Few structures evoke the majesty of the Indian courts as splendidly as the numerous palaces and ancient forts. Each one offers a fascinating window into India’s immense historical and cultural diversity, from the grand royal residences of the Maharajas dotted around the country to the castles in the sand.
Having been carefully restored, the emphasis throughout is on being stylish, with plenty of subtle spots of colour from the stonework and fabrics. These palatial residences of the erstwhile Indian Maharajas have been transformed into heritage hotels but ooze out the same old elegance and luxury.
By staying in any of the heritage hotels in India you can enjoy a pampering treatment like the kings and the queens. These hotels are well-equipped with every modern-day facility coupled with flawless hospitality of the staff members. Most of the palaces and mansions of the royal families all around the country are now turned into luxury and boutique hotels.
For decades, if not centuries, the Rajput fortress, the defensive castle, the composite haveli - was the abode of nobility where hospitality was a way of life. Visitors, guests, even strangers were welcomed in a tradition that was a part of the lifestyles. Even enemies, should they have come calling, were treated with utmost respect. And an extensive network of matrimonial alliances amongst the warring clans ensured that all battles ended on the field.
The chivalry and gallantry of the warrior clans was reflected in the architecture of the feudal homes. A grand entrance was reserved for state guests. There were separate viewing galleries for women, and the ladies of the 'zenana' conducted their own durbars and wielded considerable power from behind the 'purdah'.
Post independence democratic India witnessed the merger of the Princely States, abolition of 'Jagirs' land reforms and finally the withdrawal of the special privileges and Privy Purse from the royal families a few decades later, consequently the noble families lost their traditional means of livelihood and even the wealthy merchants left their homes for more lucrative pastures.
Their large castles and mansions lay almost abandoned or unattended till a few enterprising pioneers realised that perhaps the only way to maintain these historic homes was their appropriate reuse. The large Palaces of the Maharajas set the trend by becoming five star hotels. Now, some of the ancestral homes too find sustenance in this new lease of life - as heritage hotels.
By opting for a stay in a heritage hotel, enjoy luxury environment, lip-smacking authentic delicacies, spacious rooms and furniture coupled with world-class amenities. Every room or suite boasts of a traditional décor but with all the modern facilities to make your stay a comfortable one.
The conception of heritage hotels begun from the Rajasthan, the royal Indian state where various palaces and mansions were just attractions for the tourists and nothing else. They were later turned into stunning heritage properties as an accommodation option for discerning travelers.
Many of them are still private residences and counted amongst the great palaces of India. The views from their battlements are magnificent – out over the villages and into the distance. A large number of them have tranquil spas that offer excellent pampering massages, whilst their large swimming pools are second-to-none. Impeccable style and taste are the bywords here – you’ll be tempted to stay on for weeks.
By Marcela Kunova - 20th April 2017
Nicola Shepherd, founder and CEO of The Exploration Company, organises unusual trips for HNW and UHNW clients ranging from birthday parties at an Indian Maharajah's palace to reliving Sir Vivian Fuchs's 1950s expedition to the South Pole. Citywealth caught ...
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