Top seven heritage hotels of India

Top seven heritage hotels of India
Jagat Niwas Palace. Photo: Shutterstock Images

Incredible India as we know it is famous for its rich and varied culture and heritage. A part of this rich heritage includes the magnificent royal palaces and forts that dot the landscape across the country. Have you ever wondered how the kings and queens of our rich past lived in these humongous structures? And how luxurious their lives may have been?

Read on to know more about some of the best Heritage Hotels of India:

A small brief
Heritage hotels usually operate out of establishments like forts, castles, palaces, hunting lodges, havelis, bungalows and period buildings. To be classified as ‘heritage’, these establishments need to have been built before 1935 and have a unique and distinctive architectural style, history, and ambience. Size does not matter.

There are about 140 Heritage Hotels in India. They are all a part of The Indian Heritage Hotels Association (IHHA), which was established in 1990 and assigned with the task of looking after them, maintaining them, and turning them into productive buildings.

The Government of India recognised Heritage Hotels as a separate category of Indian tourism in 1991. The term Heritage Tourism was thus coined. These Heritage Hotels in India today are categorised as - Heritage, Heritage Classic and Heritage Grand.

Top 7 Heritage Hotels of India
Jagat Niwas Palace, Udaipur
Owned by Thakur Devraj Singh Jagat, an erstwhile royal Rajput, is an early 17th-century mansion (haveli), situated on the eastern bank of the Lake Pichola in Udaipur.

The Jagat Niwas Palace is a heritage boutique hotel built with marble. It boasts of majestic architecture, a great location and stunning views. The hotel is surrounded by ancient temples and havelis and takes you back in time to an era gone by. Every nook and corner of this hotel is filled with traditional artefacts and remnants of a rich past.

Each room at the Jagat Niwas Palace is palatial with vintage décor and antique furnishings and offers a panoramic view of Lake Pichola and the Aravalli mountains. Do not miss out on the royal on-the-lake dining experience at the hotel, accompanied by traditional music and the perfect setting fit for a king!

Ratan Vilas, Jodhpur
Ratan Vilas, a heritage mansion built in 1920, was once the residence of Maharaj Ratan Singhji of Raoti. Today, the great-grandson of the Maharaj, Brijraj Singh and his family continue to reside in a part of the building which used to be the Zenana (ladies’ quarters). They continue to make sure that all guests at the Ratan Vilas have a comfortable and memorable stay.

The hotel has 21 rooms only as they believe in enhancing the guests' experience rather than adding more rooms. The hotel's architecture is typical of the region of Jodhpur and is also made of the famous red sandstone of Jodhpur.

Experience India's royal past and the valour of the Rajputs through the old family portraits of the royal family that fill the lobby area, and if you are lucky, you may chance upon an encounter with Maharaj Brijraj Singh himself, who would be more than happy to tell you about his family's history, legacy and their future plans.

The House of MG, Ahmedabad
The House of MG is a mansion with impressive heritage colonial architecture. It was built in the early 20th century by one of the city’s founders, Shri Mangaldas. The House of MG offers 37 beautifully restored rooms and two widely popular restaurants. The highlight of this hotel is its gallery that showcases traditional textiles, jewellery and silver from the Mangaldas family collection and even has a special section dedicated to children.

The hotel is also famous for being host to the Father of The Nation – Mahatma Gandhi, in 1915, when he was returning from South Africa.

The House of MG celebrates and patronises local craftsmanship. Every item of furniture and upholstery in the hotel is handmade! If you want to experience Gujarati hospitality in an ambience that makes you feel like you're at home, then book a stay at this haveli for a truly memorable experience.

Fort Jadhavgadh, Pune
Step into a world of 300 years of royal Maratha legacy at Fort Jadhavgadh. The fort was built in 1710 by Shri Pilaji Jadhavrao, a Maratha general in the army of Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj, as his residence. Located on the outskirts of Pune (14kms away), the fort has been converted into a hotel and is currently being operated by the Orchid group of hotels.

Fort Jadhavgadh has marvellously preserved its cultural heritage and legacy and offers a plethora of secret passageways, dungeons, canons, lush green lawns and the never-ending interesting stories of Maratha valour and bravery. The hotel offers 58 rooms comprising suites, tents, and cottages, giving you a perfect blend of old-world charm and contemporary luxuries. Be sure to experience a unique dining ambience at the resort and sample the best of traditional Maharashtrian cuisine on your stay here.

Fernhills Royale Palace, Ooty
Originally built by Captain F. Cotton in 1844 as a club hotel, Fernhills Royale Palace became the summer palace of the Mysore Maharaja when His Highness Chamarajendra Wadiyar X bought it from the British in 1873. The hotel is currently run by Her Highness Pramoda Devi of Mysore's Wadiyar Dynasty in collaboration with Welcome Heritage Hotels by ITC Ltd.

Spread over 50 acres of lush lawns and surrounded by cardamom and tea plantations and eucalyptus forests, the hotel offers panoramic views of the tea gardens and valleys. The palace hotel resembles a Swiss Chalet and is simply breathtaking. It is constructed with Burmese teak and ornamental paper-mâché ceilings.

Fernhills offers 19 suites that are regally decorated and equipped with world-class amenities. Dine at the award-winning restaurant Curry and Rice here, serving delicious Italian, Continental, Chinese, and Nilgiri cuisines.

The Rajbari Bawali, Kolkata
Located 1.5 hrs away from Kolkata, The Rajbari Bawali is a 300-year-old boutique heritage property that looks like it's right out of a movie set with its sprawling corridors, lawns and old colonial-style architecture.

Rajbari Bawali. Photo: Shutterstock Images

The mansion was built by the Zamindars of the Mondal dynasty in Bawali. It has now been restored and converted into a hotel to give us a taste of the Zamindars' luxury, style, and heritage of Bengal. 

The rooms at the Rajbari offer a signature heritage style that includes carved antique four-poster beds, vintage furniture, marble floors and state-of-the-art amenities.

Dine at the Piano Room restaurant that serves many dishes from Mughal, British, Portuguese, Armenian, Jew and Bangladeshi cuisines.

The Judge's Court, Kangra
The Judge's Court is a country manor located in the village of Pragpur in Kangra district, Himachal Pradesh. It is located at an elevation of 2,000 feet above sea level in the Kangra valley.

The Judge's Court was built by Jai Lal, a 7th generation resident of Pragpur whose ancestors had migrated from Amarkot (now in Pakistan) and Sirhind. Judge's Court offers an ambience of a bygone era along with contemporary amenities and conveniences. Find yourself transported to cities like Lahore and Shimla from the days of the Raj, and have a relaxed and experiential holiday that's much needed in modern stressful times.

So, if you feel like experiencing the life of a royals or erstwhile noblemen, choose one of these Heritage Hotels from above for your next holiday and live life king size!

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