Everyone wants a house, but Mukesh Ambani has turned his in Mumbai into an unofficial 8th Wonder of the World. On November 25, at short notice, and unknown to Mumbai’s quick-on-the-news paparazzi, the Ambanis threw a house-warming party at Antilia on the Altamount Road. Close friends numbered around 80, but that’s just a fraction of what the billion-dollar home can accommodate, if their wealthy and powerful owners so desire.



In many ways, the house, all of 27 storeys, is a statement of where India stands today. It would have been unthinkable for a businessman to construct something like this in the not-so-heady days of the Licence Raj, even if he had the wealth. Too many agencies, and too much official machinery and red-tape would undoubtedly have used their collective inventiveness to stall such a colossal project. No chief minister of that era could ever have accepted and reconciled to an idea that his official bungalow would no longer remain the numero uno address in town, one that Antilia has undoubtedly turned into today in India’s financial capital. But India has changed, and so has the thinking of the 21st century.

For modern India, slowly freeing itself from the jaws of bureaucracy, leaping to rub shoulders with the world’s most powerful nations, buying out global companies and making statements of intent every passing day, this is yet another standout achievement. There will be those who would see wastage in the opulence, but that would be like missing the forest for the trees. This building, the most expensive one owned by any individual on the planet, is a statement of India’s passage from the Rising to the Risen, from the Emerging to the Emerged. It is a journey into the times when India once was prosperous and at the centre of the world’s attention, a direction it is no doubt headed in once again. It is also not just a staggering edifice (designed by Chicagoan firm Perkins and Will) built on cantilevers that Frank Lloyd Wright would have been proud of, but a symbol of India’s ascending position in the world order.


Briefly, overlooking, the Arabian Sea on all four sides, with no competing structure nearby, Antilia has six floors dedicated for car parking with a separate facility for car-servicing, a theatre to beat others in terms of technological adventure, a can’t-keep-your-eyes-off swimming pool, a health centre where leisure is guaranteed, a slew of smooth and easy elevators, and a bevy of luxurious lounges. There is much glass, and foliage everywhere, and the view all around is simply breathtaking.

The son of the East has risen. A statement has been made.


TRADITIONAL LOUNGE: One of several lounges that offer guests a quiet escape BALLROOM: The crystal chandeliers at this place will take up 80 per cent of the ceiling
CLOAKROOM: Lavish Western features with distinct Indian elements make this standout LOUNGE II: Yet another lounge
LOBBY: Nine elevators dot the lobby floor

December 2010

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