India is an increasingly popular destination for British holiday-makers who want more than a straight-forward fly and flop vacation. For seasoned long-haul travellers, eager to experience something different, India is an obvious choice: a nation full of history, culture and colour which is overflowing with exceptional experiences.
2017 is set to be a bumper year for Indian tourism as it marks the 70th anniversary of the country’s independence. India has already benefited from the media attention surrounding Oscar-nominated film Lion but this isn’t the only movie to shine a light on India so far this year.
Viceroy’s House was released in cinemas around the UK a week ago today, the film tells the story of Partition using the famous Viceroy’s House as the crucible which holds the diverse elements of this complex socio-political event.
According to the film’s director, Gurinder Chadha, the incredible residence in New Delhi, home of the last British Viceroys, is as important to the movie as any of its central characters. With the building playing such a vital role in the film, of course it was essential to find the right location to shoot.
Some scenes were filmed at the original Viceroy’s House: designed by British architect Edwin Lutyens and constructed between 1911 and 1929, this grand structure was built to represent Britain’s Imperial strength. However, following Partition, when Rajendra Prasad became the first President of India in 1950, the building was renamed Rashtrapati Bhavan (President’s House) and it has been the home of India’s Presidents ever since.
Rashtrapati Bhavan and its Mughal Gardens are open to visitors on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. For any fans of history, architecture or horticulture staying in Delhi, a visit to this incredible residence is truly an opportunity not to be missed.
600 kilometres southwest of Rashtrapati Bhavan, perched on a hill overlooking the city of Jodhpur in Rajasthan, is the Umaid Bhawan Palace. In this magnificent palace once lived Maharani Badan Kanwar and it was here that much of the movie Viceroy’s House was actually filmed.
Former home of the Jodhpur royal family and made with the same palm court marble of which the Taj Mahal was built, Umaid Bhawan Palace sits atop Chittar Hill, at the highest point of the city. The vast palace is set amid 26 acres of lush gardens and is the sixth largest private residence in the world.
However, if you fancy living like Indian royalty for a day, you’re in luck… part of the palace is now a 5* Taj heritage hotel which allows guests to experience the luxury of the maharajas. The hotel contains 64 exquisite Art-Deco rooms and suites along with a spa and two restaurants, one serving traditional Rajasthani cuisine and the other dishing up European and Mediterranean food from the cover of the palace’s colonnaded veranda.
Perhaps the most impressive feature of this majestic palace, more impressive than its sweeping lawns and grand marble halls, is its high vantage point which affords incredible views over the historic Blue City, great golden sand dunes beyond, and the imposing 15th century Mehrangarh Fort.
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