The Taj Mahal Houseboat
April, 2023 Update: With help from the local Sausalito divers from Parker Diving Service, the Taj Mahal was successfully raised up to the surface on April 10, the water inside was pumped out and the boat’s integrity was (at least for the moment) stabilized. The video below shows the process — not surprisingly, it includes some salty language! Her long-term fate, however, is still being evaluated.
March, 2023 Update: During the bizarre “bomb cyclone” rain and windstorm of March 21, 2023, the Taj Mahal houseboat had two large windows (as seen in the video at the top of the page) that were shattered by wave action just above the water line. (The local rumor that “someone left a window open” is nonsense.) The houseboat started taking on water, and local news media have reported that with 4 feet (1 meter) of water inside the boat will need to be demolished. There are stories around town of people wanting to raise money, organize expert volunteers etc. to save it, but no concrete plans have yet emerged. We’ll add updates as things become more clear.
Insiders Tip: The Taj Mahal houseboat is now a private residence. If you approach it on the dock or by boat please be considerate of its residents and their neighbors, some of whom may be nurses and others who work odd shifts and may be asleep during the day.
One of the two most famous of the Sausalito houseboats, the “Taj Majal”, gets its name because it’s a miniature version of the Taj Mahal in India. For most of the last four decades it’s been a private home, although it was used as a bed and breakfast inn for a few years.
The Taj Mahal houseboat was built by land developer turned winery and vineyard entrepreneur Bill Harlan in the mid-1970’s after he visited India and was fascinated by its architecture. With travertine marble floors, a wine cellar (logically enough), a top-level solarium for meditation, a sauna and a secret elevator, the houseboat’s cost in 1970’s dollars was over $2,000,000, which would be over $10,000,000 today.
There are reports that the houseboat was sold by Harlan in 1995 for as little as $850,000, although in a recent interview Harlan said he retained ownership until 2007.
Insiders Tip: Websites that list the Taj Mahal houseboat as an inn are (wildly) out of date. People also sometimes confuse the Taj Mahal with Forbes Island.
The Taj Mahal houseboat is not in the northern Sausalito area where you’ll find the other houseboats, but is moored at the end of Johnson St. in Sausalito, just north of downtown. You can walk the few blocks north from the Ferry pier or park near the intersection of Bridgeway and Johnson (see map below).
As you walk towards the Bay on Johnson St. from Bridgeway, bear slightly to your right so you enter the City parking lot. You’ll see a wide wooden pier leading out into the Bay in front of you, which is open to the public. You’ll immediately see the Taj Mahal moored at the far end of the pier. A few other houseboats will be anchored to your left.
Walk out on the pier to where the wooden walkway turns to the right, and make the right turn. In a few feet you’ll come to a metal gangplank on your left. This is a good spot for taking photos of this side of the Taj Mahal houseboat. The home is not open for visits by the public, and please respect peoples’ privacy whenever visiting the docks.
The satellite image below shows the Taj Mahal moored at the end of the pier. Below it is a map to the intersection of Bridgeway and Johnson where you can park. Both Google Maps can be zoomed and scrolled using the buttons.