The myths behind Hotel Taj and it being built backwards

The story goes that  that Jamsedji Tata decided to build a hotel “Worthy of Bombay”after he was refused entry to one of the city’s grand hotels of the time. Watson’s Hotel, as it was restricted to “whites only”.

Three Indian architects by the names of Siddhesh S., Sitaram Khanderao Vaidya and D. N. Mirza were assigned the task of designing a hotel so grand that it would not have an equal in the entire world. Khanderao Vaidya was the main architect and after his unfortunate demise while the hotel was still under construction, an English engineer, W. A. Chambers (who interestingly had designed the Watson Hotel too) took over as the head architect. Finally, the hotel was completed and inaugurated on 16 December 1903, with 7 floors and total cost of construction was £250,000 (£127 million today).

W.A. Chambers died after he finished building the hotel but there is a rumor that he committed suicide right inside the building. There is also a very childish theory behind the reason of his suicide. It is said that he wanted to build the hotel facing in the other direction than it is today. Chambers created the blueprints and went off on a trip to England. When he returned in 1903 he was shocked to find that the hotel frontage had been made in the reverse direction. He was believed to be a perfectionist and seeing the huge error in a construction that he was heading shattered him completely. So much that a few days later he walked over to the fifth floor of the building and jumped to his death from a window.

Interestingly Chambers was not the original architect of the building.


The Original Entrance; Source –

Other Trivia about Hotel Taj:

  • During World War I, the Taj was converted into a 600-bed hospital.
  • Chambers’s only design contribution was to increase the size of the central dome when he took over after Vaidya’s death.
  • In 1966, the building was so run-down, the president of Hilton hotels said the old Taj will remain standing “only as long as the termites keep holding hands”
  • It was built in 1903, 21 years before the Gateway of India.