, another of the 10 sites that were attacked, regulars and curious visitors have flocked back, despite the bullet holes that are still visible in its walls and windows.