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15 Palaces In India That Look Too Magical To Be Real

They don't call it "Incredible India" for nothing.

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1. Umaid Bhawan Palace, Jodhpur

Via Flickr: veeds

Completed in 1943, Umaid Bhawan was commissioned by Maharaja Umaid Singh of Jodhpur in 1929 during one of the longest droughts in the state, as a way of generating employment in his kingdom. Today, the royal family still inhabits a majority of the palace grounds, but part of the palace has been turned into a luxury hotel so you too can experience the royal life, starting at just $450 a night.

2. Jal Mahal, Jaipur

saturated from original / Via Flickr: saturnism

Jal Mahal was originally built in 1734 as a hunting lodge and today is only accessible by boat. The palace actually extends four stories below the lake surface, and stays dry thanks to a specially-concieved stone facade and lime mortar to prevent seepage.

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4. Hawa Mahal, Jaipur

Via Flickr: ashumittal

The "Palace of the Winds" was built by the Maharaja of Jaipur in 1799 as a really high, really pretty screened wall so that the women of the royal family could watch goings-on in the city unnoticed. All the nooks and crannies of the palace make it a great place for an epic game of hide-and-seek.

5. Fatehpur Sikri, Uttar Pradesh

Via Flickr: sandeepachetan

Built by the Mughal emperor Akbar in 1569, Fatehpur Sikri was once the seat of the Mughal empire, until a water shortage forced the Mughals to move their capital back to Lahore. Today, it's one of the best-preserved examples of the Indo-Islamic architectural style popularized by the Mughal dynasty.

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6. City Palace, Jaipur

saturated and cropped from original / Via commons.wikimedia.org

This is the current residence of the Royal Family of Jaipur, and also home to a fantastic museum featuring the royal garments of Maharaja Madho Singh II, who weighed a kingly 550 pounds.

7. Chowmahalla Palace, Hyderabad

Via Flickr: eustaquio

Chowmahalla is the former home of the Nizams of Hyderabad, the wealthiest royal lineage in India. The last Nizam, Osman Ali Khan, was wealthy enough to own 50 Rolls-Royces and a diamond paperweight worth 50 million pounds. He also employed 38 people for the sole purpose of dusting the chandeliers of the royal palace, so you can imagine how *fancy* this place is on the inside.

9. Lakshmi Vilas Palace, Baroda

Emmanuel Dyan / Via Flickr: emmanueldyan

Built in 1890 and home to the Gaekwad royal family of Baroda, this palace is four times the size of Buckingham Palace in the UK. Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad III seemed like a fun dad — he built a miniature railway around the palace grounds to take his kids between their school and the main palace.

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12. Amer Palace, Jaipur

cropped and saturated from original / Via commons.wikimedia.org

Perched high on a hill, this stunning palace was built in 1592 by the Kacchwaha dynasty. It's possible to walk — or drive — your way up from the bottom, but you can also make the trip by elephant and pretend to be Indian royalty for twenty minutes.

13. Falaknuma Palace, Hyderabad

"Falaknuma Palace 05" by Bernard Gagnon - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons / Via commons.wikimedia.org

Also formerly home to the Nizams of Hyderabad, this lovely hilltop palace is now a luxury hotel with secret gardens and personal butlers for hotel guests. If you've got the $$$ to spare, the Nizam's private bedchamber is now the hotel's Grand Presidential Suite-- complete with private swimming pool.

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14. Meherangarh Fort, Jodhpur

Via Flickr: xile

Jodhpur's best-preserved royal fort is built on a cliff four hundred feet above the city, so in addition to gorgeous gardens and intricately carved gates, you also get insanely beautiful views of blue-tinted Jodhpur below.

15. Red Fort, Delhi

Via Flickr: rameshsa

The Red Fort was built in 1648 by Shah Jahan (also known for a little thing called the Taj Mahal) as the seat of the Mughal Empire for the last 200 years of its existence. The name is a bit of a misnomer--most of the fort's interior was actually white when it was first built, except for the red sandstone walls surrounding the perimeter. The buildings were painted red under British occupation.

16. Kowdiar Palace, Trivandrum

Via upload.wikimedia.org

This beautiful hilltop palace was originally built in 1934 as a wedding gift for a princess in the Travancore royal family. It's still home to the Travancore royals, so public access is restricted.

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