India is known for its royal past and rich regal history replete with kings and queens and palaces. Changing times however, have meant that a lot of these palaces have been given a contemporary twist by being converted into hotels. This gives people a great insight into the regal past of the royals in a contemporary way. After all a bit of royalty is something that cannot be grudged. Here are some of the best picks in India.
The Jehan Numa Palace Hotel, Bhopal
A 19th century royal residence, the Jehan Numa Palace in Bhopal was built in 1890 when Nawab Sultan Hehan Begum was ruling. General Obaidullah Khan, the second son of Nawab Sultan Jehan Begum and Commander-in-Chief of the erstwhile Bhopal State Force, moved out of Bhopal city in 1890 and built a palace on Shamla Hill. A visionary with an extraordinary zest for life, the General was said to possess the ability to culture pearls. Jehan Numa today reflects its many passions including a love of horses, and his eclectic collection of swords that can be seen on the hotel walls. With a view of the entire city and surrounding country, it was aptly named Jehan Numa Palace. This is where you can get a good idea of how the queens of begums of Bhopal lived and ruled the princely state and the palace itself has a mix of Muslim and Maratha heritage. Being patrons of the arts, a progressive and cosmopolitan culture took root under the peaceful rule of the Begums, a sophisticated and courteous tradition that even today, will define your experience at Jehan Numa. The Jehan Numa stands for the Palace with a view of the world. The grandsons of General Obaidullah Khan Nadir and Yawar Rashid who are the owners of the palace decided to share their legacy with the world in 1983. http://www.jehannuma.com
Jagmandir Island Palace, Udaipur
Cuilt on Udaipur’s Lake Pichola almost four hundred years ago as a pleasure-palace for the Maharanas of Mewar, the Jagmandir Island Palace is a pristine white structure that has a dreamy and romantic feel even today. Jagmandir is a historic 17th century palace that today houses an all-day café, stylish-dining restaurant, bar and spa. Over the last two decades, Jagmandir has become the most preferred and sought-after destination for ‘Regal Weddings’. Guests are ferried to Jagmandir Island Palace in flower-decked boats. The magic of the ferry-ride in the evening, with Lake Pichola glittering with jewel-like palaces on its shores, heightens the experience of reaching the jetties of Jagmandir. Through the day, visitors to Jagmandir have the pleasure of being received at the colonnaded Darikhana Restaurant, Picholi Bar and all-day café where one can leisurely spend hours gazing across Lake Pichola and the City Palace. Jagriti, a heritage museum on site gives you an insight into how the Jagmandir Island Palace was built and developed over the centuries. Jagmandir is well known for a historical episode when Mughal Prince Khurram sought refuge in 1623. He stayed at the Gol Mahal which inspired him as Mughal Emperor Shah Jehan to build the Taj Mahal in Agra. The Panghat Spa and Salon here is the place where yoga and meditation classes are conducted. http://www.hrhhotels.com/grand_heritage/jagmandir_palace/index.aspx
Lalitha Mahal Palace Hotel, Mysore
Located on a low hill, on the outskirts of the royal city of Mysore, is a beautiful, shimmering white structure is the Lalitha Mahal Palace and has been designed by E.W. Fritchley. This palace has been built in two stories. It has a projecting porch and double columns which support the entire building. It also has spherical domes and a predominant central dome which is above the entrance hall. The entry of the palace is also worth admiring, its decorative entry is called guard house. Along with this, the walls and ceilings of Lalitha Mahal create breath-taking interiors. The motifs and carvings, along with Belgian crystal chandeliers, Persian carpets, exquisite cut glass lamps, and marble floors add on to the overall beauty the palace. Other worth noticing sections of the palace are its dancing hall, banquet hall, central hall with the portraits of Mysore royals, viceroy room and Italian marble staircase with imposing design. The lush green gardens amid which the palace was built is still an attraction here. This palace was built by the Maharaja of Mysore to host the Viceroy of India and today offers a unique experience of stay with heritage in spacious and airy ceiling rooms accentuated with rich furnishing, period furniture, four- poster beds and the huge awe inspiring bathrooms. Later this palace was used for hosting other royal guests and special visitors of the royal family. With its architectural inspirations drawn from St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, in 1974, it was converted into a luxury heritage hotel. A splendid Italianate palazzo, double columned and domed – set in sprawling terraced and landscaped gardens, this is the most opulent palace hotel that offers an experience of princely living in a real Maharaja’s palace. The regal ambience of this place is mirrored in Italian marble floors and crystal chandeliers. The grand suites are century old suites of the Maharaja in its pristine from where one can experience the timeless opulence and elegance. There are two viceroy suites covering an area of over 1800 square feet each. www.lalithamahalpalace.in
Fateh Bagh, Ranakpur
This is where a forgotten chapter of history is recreated for you to experience. In 1802 the Rawla Koshilav was built on the foothills of Aravallis near Jodhpur and in 2002 Fateh Bagh was recreated with 65,000 pieces of the crumbling palace transported to Ranakpur, the famous temple-town of Rajasthan. This palace is the country’s first attempt at transplanting a palace while faithfully preserving the richness of Rajput architecture for today’s visitors. A royal retreat of the HRH Group of Hotels, this hotel brings forth a promise of peaceful ambience and giving its travel-weary guests an opportunity to rejuvenate their body, mind and soul. Guests discover the luxury of well-appointed suites and room, each with a different heritage theme. The period furniture, decor and wall-paintings give the suites and deluxe rooms a touch of distinctive class that can only be found in royal Rajasthan. The suites depict the fabled love stories of this historic land; while the honeymoon suite has the traditional swing-bed or Hinglat adding magic to those fun-filled moments! This royal retreat of the HRH Group has the richness of romance with moonlit-night dinners being exclusively arranged amidst fountains and Vaastu-based landscaped gardens. http://www.hrhhotels.com/Royal_Retreats/Fateh_Bagh/index.aspx
