Take a break from your regular tourist circuit for a regal holiday at these palace hotels of Gujarat. Once home to the royal family, these hotels are easily accessible from major cities such as Ahmedabad, Rajkot, Vadodara, etc. Do remember to book in advance as some are popular as wedding and film shooting destinations, and can be packed to the brim.
Garden Palace Balasinor
Relics from the past, period furniture and a grand layout are not the only attractions of this late 19th century palace, accessible from Ahmedabad. It is the generous hospitality offered by the royal family that breathes life into it. Be it sharing anecdotes from the past or a royal recipe, accompanying visitors on excursions, the royal family is eager to make their guests feel at home. The heritage homestay can also be the base for some interesting excursions (chargeable) that can be arranged through the palace. A visit to Raiyoli Dinosaur Fossil Excavation Site or a hike to Dhamod to see the Laliya Luhar fort ruins may involve some walking around but are worth the trouble. The nearest air and rail hub for Garden Palace Balasinor is Ahmedabad (86km away).
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After the royal family decided to open a part of their residential palace, not far from Vadodara, as a guest house for visitors, it catapulted to fame as a home for nature lovers. The Jambughoda Sanctuary is just a kilometre away from this over-a-century-old home. And with Jambughoda Palace’s own sprawling garden and the organic farm beyond, it is hard to get any nearer to nature than this. The hotel can also arrange for safaris, visits to the UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Champaner and Pavagadh (25km away by road), visits to Sankheda village (30km away) where you can see local artisans making lacquered teak wood furniture, and other nearby attractions. A special request may earn you an opportunity to dine with the royal family. Jambughoda Palace is around 80km from Vadodara, the nearest airport and railway station. Ahmedabad is 190km by road. The hotel can arrange for pick-up from Vadodara on separate payment.
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The royal family of Gondal has opened up two of their palaces for receiving guests. The late 19th century Orchard Palace was initially built to house guests of the royal family. It is here that you will find the royal railway saloon converted into a suite, complete with rooms with inlaid finish and English washrooms. The orchards adjacent to the palace are also home to peacock families and many other birds.
Located on a riverbank, the late 19th century Riverside Palace was once the residence of the Crown Prince of Gondal. While staying at these place, do not miss the vintage and classic car collection lovingly maintained even today. Also, you may pay a visit to the Naulakha Palace built in 1748 AD. The former living quarters have been converted to a museum displaying a wide range of royal paraphernalia, including textiles, brassware, silver caskets, toys, motor sports trophies, among others. The Heritage Gondal Palaces are accessible from Rajkot (about 40km away by road), the nearest airport and railway hub. Ahmedabad is around 250km away by road.
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Nilambag Palace Bhavnagar
Located in the commercial city of Bhavnagar, this mid-19th century palace offers rooms and cottages that reflect the regal splendour of the yesteryears. Made of Rajula stone, the grand structure was designed by a German architect, Simms. Elegant chandeliers light up the Darbar Dining Hall as your meals are served at the ornate Burma teak banquet tables. Go for some local sightseeing, especially to Gujarat’s oldest library, the Barton Library, Takhteshwar Shiva Temple, Victoria Park and the beaches near town. Short excursions to Velavadar Blackbuck Sanctuary and the Palitana Jain Temples can also be arranged for you. The Nilambag Palace is located in the heart of Bhavnagar. Bhavnagar is connected by air, road and rail with Ahmedabad.
They also run two other heritage properties.The Narayani Heritage Hotel is located on the same premises as the Nilambag Palace and share some of its facilities. The Gopnath Bungalow, the former summer palace, is located on the seashore.
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Indulge in some royal hospitality as the owners of this palace hotel, accessible from Ahmedabad, welcome you into their fold. As it is located near Gujarat’s border with Rajasthan, the palace kitchen is known to serve dishes typical to both states. If you are keen, the royal family may also share some of their old recipes with you.
Poshina is also the place to learn about the tribes residing here. A few days after Holi, the Chitra Vichitra Fair, is held nearby. Take a tour of the tribal villages to see the artisans at work, making terracotta toys to silver jewellery to forging swords. There are also old Hindu and Jain temples around. You can also combine a trip to Poshina along with that of Mt Abu. Darbargadh Poshina is accessible from Ahmedabad (about 180km away by road) and Udaipur (about 145km away). The nearest railway station is Abu.
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