Since time immemorial, India has been a land of diverse cultures and extravagant periods of history. However, after independence from the British rule, a lot of things changed for the existing royal kingdoms of the past. While some are being managed by the ASI, others are being privately handled by the existing royal families. The best part, a lot of them have been converted into luxury hotels for the common man. Go on, explore what it feels like to be a royal!
1. Umaid Bhawan Palace, Jodhpur
Built by Maharaja Umaid Singhji as a symbol of the cosmopolitan Jodhpur, Umaid Bhawan is one of India’s largest private hotels. It is believed that Umaid Singh, the then Maharaja of Jodhpur, started this venture in order to generate employment to the famine-stricken people of the state of Jodhpur in the early 1920s. Gaj Singh, Umaid Singh’s grandson, still resides here with the rest of the royal family.
Today, this 64-guestroom Indo–art deco marvel treats its guests with a plethora of experiences like Royal Butler Service, luxury dining, squash lessons by the Royal Trainer, lovely strolls in their beautiful English gardens and much more. Guests truly get to have a taste of how it feels to live the life of a king, with astounding views of the palace gardens and themed dinners that flaunt all the pomp and glory of the desert kingdom.
2. Taj Falaknuma, Hyderabad
Taj Falaknuma Palace was the royal residence of the Nizam of Hyderabad. The story of how he acquired it goes as such – Mehboob Ali Khan, the sixth Nizam of Hyderabad, was invited for a tour of the Falaknuma Palace by Nawab Vikar-ul-Umra, the Prime Minister of Hyderabad.
He offered the royal residence as a gift to the Nizam, but he, on the other hand, refused to accept it as a gift and paid a generous amount for it. However, in the 1950s due to poor maintenance, the palace started losing its grandeur. It was then the Taj group who acquired it and proceeded to renovate it thereby restoring its former glory. It was finally reopened as a luxury hotel in the year 2010.
During your stay, make use of the luxurious amenities offered, like indulging in the heavenly Jiva Spa or strolling through nature amidst the breathtaking Rajasthani Garden. Guests of Taj Falaknuma are welcomed to enjoy a pool and an on-site restaurant where you can treat yourself to delectable delicacies from fine Italian cuisine, pit-grilled feasts in the gardens, to Indian-Hyderabadi-inspired recipes and lots more.
3. Mysore Palace, Mysore
The Mysore Palace was originally built in the 14th century by the ruler of the Wadiyar dynasty. Today, the palace is managed by the Government of Karnataka. The construction of the Mysore Palace was started by Maharaja Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV and was then expanded by his son, Maharaja Jayachamaraja Wadiya, the last Maharaja of Mysore.
It is a spectacular example of Indo – Saracenic style of architecture which is a fitting blend of Hindu, Muslim, Rajput and Gothic styles. This architectural spectacle is the second most visited historical monument by tourists after the Taj Mahal (Agra).
Also known as the Amba Vilas, the Mysore Palace is renowned for its light and sound show and sparkling Dussehra celebrations. The place is open to the public for visits, even though the royal family continues to live in one of its sections till date.
4. City Palace, Jaipur
The City Palace was constructed between 1729-1732, in the Pink City of Jaipur by Sawai Jai Singh II, the ruler of Amer. He built the magnificent city palace after he shifted to Jaipur because of a water shortage problem. This heritage monument boasts of a blend of Mughal, European and Rajputana architecture.
The City Palace Jaipur is actually a huge complex and consists of pavilions, gardens, and holy shrines. Some common attractions of the place include the Mukut Mahal, the Shri Govind Dev Ji Temple, the Maharani’s mahal and the on-site Museum. Maharaja Sawai Padmanabh Singh has now hosted one of its luxury suites on Airbnb, however, the royal family still lives in the palace.
5. Taj Lake Palace, Udaipur
This majestic palace was first built in 1746 by the then Prince of Udaipur, Maharana Jagat Singh II (62nd successor to the royal dynasty of Mewar) of Udaipur, Rajasthan. In 1971, the Taj group of hotels took over the management of this luxurious summer palace, which was earlier known as Jag Niwas. Rising like a mirage from Lake Pichola, the Taj Lake Palace is Udaipur’s first luxury hotel. The Taj Lake Heritage hotel has also been voted as the most romantic hotel in India and in the world.
It offers guests the pleasures of India’s bygone princely era with its many amenities like a vintage car ride to the charming city of Udaipur, royal butlers and a taste of traditional Mewari cuisine. The hotel’s rooftop Bhairo restaurant even serves contemporary European cuisine with a breathtaking landscape by the lake.
6. Jai Vilas Palace, Gwalior
The Jai Vilas Palace, popularly known as the Jai Vilas Mahal is situated in Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh. It was built by Jayajirao Scindia, the Maharaja of the Maratha Scindia Dynasty as a grand gesture to welcome King Edward VII, the then Prince of Wales in the 19th century. The construction cost a whopping INR 1 crore, which was an extravagant affair during that period.
The place also has an extensive library, a museum with a collection of swords from the times of Shah Jahan and Aurangzeb, and the original shield that belonged to freedom fighter Rani Laxmibai. It also houses the renowned Chitrangada Raje Art Gallery.
7. Laxmi Vilas Palace, Vadodara
Built in 1890 by Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad III, the Laxmi Vilas Palace is one of the most majestic structures in India. The palace construction costs mounted up to ₹27 lakhs at that time. Four times bigger than the Buckingham Palace of the UK, the striking Laxmi Vilas took nearly twelve years to complete. It is built in the Indo-Saracenic style which is an exquisite blend of Hindu, Gothic and Mughal architectural forms. They also have a museum which was initially started as a school for the royal children.
Today, it is home to an extraordinary collection of paintings by illustrious artist Raja Ravi Verma and several other artefacts gathered from all around the globe. What is exciting is the inclusion of an excellent audio tour and free drinks and snacks included in the ticket price!
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