What better way of reconnecting with India’s royal past than being a part of it yourself? If you thought it wasn’t possible anymore, Gauri Retarekar does just that for you.
One of the better ways to travel in India and enjoy the luxurious splendor of her rich cultural heritage is to stay in one of the magnificent palace hotels or heritage hotels, as they are popularly known today. These palaces that were once homes to India’s royalty–the Maharajas, Maharanis, their kids and a host of attendants–have today been converted into luxury hotels inviting guests to come face-to-face with India’s history and hospitality at its best.
Vacationing in a heritage hotel in India is probably one of the finest ways of holidaying in India. You not only get to live life king-size but also get to bask in the hospitality complete with the most state-of-the-art amenities these resorts boast of.
What to Expect
Guests at such palaces-turned-hotels enjoy great ambience, a variety of cuisines to choose from including the royal cuisine, huge palatial rooms, antiquated and oftentimes original furniture, and all modern facilities including air conditioning, internet connection, and state-of-the-art bathrooms, often with your personal Jacuzzi. The rooms have been luxuriously done up to serve the interests of guest who are often looking for both comfort and an encounter with royalty. You can expect a variety of entertainment programs organized to please your senses and give you a taste of the local art and culture too. But when in such a royal property, be ready to meet the unexpected.
Palace Properties from the Rajputana
The concept of palace hotels took off mainly from the Rajputana state of Rajasthan. This is where the most opulent and luxurious hotels can be found. Here are a few to choose from.
Taj Lake Palace, Udaipur: Rising out of the Lake Pichola, the Taj Lake Palace, Udaipur, evokes a sense of magic and mysticism. The floating palace is a dream of white marble and mosaic glistening in the moonlight, reminiscent of the most beautiful cliché in the world, The Taj Mahal. The other Palace Hotels located in Udaipur include names like Devi Garh, Fateh Prakash Palace, Shikharbadi, Shivnivas Palace, and Udaivilas.
Rambagh Palace, Jaipur: The stately beauty of the Rambagh Palace captures the grandeur and romance of a bygone era. Set amidst elegant historical gardens, this palace was built by Maharaj Sawai Man Singh II of Jaipur and was abode to the Jaipur royalty for over 30 years before being converted into a palace hotel. The hotel reflects rich taste with its exquisite antiques, rich tapestry, and paintings from an era gone by. The other palace hotels in the city include Jai Mahal Palace, Raj Palace Hotel, and Samode Palace.
Umaid Bhavan Palace, Jodhpur: Share your home with the royal family of Jodhpur by being a guest at the Umaid Bhavan Palace, for they still occupy a small portion of this colossal and magnificent hotel property overlooking the city of Jodhpur. Apart from Umaid Bhavan, the other palace hotels located around the city include Bal Samand Lake Palace, Sardar Samand Palace, Fort Chandva Luni, and Ajit Bhavan Palace.
Although the palace hotels mentioned so far are the major ones located in Rajasthan, there are scores of such properties spread throughout the state for the simple reason that the kings and queens got palaces erected wherever they went.
Palace Hotels in the Rest of India
Thanks to the evenly spread princely states, there are numerous palatial properties transformed into modern-day residential hotels located in other parts of the country too. Here are a few of them.
Fernhills Palace, Ooty: This property is located on the rolling hills of Ooty, located in South India’s tea estate district. The hotel is a quiet reminder of its colonial charm with each room fitted with a delightful open fireplace for guests to warm themselves.
Kasmanda Palace, Mussoorie: The small but elegant Kasmanda Palace hotel is one of the oldest buildings of Mussoorie. The royal Kasmanda family still owns this hotel which is filled with numerous memorabilia and is situated just at the foothills of the Himalayas.
Wildflower Hall, Shimla: The Wildflower Hall was once the home of Lord Kitchener during the British Raj in India. It rests in an enviable fairytale setting in the Himalayas, amidst dense pine and cedar woods.