A highlight of any visit to India, and a unique way of experiencing the country's fascinating heritage, is a stay in one of India's magnificant palace hotels.
These hotels were actually once home to India's royalty, and in some cases still are, but have been converted into accommodations in recent years as a way of sustaining their existence. The necessity for this, and the rise and fall of India's palaces, can be traced back through India's ever evolving history.
Hundreds of years ago, India was a vastly divided country that consisted of an incredible 565 kingdoms. The richest and most grandiose of these were the Rajput kingdoms, located in what is now known as the desert state of Rajasthan. This is where India's most opulent palace hotels can be found.
The British also contributed to extensively to the building of lavish residences, particularly in India's hill settlements where they retreated during the summer months to escape the relentless heat.
After the British left and India achieved independence in 1947, all states merged into the Republic of India. Many of the British mansions were purchased by India's royal families, who used them as summer palaces for themselves. Then, in 1971, the Constitution of India abolished the status of royalty in the India and all royal privileges were withdrawn.
Some palaces and mansions were retained by the once royal families, some sold off or leased to hotel chains, and others were assumed by the Indian government. However, the end result is that India now has some exquisite palace hotels where guests can stay and experience how royalty once lived.
Browse the following pages for palace hotels to suit all budgets, from luxury five star to smaller more intimate places.