India's palace hotels fit for a king

Story highlights

  • Some of India's most spectacular royal palaces are opening up their facilities to paying tourists
  • The practice provides an authentic way for travelers to experience India's rich cultural heritage
  • It also ensures the upkeep of some of the country's most spectacular historical buildings

(CNN)Drawbridges, moats and towering turrets that bear menacing defensive positions -- royal households have traditionally taken to fighting off outsiders with an array of medieval deterrents.

In the Indian city of Jodhpur however, one regal residence has parted with ancient convention and opened its doors to visitors from across the globe.
    For the princely sum of $450 a night, travelers can snap up a basic suite in the spectacular Umaid Bhavan.
    The elaborate 347-room palace is home to the Maharaja of Jodhpur, and is one of the largest private residences in the world.
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    After the Indian government abolished privy purses (a regular allowance the state gave royal families) in 1972, the Maharaja sought to cut costs and converted a third of the palace into a luxury hotel.
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    This section of the building now contains 64 luxury suites operated by hotel giant, the Taj Group.
    "It's as if you are stepping back in time and you can have that same experience but with air conditioning, with WiFi and your Grohe shower head," said Raymond Bickson, managing director and CEO of the Taj Group.
    Across India, many other former royal households and stately buildings have opened up in a similar way, taking advantage of the country's burgeoning tourist trade.
    The practice has helped maintain the architectural splendor of the palaces in question whilst providing an authentic way for travelers to experience India's rich cultural heritage -- if they have the money.
    Check out some of the most spectacular Indian palace hotels in the gallery above.