Taj Veteran K. Mohanchandran Takes Charge as IHCL's Area Director for Udaipur and Jodhpur

From John Steinbeck, West African music and fine wine, to personal involvement in a home for children of parents living with leprosy, Mohanchandran is a well-travelled man of varied interests.

I FIRST met K. Mohanchandran some five years back when he was the General Manager of Taj Bengal and I was very impressed by the way he negotiated the stiff excise laws of Kolkata to organise a global showcase of wines -- the International Vine and Food Experience (the word 'vine' was used deliberately to fulfil the legal requirement of not using 'wine' in the title of an event!) -- with two international Masters of Wine and the who's who of the wine business in attendance (and Champagne Mumm being poured like water!). The event became a template for other Taj hotels to follow.

We bonded because he grew up in Safdarjung Enclave, my home neighbourhood in New Delhi, and studied at St Mary's School, which I can never miss whenever I leave my colony or come back to it. His love for history, his passion for food, and his personal commitment to Udayan, the home and school set up by Father James Steven for children of people living with leprosy in Kolkata, also got us talking a lot.

Mohan, a name he's better known by, struck me as being a taller, leaner version of Major S.S.H. Rahman, the man who created ITC Hotels. I also realised later that this 30-year Taj veteran has the reputation of being a nurturer of talent -- three of his Taj Bengal juniors -- Manu Sharma, Vinod Pandey and Vikas Parimoo -- became general managers under his watch.

From Taj Bengal, Mohan went to Hyderabad as the Director of Operations, GVK Hotels, which put him in charge, among other hotels, of Taj Krishna and the Falaknuma Palace, and now he's back to the hotel that has always been dear to him, but in a much more elevated capacity.

He's the new General Manager of the Lake Palace, Udaipur, one of India's most scenic hotels which attained international stardom with the James Bond film Octopussy (starring Roger Moore, Kabir Bedi and Vijay Amritraj), and as Area Director-Udaipur and Jodhpur, he will also oversee the operations and business of the iconic Umaid Bhawan Palace and Taj Hari Mahal, Jodhpur, and the Taj Aravali Resort & Spa, Udaipur.

Having started his career as a management trainee in 1989, when he was freshly out of IHM-Pusa, Mohan has worked at multiple locations with the Taj Group, including Chennai, Aurangabad, New Delhi, Dubai, Mumbai, Udaipur, Sydney (at Blue), and of course, Kolkata and Hyderabad. But, as he once said in a media interview in Kolkata, the Lake Palace sitting on the serene waters of the Pichola is his top favourite among the hotels he has worked in.

When he's not running hotels, Mohan unwinds by reading John Steinbeck or anything that is popular at the moment, or digging the local delicacies of the city he's posted at, or listening to music, his interest ranging from the classical to the contemporary, with a special place in his collection for West African music. He's truly a well-travelled man with varied interests -- and wherever he has gone, he has managed to leave behind an army of friends and admirers.


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