Koh-I-Noor literally translates to a mountain of light and it was the name given to a very large oval diamond mined at the Golkonda mines on the Deccan plateau of India weighing over 108.8 carats. The diamond was long looted by the British and sits in the Queens elegant crown but back in the roots of its origin, the famed hotel chain ITC has named its newest addition in Hyderabad, the ITC Kohenur alluding to the mountain of light. This one though not only is a mountain of light but it also offers spectacular views of modern Hyderabad, the city whose gems are now data, skills, panache and willingness to embrace the new and the mighty, an open mind. Pearls and diamonds don’t shine as bright as the newest locales of Hyderabad do. This city has always been a gem, holding precious jewels not just under the soil but also uncanny and precious characters over the soil. The Nizams for that matter, with their eclectic choices and even eccentric ventures. A trip down the memory lane of this city will definitely take your heart away.
The Kohenur celebrates this city through paraphernalia on the walls, the bidri work on the columns, bevelled and faceted mirror work on the ceiling and enthralling art at every turn. It is poetic and magnificent with a generous dash of sustainability but mostly a time of delight. The dazzling lobby for one features art inspired by local finds and also houses a singer rendering some interesting notes as life happens in the lobby. The hotel talks of responsible luxury, employing radiation harmonisers, supporting local crafts, alluding to cultural pride, but it also boasts of state of the art air conditioning, expensive materials, neatly finished interiors, global architects, foreign interior designers and that takes away a lot of merit it talks of. I ask again, like many Indian architects and interior designers do, as many Indians in the creative industry do, as many business leaders in the country do, why do we need someone non-Indian to help us interpret our culture or even worse help us celebrate our culture. The more laudable thing for ITC to do would have been to employ Indian designers, Indian architects, if they can’t find what they want then groom their own like their competitors do. Why can’t LEED include something on the lines of local designers and saving several carbon points by avoiding flying designers and teams from halfway across the world. For that itself and many other things I’d like to pull up LEED today. I believe they try to make things more sustainable by not turning into literal tree huggers but there has got to be a made-in-India element to this one, otherwise it’s completely defeating the purpose.
Here’s a takeaway, know that we are diamonds, maybe rough and unpolished but diamonds nevertheless. Even if we prefer Yi Jing over Kebabs and Kurries or Ottimo over Dum Pukht, we are enjoying foreign finds But if we lauding to the merit of the local and celebrating Indianness may we just as well make sure a it’s Indian, literally. For interpretation and fallacy we have the Westins and the Novotels to work their charm. I’d expect better from a home grown luxury hotel chain, ITC for sure. And well maybe then they’d shine bright like a diamond.