Royal Rajasthan the land of the Rajas abounds with Havelis and Palaces of yore! The many Havelis and Palaces still stand majestic in all their grandeur, greeting visitors and thereby offering a glimpse into the erstwhile glory of the dignified Rajputs!
While many palaces and Havelis have transformed into luxury hotels, they have indeed preserved the former glory yet transcending into world-class hospitality. It may be a tad dismaying to tourists that they have no access to some of these royal palaces, but owing to vandalism, the gates of these palaces are closed to vandals although doors are open to greet the gracious among you!
Palace or Haveli?
While Palaces were the quintessential residence of the royals of yore, havelis are palatial mansions of the rich and the famous Marwaris and merchants. The Shekawati region is dotted with splendid Havelis which are a true treat for your eyes. Many Havelis are converted into heritage hotels, but spending time in one can be a truly regal experience!
Traditionally, most Havelis are large enclosed spaces with spacious courtyards. Some have 2-3 courtyards, with the outer one for men and the inner one for women.
The Patwon Ki Haveli
It is a cluster of 5 havelis and the whole group is the largest and first of its kind in Jaisalmer. Constructed in 1805 by Guman Chand Patwa a distinguished trader, the Haweli was built so as to house his 5 sons. People touring Rajasthan never fail to pose as they peep out of the yellow sandstone Jahrokhas (balconies). The opulent interiors are adorned with wall paintings and the haveli’s archways and gateways look simply stunning!
Once home to Seth PiramalChaturbhujMakharia, who struck gold in Mumbai in the early 20th century, Piramal Haveli is a heritage hotel today. Notable are the frescos of flying angels titivating the walls. This 8 room hotel is a cozy space with an affable ambience.
En route to Udaipur from Jaipur, this 120 year old Haveli‘s sprawling lawns, green meads and pristine lake make it a tranquil retreat. Its roomy interiors befit dignitaries and royalties alike.
The City Palace, Jaipur, is a jewel in the crown of Rajasthan! This 18th century palace which consists of the Chandra Mahal and Mubarak Mahal looks spellbinding with its archways and ornate gateways and the interiors are equally enthralling with an opulent yet aesthetic display of magnificence. Especially noteworthy are the 4 gates of the PritamNiwasChowk which symbolize the 4 seasons-spring, summer, autumn and winter with dancing peacocks and the lotus in full bloom! The mesmeric ShobhaNiwas with its colorful mirrors is another attraction.
FatehPrakash Palace and Hotel
Located in the heart of Udaipur, this palace that stands on the eastern banks of Lake Pichola is a sight to behold! Converted into a heritage hotel, the Crystal Gallery and Durbar Hall are prominent places here. Adorned with Mewar paintings and period furniture, the 7 suites cater to privileged guests.
City Palace, Udaipur
Located on the eastern bank of Lake Pichola, and housing many more palaces within, the City Palace, Udaipur is a fine blend of Rajasthani and Mughal architecture. Perched atop a hill, the views of Lake Pichola that can be had from the palace are breathtaking! It merits half a day of touring around because the intricate paintings on marbles and colored glass work are so eye-captivating that you’d click away till kingdom come!
Notable is the MorChowk (Peacock Square) with peacock designs. Colored glasses cover jharoakhas that form niches on walls. These lent an elegant feel to the entire palace! The ZenanaMahal (Ladies Chamber) which is converted into a museum with a wide array of exhibits.
These are just a peep into the variety on a platter. The Samode Palace, Castle Mandwa, Rambagh Palace, Jai Mahal Palace, Alsisar Haveli and many more are precious gems that adorn Rajasthan!