For decades, if not centuries, the Rajput fortress, the defensive castle, the composite haveli - was the abode of nobility where hospitality was a way of life. Visitors, guests, even strangers were welcomed in a tradition that was a part of the lifestyles. Even enemies, should they have come calling, were treated with utmost respect. And an extensive network of matrimonial alliances amongst the warring clans ensured that all battles ended on the field.
The chivalry and gallantry of the warrior clans was reflected in the architecture of the feudal homes. A grand entrance was reserved for state guests. There were separate viewing galleries for women, and the ladies of the 'zenana' conducted their own durbars and wielded considerable power from behind the 'purdah'.
Post independence democratic India witnessed the merger of the Princely States, abolition of 'Jagirs' land reforms and finally the withdrawal of the special privileges and privy purse from the royal families a few decades later, consequently the noble families lost
their traditional means of livelihood and even the wealthy merchants left their homes for more lucrative pastures.
Their large castles and mansions lay almost abandoned or unattended till a few enterprising pioneers realised that perhaps the only way to maintain these historic homes was their appropriate reuse. The large Palaces of the Maharajas set the trend by becoming five star hotels. Now, some of the ancestral homes too find sustenance in this new lease of life - as Heritage Hotels.
Much of the charm of these heritage hotels, united under a common banner, is the individual attention and personalisation; the very meals, for example, that were cooked for generations are still served at your table. Families in residence for centuries now welcome you to their homes as guests. And each ancestral home is different, uniquely so, reflecting its own, exceptional history, tradition & period. The ambience is perfectly reflected through sepia photographs and family memorabilia. Even the retainers may have been in the service of the families for generations.
Heritage Hotels in India
72. Sunderban, Pune