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Life of Maharajas:India's royal riches

The word “maharaja” conjures up the image of a turbaned, bejeweled ruler, fabulously wealthy and powerful. That is no longer a reality; although Maharajas are still wealthy, they no longer rule kingdoms.

Until the year of India’s independence in 1947, the rulers of states lived in walled fortresses or palaces with terraces and gardens having separate living areas for women and servants. They did their hunting in Rolls-Royces, ordered furniture, art and jewelry from the most exclusive European firms, and demonstrated their hospitality through banquets for hundreds of guests.

Noble landowners and ministers also built palaces and holiday homes near the residences of Maharajas, trying to emulate the opulent lifestyles of their leaders. Many of these are now turned into popular heritage hotels of Rajasthan such as Samode Palace,Samode Bagh, Narain Niwas Palace, and Castle Kanota.

Get inspired and be a part of this royal lifestyle! The maharajas have opened their palaces, hunting grounds, and summer residences for guests to experience luxury and the heritage and royalty of Indian Maharajas. As maintenance and restoration were too expensive, most of these Rajasthan palaces are now being leased out to luxury hotel chains, like the Taj hotels, who work to restore the artistic heritage of these kingdoms. In Rajasthan, you will find Umaid Bhawan Palace (Taj hotels), the sixth largest private residence in the world. Decorated in an Art Deco style, it includes 10ha of gardens with peacocks, an underground swimming pool, and a museum of the royal family. The staircase in the vestibule at Umaid Bhawan Palace was built using the same marble as in the Taj Mahal. Located on a hill, you can enjoy views of the entire city and Mehrangarh Fort.

Then comes the finest hotels in pink city of Jaipur – Taj Rambagh Palace, Taj Jai Mahal Palace, and Suján Rajmahal Palace – these hotels have played host to world-renowned dignitarieslike Jackie Kennedy, Queen Elizabeth II, and the Shah of Iran. A stay in these palaces is completed with experiences like polo games, al fresco dinners, concerts, and safaris which gives the chance to become part of a vanished lifestyle and feel like the guest of a king.

In 1940 at the entrance to Samode Haveli hotel, a ramp was built for elephants in order to celebrate a wedding in the royal family; today as well, special illumination of the palace with a royal welcome can be part of your experience. There are many heritage boutique hotels which are still being managed by the royal families, such as Ravla Bhenswara, Shahpura Bagh, Rohetgarh, Mihirgarh, and Deogarh Mahal to name few. The owner’s family receives and honors the guests as if they had been invited personally by them. The money raised through guest accommodations is used to maintain the building and infrastructure in the local community. Another impressive hotel is Ramathra Fort, a 350-year-old citadel in the Karauli district. Descendants of the first owner, the son of the Maharaja of Karauli, restored it over a period of 15 years to make it into a hotel with 110 rooms.

A vision in marble, Lake Palace in Udaipur is spectacular; this exquisite monument looks as though it floats on Pichola Lake. Built of white marble, the architectural marvel is beyond words. It looks like a dream, set in the wonderful backdrop of the Aravallis hills. The luxuries of Lake Palace are legendary and the resplendent beauty is amplified in the interiors. Built between 1743 – 1746 under the direction of the Maharana Jagat Singh II of Udaipur, Rajasthan(62nd successor to the royal dynasty of Mewar) as a winter palace, it was initially called Jag Niwas or Jan Niwas after its founder. In 1971, Taj hotels took over the management of the hotel and it is now one of the premier heritage hotels in India. Experience its heritage, breathtaking beauty, and the indulgences of one of the most luxurious hotels in the country.

Where once the Maharanas of Mewar held courtis the Fatehprakash Palace. This palace was constructed during the reign of Maharana Fateh Singh, who ruled Mewar from 1884 to 1930, as an exclusive venue for royal functions. The Durbar Hall Sabhagaaris one of the main features of the hotel and is of historical significance as in 1909 Lord Minto, the Viceroy of India, laid its foundation stone; the hall was originally called Minto Hall in his honor. The palace is located on the eastern shores of the picturesque Lake Pichola and seems to have floated straight out of a fairytale. The suites and rooms are decorated with replica paintings and palatial furniture from the toshakhanas or royal storerooms, and immerse you in luxury as you soak in the ever-changing hues of the lake from the large arched windows.The Durbar Hall Sabhagaar and Crystal Gallery, resplendent with rare paintings and objet d’art, connect you to a rich and authentic heritage.

You are invited to a lifetime experience at Shiv Niwas Palace in Udaipur, another palace where royalty has always felt at home. This crescent-shaped palace was built in the early 20th century during the reign of Maharana Fateh Singh (1884-1930), and has been meticulously maintained and preserved for guests like you. The palace was reserved exclusively for visiting dignitaries and guests of the House of Mewar. Today it is a Grand Heritage Palace for guests, combining the elegance of the last century with modern 21st century amenities.

Experience a Maharajas’ opulent lifestyle!