Taj Mahal hotel heritage wing reopens

by Emily DUNBAR on August 16, 2010

A five-star hotel that has served as an iconic emblem in Mumbai has fully reopened as of Sunday after sustaining extensive damage during the November 2008 hotel bombings.

With hundreds of people visiting the newly restored historical building, the 107-year old Taj Mahal hotel, which faces the sea, was a victim of the three-day terrorist rampage across the financial capital of India perpetrated by 10 young men carrying grenades and assault rifles. The hotel’s famous dome was consumed by flames and its windows and walls were riddled with gunfire after the infamous attacks on the city.

The 60-hour ordeal, which also targeted an additional luxury hotel, a popular restaurant and a Jewish centre, left 166 people around the city dead and also saw the main train station terrorised. Of those that lost their lives, 31 had been at the Taj Mahal hotel when the incident occurred.

The hotel’s famous heritage wing sustained the most damage taking 22 months to repair and costing nearly $37 million in expenses. Just three weeks after the attacks had taken place, a new portion of the hotel was opened for limited business, but the main historic side took three years to completely restore. The heritage wing opened Sunday to match up with the nation’s 64th Independence Day and features 285 rooms. Prices per stay per night begin at $625.

According to Raymond Bickson, Indian Hotels Co. Ltd, which runs the Taj Group of hotels, the incident nearly tore apart the city two-year agos. However, Mr Bickson said that the group would not be defeated and had come back better than before. Mr Bickson also indicated that the hotel’s security had been improved to ensure additionally safety precautions were taken for staff and guests.

India has blamed the 2008 attacks on a Pakistani militant group known as Lashkar-e-Taiba. The government has since enacted a crack down on terrorists groups operating on Indian soil. Authorities were able to capture just one of the gunmen in the attack. He was sentenced to death during a special tribunal earlier this year.

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