Connemara Hotel, a 125 year old heritage building steeped in history

Connemara htel, Chennai

The heritage building Taj Connemara (now Vivanta by Taj) located at the intersection of  Binny Road, off Anna Salai, abutting the Spencer Plaza, is  one of the most prominent landmarks of Chennai. Though it turns 127 years old come November 27, actually, Its history is 200 years old. That its hotel tradition goes as far back as 125 years bears testimony to the hotel's old charm, colonial ambiance and its outstanding hotel services to the visitors to the city.
Vivanta by Taj, Chennai ripAdvisor
Once it was the impressive House of the Arcot Nawab that was  sold to  John Binny who built a garden house there.  As to its name Connemara, the information is vague whether it was named
 after the Governor of Madras Residency Lord
Connemara (Robert Bruce, the Baron of Connemara in Ireland;1880-1890). Considering the facts that the Prince of Arcot Nawab Muhammud Munnawwar Khan Bhadur was close to the Governor and  used to throw lavish parties to Lord and lady Connemara suggest  the close relationship the Nawab had with Gov. Connemara. Yet another interesting fact is Mrs. Connemara (Lady Susan Georgiana Broun-Ramsay, eldest daughter of the 1st Marquess of Dalhousie (Doctrine of Lapse fame) who was the Governor-General of India)

Lord Connemara.
is beloved to have stayed in the hotel for about a year before leaving for England where she sought divorce from her discreditable husband, citing infidelity.
Lord Connemara with the Nawab of Arcot  Dream Of A City
 According to Chennai's historian  S. Muthaiah, Lord Connemara had a particular  liking for pretty young girls and his sexual overtures went overboard that created a chasm between him and his wife.

John Binny bought the building in 1799 and later sold it to Somasundara Mudaliar. in 1854 Rathnavaloo Mudaliar established the Imperial Hotel and later Mudaliar brothers (Kumaraguru Mudelly and Chokkalinga Mudelly) became the owners who renamed it as Albany in 1886 and in 1890, it became Connemara Hotel. The 9 acre property changed hands and now the owner of Spencer & Co Oakshatt in 1891 took over the property. Out of 9 acres, 4.37 acres were allotted for the construction of the most popular department store with a built-up area of 18000 sq. feet, the largest one in Asia then. No body could miss this impressive European-styled building on Mount Road. Connemara in 1919 came under 
the control of Spencer & Co. In the early 1930s, 
it underwent major renovation work and in 
1937 it sported an art deco look and fitted with  air-conditioning apparatus, delivering cool refreshing air. In those days in the late 1930s, the tariff  for single occupancy with breakfast is just Rs.10.00 and Rs, 17.00 for room plus full day meals, much lower than today's cup of coffee or tea. Since 1974, the Connemara Hotel had been managed by  the Spencer & Co. After the fire mishap in 1981 the hotel along with two other hotels came under the management of the Tata group's subsidiary Indian Hotels Co. Ltd in 1984. The name changed to Taj Connemara. Again after yet another long  major renovation work, with better look, the oldest hotel in Chennai emerged as Vivanta Taj, a stylish name with a spirited appeal, 

The Taj Group renovated the heritage hotel without disturbing its heritage values or marring the good old charm.

 01. Retention of a huge portrait of Lord Connemara with  IV Prince of Arcot Munnawwar Khan Bhadur.

02. The lounge in the heritage building carries the name of Lady Connemara.

03. Retention of  stone pillars in the hotel's Raintree pathway and the wooden carvings in the grand staircase wall. They   date back to the 16th 
and 17th centuries and are from old temples of Mahabalipuram.

04. A grand piano in the lobby made in 1922.  In the post-war period it was  played in the ballroom in the evenings.  Still it is in good condition.
04. The Nagavelli well located in the hotel, never goes dry even during hot  summer season, unlike other wells in the city!!

This heritage hotel still charms the visitors with old world elegance and  modern-day services.