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April 16, 2024

Live like royalty: 10 lesser-known palace hotels in India

Ruhi Gilder  
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
Ahilya Fort
Photo Courtesy: Ahilya Fort
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.  
Ahilya Fort
Photo Courtesy: Ahilya Fort
Ajit Bhawan Palace Resort, Jodhpur 
Ajit Bhawan
Photo Courtesy:Ajit Bhawan
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. 
Photo Courtesy:Ajit Bhawan
Photo Courtesy:Ajit Bhawan
Chidambara Vilas, Chettinad 
Chidambara Vilas Chettinad 
Photo Courtesy: 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. 
Chidambara Vilas Chettinad 
Photo Courtesy: Chidambara Vilas Chettinad / Instagram
WelcomHeritage Ferrnhills Royale Palace, Ooty 
Ferrnhill Palace
Photo Courtesy: Ferrnhill Palace
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.
Ferrnhill Palace
Photo Courtesy: Ferrnhill Palace
Jehan Numa Palace Hotel, Bhopal 
Photo Courtesy: Jehan Numa Palace
Photo Courtesy: Jehan Numa Palace
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. 
Jehan Numa Palace
Photo Courtesy: Jehan Numa Palace
Lalitha Mahal Palace, Mysore  
Lalitha Mahal
Photo Courtesy: Lalitha Mahal
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.  
Lalitha Viceroy-Suite
Viceroy Suite.
Photo Courtesy: Lalitha Mahal
Rajmahal Palace RAAS, Jaipur 
Rajmahal RAAS
Photo Courtesy: booking.com
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.  
Rajmahal RAAS
Photo Courtesy: booking.com
Stok Palace Heritage Hotel, Ladakh 
Stok Palace Hotel
Photo Courtesy: Stok Palace Heritage Hotel
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. 
Stok Palace Heritage Hotel
Photo Courtesy: Stok Palace Heritage Hotel
Taj Nadesar Palace, Varanasi 
Nadesar Palace
Photo Courtesy: Taj Nadesar Palace
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.  
Nadesar Palace
Photo Courtesy: Taj Nadesar Palace
Taj Usha Kiran Palace Hotel, Gwalior  
Taj Usha Kiran
Photo Courtesy: Taj Usha Kiran
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.  
Taj Usha Kiran
Photo Courtesy: Taj Usha Kiran
Also read: 
The most adorable boutique hotels in Nainital and Mussoorie for your next vacation
Workation: Set up your office in these luxury hotels at scenic locations across India

Ruhi Gilder

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