Antilia – The Most Expensive House in the World

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If you think property prices in Mumbai have hiked to an extent where they have become unbearable, just wait till you hear about the kind of money some people do spend on their homes right in the heart of the commercial capital of India.

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Antilia is the twenty seven floored palatial mansion that looms over the skyline of South Mumbai reminding everyone where the richest man – the one and only chairman of the Reliance industries, Mukesh Ambani – in India lives. A full time workforce of six hundred people is employed to maintain the residence, which is reportedly, the most expensive residence in the world, even though that this man isn’t the richest man in the world. It does kind of put his priorities into perspective however, doesn’t it?

 

The tower was designed by Chicago based architects, and the Australia based construction company, Leighton Holdings began to construct it. It was designed to survive an 8 Richter scale earthquake, which is quite an amazing feat, because from the outside, the house looks like it could collapse at any point.

Antilia, supposedly named after the mythical Atlantic island of Antilia, sits on Mumbai’s Tony Altamount Road, which contrary to media reports, is not a slum but one of the most expensive addresses in the world, and allegedly cost between 1 and 2 billion USD to build. Talk about ostentation, huh?

As if that wasn’t enough to stop you in your tracks, the residence, which in its actuality has only 27 floors, consists of some floors which are double, and even triple heighted, and generally gives off the impression of being a 50 to 60-storeyed building. The total height of the building is 570ft, which means other buildings of similar height may actually have as many as 60 floors!

Six floors of the residence are specifically allotted to their cars. Their multi-storey garage houses the 168 cars owned by the family of six. Yes, you read that right. 168 cars for a family of 6. So that means about 28 cars for each member of the family? Assuming of course that they don’t give any of them to the butler(s). That does seem odd however, since you can only use only car at a time, so maybe they’ve each got one car for every day of the month?

Since they have so many cars, the family even decided to have their own car service centre, which is located on the 7th floor of the tower. The house also has three helipads, in case guests prefer to arrive by air, and a special air space floor which works as a control centre for the helicopters that arrive

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The outward architecture of the building itself is a little odd. Granted, it looms over the Mumbai skyline and has the most beautiful and most expensive interiors; its exterior cannot be rewarded the term appealing. It looks like a tower of Jenga blocks after the first couple of rounds of the game.

The lobby of this legendary building itself has 9 elevators. These elevators are extremely fast and work on various floors. They are different elevators for the guests, the family, and so on.

The family has their own version of “Snow World” inside their house, which they call the “ice room” to experience winters indoors and easily escaping the hot, sultry that Mumbai bears down upon its residents. Apparently belonging to the rich and the way-too-rich-to-be-good gives them the ability to defy one of nature’s earlier levellers – the weather.

There is also a spa, terraced gardens and a temple in which the family prays regularly. A pool and gym, which is also present in the building seems almost akin to ordinary in a tower of this significant size and value. To add to the grandeur of the building, it even has a ballroom, guest suites and its own theatre that seats 50 people. There is even a garden on the roof of the theatre. Given below is the blueprint of this theatre.

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Where’s the need for PVR when u belong to the Ambani family, eh?

The two design motifs for the tower, as told by Neeta Ambani to Vanity Fair, are the sun and the lotus. These two elements are repeated throughout the mansion, and skilfully designed by artisan and interior designers, in all sorts of rare materials like crystal, marble and mother of pearl.

The private residence of the family is perched right on top of the tower, and spans the four topmost floors. They chose to live right at the top, because as Mrs. Ambani puts it, they wanted the sunlight and the panoramic view of the rest of Mumbai and the Arabian Sea. Unlike most of the world’s wealthiest families, Antilia is the sole residence of the Ambani family.

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The Ambanis are vegetarians and teetotallers, and only serve wine during cocktail parties. All the other meals served at the Antilia are vegetarian and alcohol-free.

Despite the 600 member staff that is employed in the mansion, Neeta Ambani says that the children, two of whom are currently away at college in the USA, are still made to clean their own rooms when they are home.

That really is some way of instilling humility in the heirs and heiress of the Reliance Empire.

Like any ostentatious settlement, Antilia too has had its fair share of controversies and opposition, delving into corruption and scandals that involves many different people and various parties.

The land upon which the Antilia was constructed belonged to an orphanage called Currimbhoy Ebrahim Khoja Yateemkhana and they sold the land to Antilia Commercial Pvt. Ltd to educate the underprivileged Khoja children for Rs. 21.05 crore. The actual market value of the land in question at the time was at least Rs. 150 crore.

Both, revenue department of the Maharashtra government and the Waqf minister Nawab Malik were against the sale of this land. The Allahabad government also opposed the sale of the land questioning the authority under which the land had been sold. However, constructed it does stand, and Mukesh Ambani seems to be short 16 lakh rupees more because of it. Apparently, some corruption did take place to make Antilia more than just a rich man’s big dream.

Both, the Indian Navy and the Environment Ministry were against the construction or the existence of helipads on a Mumbai residence because they are neither safe nor are they eco-friendly, and yet, today they stand.

Mukesh Ambani, the wealthiest man in India certainly splurged while building a palace for himself and his family which was no doubt, enriched by both comfort, and flamboyance and did also, in the process, get caught in a few controversies that would be a cause to be looked down upon.

It can be pondered upon how practical it really is for the billionaire to spend his money on a twenty seven storey building that could be anything up to sixty floors in reality and wouldn’t it be better off spent in donating to a worthy cause or a charity of some sort? It would’ve beyond any doubt improved his public image had he taken a page from Bill Gates’ book. He however, spent it on a billion dollar home giving society even more cause to look down upon him.

But I guess with a multi-billion dollar, 27-storeyed home, it would be difficult for anyone to look down on him huh?

Author: Namrata Nesarikar

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