Antilla, the latest in tourists' ‘must-see' list

Priya Sheth Mumbai | Updated on July 14, 2011

Antilia, the luxe 27-storey home of India's richest person Mukesh Ambani in south Mumbai.   -  PAUL NORONHA

“Take a long shot of us from here. Antilla should come in the background,” says a tourist from China, handing over his camera to a passer-by, after deciding on the perfect spot on Peddar Road to take the picture.

Gone are the days when tourists came to Mumbai to see the conventional sites — the Gateway of India, the Hanging Garden and Marine Drive. Bollywood tourism also seems to be passé. It is the 27-storey Ambani high-rise overlooking bustling Peddar Road in South Mumbai that is the new addition to the tourist travel itinerary.

Bombay Darshan pack

Standing at a staggering 550 feet, Antilla seems to be a magnet for several tourists packed into ‘Bombay Darshan' buses that slow down on the traffic-clogged arterial road, allowing passengers to see the house of India's richest man, Mukesh Ambani.

Although not officially listed a Mumbai tourist attraction as yet, Antilla has found its way into individual ‘must-see' diaries of local and international travellers.

Tourists are instructed to keep their cameras on stand-by mode, 10 minutes before they enter Peddar Road, so that they can click the “tourist point” on “running mode”. “Now,” the tour guide blows his whistle, the bus slows down. With three heads peering out of each window, tourists strain their necks to look at the Ambani skyscraper for a fleeting moment.

While some tourists merely stare awe-struck at the billion-dollar residence, others are busy counting the floors, taking photographs and cheering.

“Nowadays, at least 10-15 tourists ask me to show them the Ambani building. It is visible from Mahalaxmi and Peddar Road. As we can't stop on the road, we show them the building from the bus only,” said Ganesh Krishnamarathe, tour guide, Maharaja Tours and Travels. “Many Reliance employees working in their call centres and mobile stations, want to see where their boss lives and how,” he added.

And it's not just a land attraction, but can be viewed from the sea too, as travel operator City Link's Abul Lateef points out: “We take tourists for boating to Gateway of India. Antilla is visible from there and many tourists take photographs from there also. We also point out the building when we pass Peddar Road.”

Best-view spot

For those who can afford to hire tourist taxis, the drive is peppered with well-versed narratives on the origins and floor-wise details of Antilla, as taxi drivers stop at the best viewing spot on Peddar Road and continue with animated discussions on the extravagance of the house.

Wearing hats and geared with a pair of binoculars and a printed graphic-representation of the building, tourists are sometimes seen standing and staring at the building, guessing what is on each floor. Online guides to the building are also available. Some outlines say that Antilla has a health centre, theatre, a helipad, ballrooms and the like. While the more elite tourists comment on the international architecture and construction, for the simpletons it's another Taj Mahal.

For locals in the neighbourhood, Antilla is attracting more than just tourists, their domestic-help is also in demand!!

Hoping to make a handsome amount and get a short-cut to fame, domestic help from the near-by Peddar Road, Altamount Road and Breach Candy areas are said to be making a beeline to Antilla.

“There are around 600 servants in Antilla. Jobs are assigned according to the age of the servants. The older ones do all the folding and dusting in the building,” said a house-help who works at Antilla, but did not wish to be named. “Each servant has to work eight hours a day and gets paid Rs 6,000–6,500 a month,” he added.

As a result, residents in the neighbourhood are forced to pay more to retain help. Part-time wages which used to be around Rs 2,000 have become Rs 2,500–3,000 now, lamented a resident of Peddar Road.

Traffic-stopper, head turner or land-mark skewing real-estate and other ground dynamics — Antilla certainly seems to be getting the green-light from tourists, the local rumblings notwithstanding.

Published on July 14, 2011

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