Mumbai, December 16 2011: - On the special occasion of the 110th year of inception of Indian Hotels Company Ltd and the 108th birthday of its iconic flagship, Mr. Ratan Tata, Chairman, TATA Sons, unveiled the much awaited coffee table book, 'The Taj At Apollo Bunder' at The Taj Mahal Palace, Mumbai. Present on this landmark moment was R.K. Krishna Kumar and Raymond Bickson. 'The Taj At Apollo Bunder', is an epic that captures the rich and profound history of the Taj Mahal Palace from the time of its conceptualization in the 1890's to present day. Written by noted historians Mr. Charles Allen and Ms. Sharada Dwivedi, the book tells the story of a unique institution that is a much beloved icon and hotel. The foreword has been written by Mr. Ratan Tata, Chairman, TATA Sons. 'The Taj At Apollo Bunder' will now be available at book stores across the country and proceeds of the books sales will go to Taj Public Service Welfare Trust.
The star studded event saw the glitterati in attendance as several personalities from the art, literary and entertainment fraternity, corporate honchos and discerning guests of the Taj rubbed shoulders. Eminent personalities namely, Shekhar Kapur, His Royal Highness Shri Arvind Singh Mewar of Udaipur, William Dalrymple, Juhi Chawla and Suhel Seth read excerpts from the book. To mark this momentous day, Mr. Tata was presented with a magnificent painting of the grand Taj Dome specially created for this occasion by renowned artist - Samir Mondal.
From the first day it opened its doors on 16th December 1903, The Taj Mahal Palace - always known simply as "The Taj" was acknowledged as India's finest hotel. The book details with commendable candidness and numerous humour-laced stories, the history and its highs and lows through the last century. It chronicles the vision of the founder Mr. J.N Tata, and how he played a leading role in restoring the faith and prosperity of Plague-affected Bombay by building an architectural marvel for tourists. The hotel then became a virtual second home for the country's Maharajas, even as it played host to Congress stalwarts like Sarojini Naidu engaged in the freedom struggle. It was a natural stop for a host of celebrities visiting Bombay, from Gregory Peck to George Harrison, to name a few.
'The Taj Apollo At Bunder' has been meticulously penned down by renowned and celebrated Mumbai-based historian and researcher Sharada Dwivedi and British writer and historian Charles Allen. The authors have spent over two decades conducting extensive and all-inclusive research of the history and milestones of the Taj. The book comprises 12 Chapters, and details on the 109 glorious years of the hotel.
The Taj Mahal Palace, Mumbai for more than half a century was the first clear landmark that could be seen from the seas as the ocean liners of the Peninsular and other shipping lines approached the Bombay Harbour. The Taj is more than hotel and a landmark. If the Taj Mahal in Agra represents the glories of the Mughals, The Taj in Mumbai stands for just those qualities that have made the city remarkable. In its founder, its standards, its role in philanthropy and charity, as a trysting place for lovers, a haven for film tycoons alike.
A large part of the Taj's appeal was, of course, its excellent and exotic food from kitchens manned for its first four decades by a series of French chefs who had all the access they needed to overseas ingredients. English maitres d'hôtel have been amplified. The concept of the visitor as sacred - atithi devo bhava - is a very ancient one in India. Taking pride in treating guests as if they were entering one's home lies at the heart of the Taj ethos, for that, in essence, is how every visitor is perceived. In a nutshell the book attempts to ensure the reader relives the ageless story of the Taj Mahal Palace.
Mr. Ratan Tata, Chairperson, Indian Hotels Company Ltd in his foreward says "A hotel becomes a legend because of its patrons who keep coming back and because of its people who provide the emotional connect for its patrons. The Taj is one such legend, its name synonymous with warm hospitality. It is a matter of satisfaction that the saga of Indian Hotels, in which the story of the Taj holds centres stage, has finally found expression in this extremely readable and enjoyable book."
Speaking at the occasion Mr. Raymond Bickson, MD and CEO, Indian Hotels Company Ltd said, "It is a proud moment that the epic book has been unveiled on the momentous occasion of the 110th year of inception of Indian Hotels Company Limited and 108th birthday of The Taj Mahal Palace, Mumbai. The iconic hotel is recognized as the epitome of history and heritage. This book has given us the opportunity to bring back the memories of grandeur of this magnificent hotel. Sharada and Charles have effortlessly fused the legendary chapters of history and tradition to create this masterpiece. We are happy to announce that all sales proceeds of the Taj at Apollo Bunder will be donated to the Taj Public Service Welfare Trust
In 1983 Charles Allen joined hands with fellow historian Sharada Dwivedi to research and write the best-selling Lives of the Indian Princes, subsequently filmed as Maharajas. As co-authors of the history of the Taj Mahal Palace, their research encompassed more than two hundred interviews and extended over more than two decades.
Charles Allen: Historian broadcaster and Indian-born traveller, Charles Allen began his professional career writing documentaries for BBC Radio, leading to his specialisation as an oral historian and the production of more than a dozen series for radio and television. His early published work includes: The Search for Shangri La, The Savage Wars of Peace, A Glimpse of the Burning Plain, Kipling's Kingdom, A mountain in Tibet, Tales From the South China Seas among others. His more recent works include: a biography of young Rudyard Kipling in India, Kipling Sahib: India and the Making of Rudyard Kipling (2007), God's Terrorists: the Wahabi Cult and the Hidden Roots of Modern Jihad (2006), The Buddha and the Sahibs: the Men Who Discovered India's Lost Religion (2002).
Sharada Dwivedi: Writer, researcher and publisher, Sharada Dwivedi writes on a variety of subjects including art, architecture, heritage and the traditions of cuisine. She is active with several conservation projects, has served on the Mumbai Heritage Conservation Committee and her publications include Bombay: The Cities Within (1995, 2001); Banganga: Sacred Tank (1996, 2006); Reach for the Stars: The Story of Blue Star Ltd. (1993, 2003) among others.
The milestones in the 108 year rich history of The Taj Mahal Palace, Mumbai can be experienced through a visually engaging timeline on the company's social media website:
"Taj Through The Years": An application that integrates video, audio, images, text, links, social media, location at https://apps.facebook.com/taj_journey/
"Diaries Of A Legend": Illustrious guests to share their fond memories of the hotel through a contest. The winner will get their own copy of the book "The Taj at Apollo Bunder!" at www.tajhotels.com/diariesofalegend
"TAJe-book": An e- book which captures the essence of the book, photographs and video bytes as the launch event unfolds at https://apps.facebook.com/taj_ebook_tmp/