The Taj West End has lovingly preserved buildings from the 19th Century
If you have no idea what Bangalore looked like during a gentler, elegant era not too long ago, just take a stroll in one of the best maintained properties in the city: the Taj West End.
No wonder the Taj, commemorating 125 years of its existence, has a Heritage Walk for its guests to showcase how its colonial history has segued into modern day luxury and hospitality. Walking through the literal and metaphoric corridors of the hotel’s history, you pass by the majestic red post box —the oldest in Bangalore — that is still in use, a pleasant surprise in today’s e-world. You then pause to admire the Art Corridor, where some of the oldest images of the Taj and best contemporary art flank the walls.
The old rain tree
Then you make your way to the famed rain tree, which has been standing on the Taj’s grounds even before the hotel’s existence. Majestic due to its sheer size and age — a venerable 164 years old — the magnificent foliage is serious competition to the Taj’s sumptuousness.
However, this humbling is short-lived, as you make your way up the 100-year-old staircase to the grand Terrace Garden. Here, in Taj’s signature style, luxury coalesces with green beauty.
Nestled among trees, you catch a glimpse of the 1905 block, one of the oldest set rooms that has become part of the city’s heritage buildings. And then there’s the 1887 block, the oldest in the hotel. Untouched since it was first built during the Raj era, it is a testament to the Taj’s effort in preserving its original colonial beginnings.
Amid all that colonial ambience, India makes its presence felt in the Muneshwara Temple, said to bring good luck to anyone who worships here.
The walk concludes at the Prince of Wales Lawn, named to commemorate the royal personage’s stay at the hotel in 1962.
A perfect way to cap the walk is by having high tea, a colonial tradition the Taj has revived. Featuring an Anglo-Indian menu to cater to an Indian palate, the high tea is truly an art to experience, with three rows of tastefully arranged and sumptuous sweets and savouries.
How the eventful journey began
Exactly 125 years ago, a British woman named Mrs. Bronson started a boarding house with 10 beds. As the popularity of Bangalore’s first hotel grew, it began to expand. In 1912, the place changed hands, with Spencer’s buying it for a princely Rs.4,000. Decades later, in 1984, it was sold again, to the management of what is now the Taj West End.
Today, it houses 117 rooms on a sprawling 20 acres. These cottagesare fitted state-of-the-art luxury, boasting amenities such as WiFi, plasma screen TVs, 24-hour butler service and private balconies among other sybaritic comforts.