Who doesn’t want to live like a royal? India has plenty of palaces turned into hotels, where one can live out their royal dreams. Suffused with history and luxury, here are some of the lesser-known palaces you can visit in India.
Ahilya Fort, Maheshwar
In the central state of Madhya Pradesh is Ahilya Fort, the erstwhile stronghold of Maharani Ahilyabai Holkar. She ruled here from 1765 to 1796 and built Ahilya Wada that had her personal residences, offices, and darbar audience hall. The property was converted into a hotel by her descendant, Prince Richard Holkar, in the year 2000. The fort overlooks the river Narmada and is dotted with picturesque courtyards. The hotel serves traditional regional thaalis for guests, made with recipes from the royal kitchen. The organic bageecha provides the kitchen with fresh produce; a menagerie, filled with bunnies, ducks, goats and royal pugs are a hit with children.
Ajit Bhawan Palace Resort, Jodhpur
The epitome of Rajasthani luxury is Ajit Bhawan Palace. Built in 1927, it was made for General Maharaja Dhiraj Sir Ajit Singh Ji, younger brother of Maharaja Shri Umaid Singh of erstwhile Jodhpur State. The palace is still home to the royal family. The hotel serves Lal Maas, a specialty of the state and a typical Rajasthani thali for vegetarians.
Chidambara Vilas, Chettinad
Chidambara Vilas is a 110-year-old heritage Chettiar home. The property was converted into a hotel post a 3-year long restoration process. This 25-room property was originally constructed in 1900 and took 7 years to build. The wood was imported from Burma, lights and mirrors from Belgium, chandeliers from Daman and Diu and tiles from Italy. The rooms are adorned with vintage hand-operated panka fans, striking wooden poster beds, and famous ‘Athangudi’ tiles, which are handcrafted by artisans from the village of the same name.
WelcomHeritage Ferrnhills Royale Palace, Ooty
Located in the popular ‘Queen of Hills,’ a nickname given by the British is Ferrnhills Palace. The charming summer residence was owned by the royal family of Mysore. The architecture is a blend of gothic, regency and neo-classical Renaissance. Built in 1844, the Ferrnhills palace resembles a Swiss chalet. The property is close to Ooty Lake, Dodabetta Peak, and the Botanical Gardens. One can also visit the Mudumalai Wildlife Reserve and Pykara Waterfall, which are a little further away.
Jehan Numa Palace Hotel, Bhopal
Constructed in 1890, during the rule of Nawab Sultan Jehan Begum, the palace was named after her. The Jehan Numa Palace Hotel opened its doors to visitors in September 1983. The palace is an amalgamation of British Colonial, Italian Renaissance, and Classical Greek architecture. The modern yet stately 5-star hotel is equipped with a spa, steam & sauna, swimming pool, fine dine restaurant and even a banquet hall for special events.
Lalitha Mahal Palace, Mysore
We can thank the Viceroy of India for this majestic palace. Lalitha Mahal was built by the erstwhile Maharaja Krishnaraj Wadiyar Bahadur IV of Mysore to host his most important guest, the Viceroy of India. The 54-suite palace was commissioned in 1921 and is set at the foot of Chamundi Hill. Standout architectural features include an Italianate palazzo, twin ionic columns, and a central dome. The hotel gives you a full royal experience with a magnificent balustrade staircase, life-size portraits of royal family, lithographs portraying Tippu Sultan’s skirmishes with the British, and a Belgian glass dome.
Rajmahal Palace RAAS, Jaipur
Truly fit for royalty, this palace has played host to Queen Elizabeth II and HRH, The Duke of Edinburgh, Jackie Kannedy, the Shah of Iran, Lord and Lady Mountbatten, Prince of Wales and Princess Diana! Dating back to 1729, Rajmahal was commissioned by H.H Sawai Jai Singh II as a garden resort and a private palace for Chandra Kanwar Ranawat, his beloved wife. Interior designer Adil Ahmad restored the palace to convert it into a luxury hotel.
Stok Palace Heritage Hotel, Ladakh
Breath-taking views of the Indus Valley await you at the Stok Palace. Built by Ladakhi craftsmen in 1820, the Stok Palace continues to be an abode for the Namgyal dynasty. This royal dynasty traces its lineage back to the 10th century. It is an exemplary example of the local architecture of the region. The interiors are decorated with murals of both secular and religious themes. The hotel gives guests the unique experience of learning about the Ladakhi Buddhist Culture. Visitors also have privileged access to The Royal Museum of Stok, which houses royal family’s treasures, costumes, and jewellery.
Taj Nadesar Palace, Varanasi
Situated in one of the oldest living cities in the world is the Nadesar Palace. The heritage property is on the banks of the river Ganga in Varanasi. The palatial home belonged to Maharaja Prabhu Narain Singh in the 19th-century, and is named after the Goddess Nadesari. Guests can take a guided tour of the Palace, in the “Royal Horse Carriage” driven by the family that has been serving the royal family for generations. the rooms are decorated with artwork and furniture from the Maharaja’s personal collection.
Taj Usha Kiran Palace Hotel, Gwalior
A 36,421 square meter estate in Gwalior, houses Taj’s Usha Kiran Palace. This palace was built in 1880 by H H Maharaj Jayaji Rao Scindia, from the Scindia Dynasty of the Marathas. The Royal Suites are furnished with Venetian mirrors, mother-of-pearl mosaics and canopied beds. The Jiva Spa even offers ancient royal spa and wellness treatments that originated in the 14th century in the magnificent Man Mandir Palace, Gwalior Fort. The food is prepared using closely guarded recipes from the Maratha and Nepal royal kitchens.