In Delhi, an address is not just a mere indicator of location. And if you are in Lutyens Delhi, the spaces between each word hold a legacy that only its walls know. Such is the story of the iconic Taj Mahal, also known as Taj Mansingh—a name derived from the prime location it occupies in Delhi and the Capital's history.
Since opening in 1978, the grand hotel has withstood seasons only a few establishments in the city can claim to have witnessed. Yet, as it completed 45 years on November 30, it shined just as bright, albeit in a new avatar.
While the Taj Mahal's grandeur never lost its lustre, the beginning of a new chapter in its illustrious history demanded a refreshed look, and so began the three-year-long journey of reimagining the hotel. However, for a hotel of this stature, it's far from a straightforward process.
With a legacy spanning four decades that can send any Delhiite on a nostalgic trail, the revamp was all about striking a delicate balance between what the hotel has represented so far and how to make it future-ready, and between catering to the new-age traveller, but not without a nod to those who have celebrated every milestone in Bukhara.
Even though the redevelopment spanned three years, interrupted by the pandemic, the Taj Mahal continued to regale discerning travellers by ensuring the new additions were revealed in phases.
The Chambers Lounge, India's first business club, was the first to debut. Its exclusive charm remains intact across the members-only club's cigar lounge, meeting rooms (one of which has been designed by Italian luxury brand Stefano Ricci) and the whiskey bar, but with plush new interiors in neutral colours.
Similarly, the two restaurants that have floored gourmands year after year—the House of Ming and Machan—not only feature design upgrades that expertly fuse the old with the new, but also a reimagined menu. Meanwhile, the Casablanca-themed bar lounge Rick's dazzles with timeless interiors, whereas the newly opened contemporary wine lounge Captain's Cellar checks every box to become a go-to for all wine lovers in the city.
The hotel's bold plans to level up in every way possible find expression in the rooms and suites as well. The spacious Luxury Residences have been planned meticulously to fulfil all the demands of a long-time guest, whereas the signature suites, including the resplendent Raisina-The Grand Presidential, Rambagh-The Presidential, and the Maharaja Suite, embody significant epochs in the Indian and the hotel's history by seamlessly blending classic design with modern amenities. Among them, the Maharaja Suite most certainly stands out as it pays homage to the pioneer of Indian aviation.
Talking about how important it was to retain their individuality, Suma Venkatesh, executive vice president of real estate and development, said, "We have restored and refurbished some of our existing popular suites, such as the Versaille and the Tanjore suites. Previously, we have had guests who would particularly want to stay in the same suite every time they visited us. So, we decided to make it more in tune with the times, while keeping its soul intact. We restored and refurbished many of the original artworks. For the Rambagh Presidential Suite, we also brought in craftsmen to create the original gold leaf work."
In true Taj Mahal style, the celebration of completing 45 years as the Capital's prime address was a grand affair, complete with a laser light and sound show that projected "The Right Name on Mansingh is Taj" on the notable facade and an outstanding performance by the Shillong Chamber Choir. The evening was not just a ceremonious ode to the history of the landmark hotel that completes the Capital and the Lutyens but also a celebration of embarking on a new journey.