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Part of Taj hotel to reopen before Christmas

  • Story Highlights
  • Only the 200-plus rooms in the tower will open on December 21
  • Accommodation in in the older palace section will not be ready until next year
  • Carpets burned, many bullet marks on marble and ceilings, spokesman says
  • More than 160 people were slain in the three-day attack that began in late November
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By Tom Watkins CNN
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(CNN) -- The Taj Mahal Palace & Tower, the landmark hotel that withstood three days of bombings, grenade blasts, gunfire and fires when a group of terrorists seized it last month, is slated to reopen many of its rooms before Christmas.

People hold a demonstration of solidarity outside the Taj hotel on Saturday.

"We dedicate our reopening to the city of Mumbai as affirmation of the values of courage, resilience and dignity," said Raymond Bickson, managing director and CEO of The Indian Hotels Company Limited.

The reopening will take place December 21 at 7 p.m.

"To reopen the Taj with such speed but with no loss of attention to details shows our resolve to commemorate all the innocent and brave people who lost their lives during the terrorist attacks," he said in a written statement. "In their honor, the Taj will shine again in all its brilliance."

A spokesman for the 565-room hotel, who would not identify himself, told CNN that only the 200-plus rooms in the tower -- which was built in 1973 -- would open on December 21; those in the older palace section will not be ready for occupancy until some time next year.

"There was a lot of damage in the palace wing," he said, citing carpets that had burned. "The extremists had an open fire in the hotel" and left "a lot of bullet marks on the marble and the ceilings."

But he said the old section's 105-year-old stone structure was "completely safe."

He added that security arrangements in and around the hotel would be "really strengthened."

A hotel operator said rooms for the night of December 21 were going for $250 to $373, depending on the view.

The hotel combines Moorish, Oriental and Florentine styles and offers panoramic views of the Arabian Sea. It has vaulted alabaster ceilings, onyx columns, hand-woven silk carpets, crystal chandeliers and collections of art and furniture.

More than 160 people, including a number of the hotel's employees, were killed in the three-day attack that began November 26 and targeted 10 sites, including two luxury hotels, the train station and other landmarks. Only one of the 10 suspects in the attacks has survived.

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