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India’s wealthy trove of cultural heritage, history and architecture makes it a fascinating tourist destination. And, the glory of its rich past is still alive and cherished in the form of beautiful palaces that were created by the erstwhile Maharajas, Kings and Nizams, who once lived here. Discover the most stunning royal palaces in India that provide an unprecedented glimpse into the opulent era as well as the social and cultural facets of the regal life.
Perched on Chittar Hill overlooking the blue city of Jodhpur, the Umaid Bhawan Palace was completed in 1943. This grand edifice is cherished for its stunning exterior and interior that features elements of Indo-Saracenic, Western Art Deco and Classical revival architectural styles. Constructed on an area of 26 acres, it is one of the largest private residences in the world, featuring 347 rooms. Currently, it is owned by Maharaja Gaj Singh, and also houses a museum that features stuffed leopards exhibits, classic cars that were used by the Maharajas, a vast collection of clocks in different shapes and sizes, photographs and memorabilia. A part of the palace (about 64 rooms) is converted into the heritage hotel that is managed by Taj Hotels. This palace is a testament to the Indian royal heritage!
Built in the 16th-century, the City Palace is a hilltop palace that offers a panoramic view of Udaipur. With a blend of architectural styles of Mughal and Rajasthani, this majestic structure is nestled along the Aravali ranges and faces the Lake Pichola in the front. It houses an array of palaces, temples and lakes within its complex. The interiors are stunning with delicate mirror-work, wall paintings, murals, intricate marble-work, silver work and an infinity edge pool that stretches along an array of rooms. Today, this edifice is a popular tourist spot, offering an insight into the royal kingdom of the Mewar dynasty. It remains open all week, from 9:30am to 5:30pm.
City Palace, Udaipur, Rajasthan, India, +91 0294 241 9021
Spreading across 28.4 acres, the Jai Vilas Mahal belonged to the Maharaja of Gwalior, Jayajirao Scindia. Established in the 19th-century, this palace is an epitome of European architecture finesse. It is a three-storey structure, all featuring different styles of architecture. The first storey has Tuscan influences, the second is Italian-Doric, and the third floor is of Corinthian architectural style. The main highlight of the palace is the Durbar Hall that features gold furnishings, exquisite chandeliers and huge posh carpets. This royal palace now serves as a museum that features old weaponry, the antiquity of the royal era, historic documents, and other artefacts that offer an insightful glimpse into the history of the region. From April to September, the palace remains open from 10 am to 4:45pm; and from October to March, 10 am to 4:30pm and closed on Wednesdays.
Built in the 18th-century, the Lake Palace is nestled amidst the scenic Lake Pichola. Once served as a winter palace of the royal Mewar dynasty, it is now a luxurious white-marble hotel managed by the Taj Group. It boasts 83 rooms and suites, all beautifully decorated with attention to every detail. It is considered to be among the world’s most romantic and royal hotels – live here to experience the royal taste! A must-do activity is the Rajasthani-style crafted boat ride through the Lake Pichola that takes you through an array of palaces dotting the complex.
Lake Palace, Pichola, Udaipur, Rajasthan, India, +91 0294 242 8800
Owned by the Nizam of the princely state of Hyderabad, the Falaknuma Palace was converted into an ultra-luxe hotel in 2010 and managed by the Taj Hotels. It invites guests to experience the grandeur of the Hyderabad Nizams. Perched high atop a 609.6 meters (2,000 feet) hill overlooking the City of Pearls, this hotel is renowned for its eclectic interiors, featuring Venetian chandeliers, roman pillars, marble staircases, intricate statues, artworks and exquisite period furnishings. The Japanese, Mughal and Rajasthani gardens add to its beauty. Impressively, the palace also features a huge library said to house one of the rarest versions of the Islam’s holy book, the Quran.
Served as a royal hunting lodge of the erstwhile Maharaja of Jaipur, the Rambagh Palace was converted into a heritage hotel in 1957. It is managed by the Taj Group. With its beautifully appointed rooms and suites, lush gardens, marbled corridors, luxurious services, and enough history at every corner, this 19th-century palace offers the feel of royal opulence. For an ultra-luxe experience, book a peacock suite that overlooks the plush garden and Mughal Terrace.
Rambagh Palace, Bhawani Singh Road, Jaipur, Rajasthan, India, +91 0141 238 5700