India’s many palaces reflect a time of long ago, when Rajas and Maharajas – Indian royalty – occupied this exciting and mysterious land. The utter luxury and elegance of these opulent buildings remain in majestic glory, impressing locals and millions of tourists every year. They boast old-world architecture and traditional style. They tell of a long history that formed the cultures and religions of India as it is today, cultivating a true appreciation for the ancient foundations of this fascinating society of people.Uttar Pradesh remains one of the areas that best tell the story of India’s history. It is situated centrally and is famous for its particularly strong sense of culture, religion and history. Not only is this state littered by countless monuments, mosques, temples and other significant buildings, but also by a variety of gorgeous palaces. These include:
• Red Fort in Agra - originally conceived by Akbar the Great as a military fort, it was converted into a palace by his grandson, complete with a marble pearl mosque and an extensive moat for protection. This property is so large that it has been described by many as a little city within its 20 metre high walled borders.
• Diwan-e-Am – the hall of public hearing in this palace was once the venue in which the Emperor met with the public and officials to resolve legal issues. It was first built out of wood, but was then rebuilt by Shah Jahan in more impressive and durable materials.
• Moti Masjid – this palace is made entirely from beautiful white marble, giving it an iridescence that is guaranteed to leave visitors with a sense of awe. The word “moti” means ‘pearl’, referring to its external appearance. This is also part of the Agra Fort and is absolutely magnificent.
Gujarat is in the westernmost state of India, and has always played an integral role in the economic status and development of the subcontinent. For many years in India’s history, this area was considered to be safe from the threat of natural disasters and human attacks (as Asian soldiers seldom felt the need to get involved with the peninsula). For this reason, it attracted many people that were fleeing from a crisis in another part of the country. This led to a distinctly varied mix of people that made this their home. They came from all regions, religions and languages of India. It was only in the 16th century that warriors attacked this part of India too, changing its status as the safe haven for all. When the English settlers arrived, they brought a certain amount of peace and civility back to the area. During this time of political rest, they constructed grand palaces and impressive mansions in which to live. Therefore, this area is characterised more by palaces with the colonial influences than those that are more traditionally Indian styled (which is more elaborate and ornate).
There are myriad more palaces to explore in India. These immerse the visitor in a long-ago time of princes and paupers, where royalty and nobility enjoyed almost absolute freedom and, very often, a fairytale kind of life.