Umaid Bhawan Palace

Jodhpur, Rajasthan | C.1929

Photo Credit: Nicole Iizuka

In the 1920s, the city of Jodhpur, India faced a drought-induced famine and unemployment crisis. With the intention of employing thousands of people, Maharajah Umaid Singh commissioned a grand palace, paid for by his vast personal accounts. Thus, Umaid Bhawan Palace, the 6th largest private residence in the world, a luxury hotel, and museum, came to be.

Construction began in 1929 and proceeded slowly, since the project was meant to provide employment to the almost 3,000 workers for as long as possible. British architect, Henry Lanchester, designed the structure in Beaux Arts style, with a blend of western and Indian architectural features. The palace complex is built with golden sandstone and palm court marble, and is set within 11 ha (26 acres) of lush greenery and gardens on the highest point in Jodhpur. 

The royal family moved into the complex shortly after its completion in 1943, but India gained independence soon after, and things started to change for the royal family. Seeking a way to preserve the palace, Gaj Singh II, grandson of Umaid Singh, turned part of the 347-room complex into a luxury hotel in the 1970s.

Pictured here is the hotel’s spectacular indoor pool, once the private sanctuary of the royal ladies. The art deco room is decorated in hand-painted murals by Polish artist, Stefan Norblin.

Today, the Umaid Bhawan Palace is still the home of the erstwhile royal family. It is also the Taj Palace Hotel, and contains a museum dedicated to the history of Jodhpur royalty. 

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