8 August 2017

7 decades into Indian democracy, a royal palace thrives

This March 6, 2007 photo, shows a general view of the Umaid Bhawan Palace in Jodhpur, India. The 347-room palace, considered one of the world’s fanciest residences, was used as the primary location for “Viceroy House,” a film by director Gurinder Chadha. The movie details the last days of the British Empire in India and the bloody partition with what became Pakistan in 1947.
In the summer of 1944, hundreds of royals gathered for the opening of Umaid Bhawan Palace, a magnificent sandstone edifice that dominates the skyline in India’s northwestern city of Jodhpur. It was the last of its kind.

Three years later, India was free from British colonial rule, and more than 500 princely states — the semi-sovereign principalities ruled by royal clans — faced an uncertain future. Most have faded into obscurity, but the family that built this palace continues to thrive — in part by converting a section of it into a hotel.