India’s luxury palace hotels: Rajasthan Chapter

Forts and palaces have played a vital role in the history of Indian Luxury. While the era of monarchies ended in India’s subcontinent a while ago, the breath-taking and ostentatious spectacle of the Indian palaces has been transformed into some of the most luxurious and private hotels of the world.

The fierce Rajput dynasty, known for its valour, is also known for building some of the most royal properties across Rajasthan. These forts and palaces now turned into sprawling luxury hotels are offering an intimate uber-luxury experience to its high-profile clientele. Drop-dead gorgeous interiors, detailed outdoor gardens, and opulent detailing in service and room offerings are filled with a colorful cultural history to explore, experiences to unravel and stories to be lived.

Taj Lake Palace, Udaipur

In the midst of Lake Pichola in Udaipur, Rajasthan floats a pearl-white palace earlier known as Jag Niwas, built-in 1746; this is an 18-th century summer house for Maharana Jagat Singh II. Now popularly known as Taj Lake Palace – one of India’s first luxury hotels in the 1960’s, it is a four-acre retreat and oasis in Udaipur that offers a floating spa, a romantic rooftop restaurant with 18 suites and approximately 65 rooms. Taj Lake Palace is known to have made an international appearance in the James Bond film Octopussy. After Maharaja Bhagwat Singh refurbished the palace and converted it into a luxury hotel in 1963, the management of Lake Palace was then transferred to the Taj Group of Hotel, Resorts and Palaces in 1971.

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Umaid Bhawan Palace, Jodhpur

Built between 1929-1944, Umaid Bhawan Palace is named after the late Maharaja Umaid Singh. It is one of the few palaces where the royal family of Jodhpur still resides in one section of the palace. It was in 1972 when the Umaid Bhawan Palace was converted into a luxurious heritage hotel. Its management was transferred to ITC hotel in 1978, later taken over by Taj Group of Hotels, Resorts and Palaces in 2005. A private museum displays various heritage artefacts, precious China vases, antique furniture, heirloom clocks and many other items from the personal collections of the Maharajas of Jodhpur. Umaid Bhawan Palace is today one of India’s finest grand palace and luxury hotels that is known to have been a large-scale project undertaken by the then Maharaja of Jodhpur, Umaid Singh, to employ the famine-stricken people of the state in 1920s. Umaid Bhawan was the location for the celebrity Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas wedding. 

Rambagh Palace, Jaipur

This iconic palace was built in 1835 and is popularly known as the Jewel of Jaipur.  Rambagh Palace was home to the favourite handmaiden of Maharani Gayatri Devi. It later became a royal guest house before it was transformed to make it more royal and suitable to become the residence of the Maharaja in 1925. Post the Indian independence, the Maharaja became the governor, and the palace was converted to Raj Bhawan (Government House). Rambagh gets its name from its then-reigning Maharaja Sawai Ram Singh II. The royal family is known to have lived in the palace till 1957 and then converted the palace into a heritage luxury hotel. While they managed it for some time, in 1972, the management of the marvelous luxury palace was transferred to the Taj Group of Hotel, Resorts and Palaces. 

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Neemrana Fort Palace, Alwar

One of the oldest forts in India, Neemrana Fort-Palace was built in 1464 and abandoned in 1947. This exquisite royal fort-palace reflects true remnants of its rich cultural past. Acquired in 1986 and opened in 1991 as a luxury resort and oasis near the capital city of New Delhi, the fort-palace is spread across 14 levels cut into the hill, has an amphitheater, hanging gardens and breath-taking views of the Fort-palace from its special suites.

This heritage property was once home to Raja Rajinder Singh of Neemrana before being acquired to be refurbished into a heritage luxury hotel. As the Fort-hotel has disclosed, in 2000, Neemrana won the Intach-Satte award for restoration and tourism for ‘being the foremost example of how we can pick architectural treasures from the national dustbin and turn them around…’

With each room – the décor, design and aesthetics are different and engaging, in this way, you can never have seen it all here. Today, Neemrana Fort Palace’s opulence and grandeur is a popular and sought after choice for a weekend getaway for a section of the population of Delhi/NCR.

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Rajmahal Palace RAAS, Jaipur

Built in 1729, Rajmahal Palace was home to Maharaja Sawai Man Jai Singh and Maharani Gayatri Devi. In her memoir, A Princess remembers, Maharani Gayatri Devi mentions the palace to be a place of ‘charm and character and a pleasantly informal atmosphere’.

The Palace hotel today has the memories of the royal family on display that includes their family photos, heirlooms, polo trophies and the classic 1950’s Ford Thunderbird. Currently home to Rajmata Padmini Devi, the property still belongs to the royal family. Known to be a boutique luxury hotel with only 14 rooms, suites and apartments, Rajmahal Palace is enchantingly romantic, photogenic and an exquisite escape from everyday life. The hotel features hand-crafted wallpaper, soaring ceilings, mirrored doors, verdant gardens with private nooks and much more to please your mind, body and soul.

The palace is known to have hosted Queen Elizabeth II and the late Duke of Edinburgh.

Jai Mahal Palace, Jaipur

Jai Mahal Palace was built in 1745 and is a stunning heritage palace that reflects the Indo-Saracenic architecture with enthralling landscaped Mughal gardens. Today, the palace is managed by the Taj heritage hotel, resorts and palaces team that offers all possible modern day comforts with picturesque cultural, heritage and luxurious ambience of the palace.

Located in the heart of the city, the rooms at Jai Mahal Palace offer some of the most unbeatable views of the Pink city of Jaipur, the palace and the palace gardens.  They offer authentic Rajasthani flavors from India’s four princely states and other multi -cuisines in their all-day-dining restaurant.

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The National company law tribunal ( NCLT) has restored the majority holding (in the company which controls the royal palace) for Grandchildren of the late Maharani Gayatri Devi. They now own the rights of control over this iconic property.

While Rajasthan is known for its vibrant culture, opulent and glamorous palaces, enchanting gardens and many crafts and arts across the world, stay tuned with us to see another series of Luxury palace hotels across India. From palaces built atop a hill with a view of the scenic beauty of Ladakh to the nawab city of Hyderabad and more, coming soon..

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Author: Mankiran