he Taj Mahal Palace hotel resort was commissioned by Tata and first opened its doors to guests on December 16, 1903.It is widely believed that Tata decided to build the luxurious hotel 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'. However, this story has been challenged by some commentators that suggest that Jamsedji Tata was unlikely to have been concerned with 'revenge' against his British adversaries. Instead they suggest that the Taj was built at the urging of editor of the Times of India who felt a hotel "worthy of Bombay" was needed.
The original Indian architects were Sitaram Khanderao Vaidya and D. N. Mirza, but the project was completed by an English engineer W. A. Chambers. The cost of construction was £250000 (£127 million today). During World War I, the hotel was converted into a 600-bed hospital. The dome of the hotel is made from the same steel as used in the Eiffel Tower. Jamsedji Tata imported the same steel during that time. The hotel was the first in India to install and operate a steam elevator.
The side of the hotel seen from the harbour is actually its rear. The front faces away to the west. There is a widespread misconception that the architects' building plans were confused by the builder so that he built it facing away from the harbor. This is not true, as the hotel was deliberately built facing inland, possibly because the horse carriages in which guests came to the hotel could more easily approach the hotel from the city. The carriages were then taken to Wellington Mews. Four decades ago, the old front was closed off, and since then, access has been made through the harbor-side entrance.