The Taj Mahal Palace hotel resort was commissioned by Jamsetji Tata and first opened its doors to guests on December 16, 1903.
Tata allegedly 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'.
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 421 million Rupees.
During the World War I, the hotel was converted into a 600-bed hospital.
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 rather than to the harbor. This was probably a deliberate snub to the British king by Jamsedji Tata due to nationalist feelings.
Some people believe that the front of the hotel had to face inland because the horse carriages, in which guests came to the hotel, could easily approach the hotel from the city. The carriages were then taken to Wellington Mews.
Five decades ago, the old front was closed off, and access is since then through the seaside (former rear).
There used to be a Green's Hotel at the Apollo Bunder, which was purchased by the Taj Mahal Hotel. It was at the Green's Hotel, that a small group of pro-Indian Goans (largely employees of the Indian state and communists) assembled and formed the Goan Liberation Council demanding that Portugal cede Goa to India, in the 1950s.
This was done at the instigation of Jawaharlal Nehru, and funded by the Kamani Group of Companies. In 1973, Green's hotel was demolished and the present Tower wing was constructed in its place.