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Taj, Maurya in battle over heads of state

Last updated on: March 05, 2006 20:18 IST

Delhi's two leading hotels Maurya Sheraton and Taj Mahal are in for an unnoticed race about who will have more leading names as their guests to stay in their best suite. The battle of supermacy is keen and the pendulum swings from one end to the other.

By hosting US President George W Bush during his official visit in India, Maurya had gained an upper edge over its rival and its officials did not get tired of telling the media how they had been preparing for the presidential visit for last one month or so.

"We had King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia staying with us in January 2006 and Bill Clinton also stayed with us when he visited India in 2000. So we have hosted two US presidents as our guests," claimed a senior official of the hotel.

Australian Prime Minister John Howard will be staying at the Taj Mahal in New Delhi during his visit to India that begins Sunday night.

Incidentally, both Taj and Maurya have named their VIP suite as Grand Presidential Suite. The Taj Mahal has been patronised by renowned world leaders, royalty and heads of states.

"Grand Presidential Suite at the Taj Mahal has welcomed various international dignitaries in grand regalia and in the last one year has been home to British Prime Minister Tony Blair, his wife Cherie Blair, Bill Gates, Pakistan President General Pervez Musharraf, Japanese Premier Junichiro Koizumi and Israeli Premier Ariel Sharon. Closing in on the most recent visit of French President Jacques Chirac," a hotel press release said.

A veritable selection of premium Australian wines such as Shiraz Astralis, Clarandon Hills and Cabernet Sauvignon Leeuvin Estate are on offer, which marry with fine Indian cuisine.

Signature dishes, including grilled sole on a bed of emmenthal mash wilted greens and tomato olive salsa; pot roast Australian lamb with pine nut mint, grilled polenta and vegetables on a bed of mushroom pilaf, kareli roganjosh, macchli ka salan, dal haveli, tomato, aubergine and mozzarella towers with tarragon pimento coulis and many other mouth watering dishes are being prepared for the distinguished guest.

The Australian prime minister's security concerns are not as high as that of US President George Bush, but keeping in mind that Australia had sent its forces to Iraq, he is being provided with adequate security cover that is given to visiting heads of the state.

Onkar Singh in New Delhi