As the restoration work of the ravaged Taj Mahal Hotel has kicked-off, Parsis of Navsari are worried over something that is very dear to their heart – the beauty of the heritage structure. They want the original design of the hotel, which was a gift from Jamshetji Tata, should be duly restored.
“The Taj is a symbol of Indian pride, and also sentiments of countless Indians are conjoined to it. Elegance should be given due care during restoration. The hotel is synonymous with the history of the last 100 years, wherein many great decisions and changes have taken place,” said Kersi Deboo, a historian in Navsari.
This milestone of India’s hotel industry, he said, needs to bounce back to its former stateliness, which is why authorities need to do everything possible to restore its previous dignity.
“Irrespective of events and time, the hotel will always live in eternal glory. But we are worried that the restoration work might change its magnificent aura,” he added.
In fact, there are many stories behind building the Taj. According to Russi Lala, author of For the Love of India – The Life and Times of Jamshetji Tata, the Taj was Jamshetji’s gift to Mumbai, the city he loved the most.
At the end of the 19th century, during the British regime, Indians were not allowed to enter good hotels. “Some hotels and clubs had even written instructions outside, disallowing the entry of ‘dogs and Indians’. When Jamshetji was denied entry to an expensive hotel in England, he decided that he would build a hotel better than the best. And in 1903, he did,” Deboo said.
Yazdi Karanzia, a theatre personality in Surat, also said that the reconstruction work should not leave any marks on the Taj.
“We know that it’s a heritage building, and utmost care should be taken during the reconstruction work so that the hotel’s ambiance is not affected,” said Cyrus Irani, a resident of Navsari.