Raj Ni­was Palace, Dholpur

Architectural Digest (UAE) - - Portfolio -

A sym­phony in deep red sand­stone, the his­toric city of Dholpur was founded in 700 CE by its name­sake, Raja Dholan Dev To­mar. In 1876, Al­bert Ed­ward, Prince of Wales, came to visit this then British Pro­tec­torate and Raj Ni­was Palace was built by Ma­haraja Ni­hal Singh to wel­come the monarch in suit­able splen­dour.

Post-in­de­pen­dence, Dholpur merged with the young na­tion of In­dia, and in 1956 the princely state ceased to ex­ist. Nev­er­the­less, mag­nif­i­cence still reigns at Raj Ni­was Palace. The prop­erty is now owned by Dushyant Singh, the son of the erst­while ma­haraja and Va­sund­hara Raje Scin­dia, the cur­rent chief min­is­ter of Ra­jasthan.

Through wrought-iron gates and down a tree-lined path, the im­pos­ing Eu­ro­pean-style ed­i­fice awaits, its West­ern as­pect pierced sweetly by Ra­jasthani notes of in­tri­cate arabesques and jalis. In­side, amongst the maze of high- ceilinged rooms and up the wind­ing flo­ral-mu­ralled stair­case, are eight bed­rooms, clad in tiles from Eu­rope – most strik­ingly, a fish-and-wa­ter mo­tif, glazed in cobalt and ochre in the Ma­haraja Suite. The in­te­rior is a the­atri­cal set piece with Vic­to­rian baths and art nou­veau light fit­tings.

Down­stairs, or­nate cream-and-gold stucco in the draw­ing and din­ing rooms set off the floors cov­ered in mo­saics trans­ported from west Asia by camel kafi­las. The Per­sian car­pets are an­other far-flung im­port from Is­fa­han in cen­tral Iran. The lofty draw­ing room is flanked by fam­ily por­traits and fea­tures a turn-of-the-cen­tury sat­in­wood pi­ano wreathed in pho­to­graphs. As time un­furls around its walls, Raj Ni­was Palace con­tin­ues to be an oa­sis of princely hos­pi­tal­ity; French win­dows lead out onto 13 acres of lawn, which house 18 guest vil­las with plunge pools, and a flock of pea­cocks from the nearby Na­tional Cham­bal Sanc­tu­ary.

ABOVE: The palace’s 19th-cen­tury sand­stone fa­cade con­ceals an ex­u­ber­ant in­te­rior dec­o­rated with Eu­ro­pean tiles of jewel-like hues; orig­i­nal art nou­veau light fit­tingsOP­PO­SITE: A bed­room clad in stun­ning dec­o­ra­tive Dutch glazed tiles with pan­els fea­tur­ing do­mes­tic scenes

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