Registered with the Registrar of Newspapers for India under R.N.I 53640/91

Vol. XXX No. 5 June 16-30, 2020

Heritage Watch

by S. Muthiah, published by the Taj Connemara, 2006

The Connemara Hotel

All pics courtesy – A Tradition of Madras that is Chennai, the Taj Connemara

Most cities of colonial origin/growth will have at least one hotel that was witness to much of their history. Chennai may have lost D’Angelis but it still takes pride in its Connemara, now managed by the Taj Group of Hotels.

Beginning life as the Imperial under Triplicane Ratnavelu Mudaliar in 1854, it became the Albany in 1886 when it was leased to P. Kumaraguru Mudali and P. Chokkalinga Mudali. It shot to fame in the 1890s when Lady Connemara, estranged wife of the Governor of Madras spent time here before embarking for England where she filed divorce proceedings. The hotel was renamed Connemara thereafter. In 1897 it passed into the hands of Spencer & Co. Our OLD, is a photo of the premises taken in 1896.

By 1934, with art deco being all the rage, the hotel was extensively remodeled, with architects Jackson and Barker giving it the present façade. Our NOT SO NEW shows the result, completed in 1937.

Other extensions, done by the noted architect Geoffrey Bawa left the old building unchanged. From 1984, the hotel came under Taj management and in 1995 prefixed Taj to its name. Rebranded in 2010 as part of the Vivanta chain of the Taj group, it closed for extensive renovation in 2016 and emerged as a Taj hotel once again, the Taj Connemara, in 2018.

Recognised by the High Court of Madras as a heritage building of Grade 2a – a structure of high local importance – it is in an excellent state of preservation. Our NEW, taken in 2006, shows the current façade.

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