Taj Falaknuma Palace, Hyderabad
Previously the residence of the Nizam of Hyderabad, Taj Falaknuma Palace is situated at an elevation of 2000 feet above sea level and overlooks the city if pearls, Hyderabad. Rightfully said to be one of the most beautiful palaces in India, the palace is built completely with Italian marble, the palace has large Venetian chandeliers, rare furniture, grand marble staircases, priceless statues and art works, a world-class collection of crystals and Mughal, Rajasthani and Japanese gardens personally conceived by the Nizam. With a décor that beams with grandeur, Taj Falaknuma Palace comes adorned with large Venetian chandeliers, rare furniture, grand marble staircases and gurgling fountains. The priceless statues, objets d’art, murals in ornate frames, and an awe-inspiring crystal collection make for a royal design saga. The Palace Library, a replica of the one at Windsor Castle, is a collector’s envy as it is home to the rarest of manuscripts and books. This is where you will find some of the best collections of the Quran in the country that have been selected and brought back by the Nizam himself. With many secrets still hidden within the undulating folds of 32 acres of land, rediscover the buried history during your stay at Taj Falaknuma Palace. In tandem with the sophistication of the hotel, the culinary fare is also an exciting spread of hearty cuisine, fit for the Nizams. The aromatic journey to indulge your senses begins at Adaa which offers a carefully crafted menu capturing the essence of Indian Hyderabadi cuisine. The elaborate fare at Adaa recreates the wonders of the royal kitchens. The royal experience continues in the comfort of luxurious rooms which perfectly marry the conveniences of modernity with Nizami splendour. https://taj.tajhotels.com/en-in/taj-falaknuma-palace-hyderabad/
Gajner Palace, Gajner near Bikaner
Where can you find an authentic palace-hotel on the banks of a lake, ringed by a wildlife sanctuary in the middle of a desert? If you have this question it is at the Gajner Palace. This is a lakeside palace complex adjoining a wildlife sanctuary in the middle of Thar desert. The Gajner Palace was built by HH Maharaja Sir Ganga Singhji of Bikaner on the shores of Gajner Lake in the early 1900s. Today guests have an opportunity to experience the sprawling majestic palace with its distinctive terraces and balconies and discover its fabulous setting and unhurried way of life. With its distinguishing red sandstone architecture, the palace has an imposing façade dotted with jharokhas, sit-outs and terraces overlooking the Gajner Lake and the sanctuary. The complex stretches over 6000 acres and was primarily a hunting resort during the days of the British Raj that attracted several dignitaries, including the Prince of Wales, Lord Erwin, Governor General Lord Elgin and Lord Mountbatten, among others. Besides its panoramic landscape and architectural beauty, the Palace Complex also has the remnants of a historic railway station; this hunting resort was connected to Bikaner Palace by rail in 1922. Gajner Palace is divided into four distinctive wings – Dungar Niwas, Mandir Chowk, Gulab Niwas and Champa Niwas. The thirteen historic suites at Dungar Niwas is where British dignitaries stayed during their leisure trips. Each suite has been meticulously restored to its original grandeur. Every detail, from the furniture to the wallpaper, the four-poster beds and picturesque windows has been carefully recreated, bringing alive the ambience of a bygone era. All suites have been thoughtfully refurbished with modern facilities and amenities. http://www.hrhhotels.com/grand_heritage/gajner_palace/index.aspx
The Aodhi, Kumbhalgarh
Along rugged hills, beside a mighty fort, you wll discover a rare heritage that is hidden by trees, along the range of hills crowned by the mighty Kumbhalgarh Fort in The Aodhi, a sanctuary-resort where the legacy of valorous kings of Mewar lives on. The Aodhi is a picturesque 2-hour drive away from Udaipur, along winding hill roads with spectacular views. Inspired by the rugged magnificence of Kumbhalgarh Fort, deluxe suites and rooms at The Aodhi- a sanctuary-resort of the HRH Group of Hotels – recreate delightful themes of jungle lore. Each of the suites and rooms is replete with delightful themes of jungle lore, with fascinating imagery of tigers and panthers. It is about as close to the tiger you’ll get at The Aodhi, as the HRH managers will assure you! The wild feel of a sanctuary nearby has been aesthetically and architecturally kept alive, making every hour at The Aodhi feel special for guests. When night falls and the folk dancers begin their enchanting performances at The Aodhi Poolside, guests are transported into another realm of rustic rhythms amidst gracious hospitality. These evenings, often filled with songs, dances and photo-sessions of guests, are the stuff memories are made of in Rajasthan. At The Aodhi, there are no full stops to this magic unfolding for guests from far and near. The Chopal bar and Chowka restaurant will keep your spirits high through the days and nights; with the HRH chefs ready to dish out their best culinary fare for discerning guests from all over the world. The dining space at The Aodhi fulfills the dream of being in a country-home and served like royalty! http://www.hrhhotels.com/royal_retreats/the_aodhi_hotel/index.aspx
This story appeared in Travioor’s website here.