palace on lake at sunset, india

The Taj Mahal is one of the most iconic structures in the world but it’s only one of the nearly 100 great palaces in India. Each mahal has its own rich history that’s only rivaled by each of its unique architectural designs, lavish interior furnishings, and impossible preserved foundations that have outlasted invasions and seizures throughout a millennium. To visit an Indian palace is to get a glimpse into not only the royal lifestyle of India’s richest rulers, but to better understand how and why this country has endured centuries worth of turmoil. 


The Taj Mahal, photographed in golden late afternoon light

Join Luxury Gold’s Imperial Rajasthan tour and marvel at some of the most beautiful palaces in India. This extensive 13-day tour doesn’t shy away from palace peeking: New Delhi’s Presidential Palace, Muthamman Burj Palace, Palace of the Winds, Udaipur’s Leela Palace and City Palace complex are all yours to explore.

From the unconquerable bastions of Indian royalty to some of the oldest surviving forts in the country, these are some of the best palaces to visit in India. 

Aerial photograph of Taj Lake Palace, Udaipur, India

Taj Lake Palace | Udaipur

When it comes to luxury palaces in India that you’re welcome to stay in, Taj Lake Palace is unlike any other hotel you’ve ever visited. Floating on Lake Pichola, it was constructed in the 1740s by the 62nd custodian of the House of Mewar. Jag Niwas, as it was known, didn’t become a heritage hotel until the 1960s, but its grand marble suites are still as regal as centuries before. Private butler service, relaxing boat rides, and fine dining only feet from your room make this palace an unforgettable stay in the Venice of the East. And for any cinephiles visiting, be sure to order a martini, shaken not stirred, at the 24-hour Amrit Sagar bar: you’re standing in a shooting location for the James Bond film Octopussy.

Lal Bagh Palace | Indore

The Red Palace may have only been completed a century ago, but this grand palace in Indore is both a symbol of India’s turn of the century aesthetic and turn of the millennium struggles. Lal Bagh Palace took inspiration from Europe’s design trends inside and out. Its exterior finished in an Italian Renaissance Revival style, combined with Paladin, Mughal and Rajput elements. Euro-inspired interiors are found within this neoclassical building, but sadly, what once held one of the best garden palaces in the region suffered from neglect between the 1980s and the 2020s. It’s undergone restorations since 2021 and is open to the public as a museum.

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Umaid Bhawan Palace | Jodhpur, Rajasthan

One of the more contemporary Indian palaces, Umaid Bhawan Palace was built between the first and second World Wars for the Jodhpur royal family. Though still technically a private residence, you’ll be treated as close to royalty as possible now that the palace is also a 5-star heritage hotel. Views of the Blue City and Mehrangarh Fort await you in one of the last-constructed grand palaces of India. It’s only a 20 minute drive from Jodhpur Airport, so even if you aren’t staying the night, you should still make the short trip so you can tour the on-property museum dedicated to the family’s history and marvel at the same palm court marble that was used to build the Taj Mahal  

Lohagarh Fort | Bharatpur

Some of the most famous palaces in India were built by Maharaja Surajmal throughout the 1700s, including Lohagarh Fort. It took 60 years to build, and for good reason: this fort on an artificial island remained unconquered by invading British soldiers. Not to be confused with Lohagarh Fort Resort in Jaipur, the Iron Fort is surrounded by a moat which you’ll see, along with panoramic views of Bharatpur, from a protected archaeological section. It’s well worth a stroll and a visit to the on-site museum will show you the weaponry, armor, and other defense artifacts that successfully thwarted insurgence after insurgence.

Close up of Laxmi Vilas Palace with blue sky in background

Laxmi Vilas Palace | Vadodara, Gujarat

When it comes to India sightseeing, one of the most beautiful palaces you cannot miss is Laxmi Vilas Palace — the largest private residence on the planet. It’s quadruple the size of Buckingham Palace in the UK and just as ornately adorned inside and out. Laxmi Vilas Palace was constructed across 500 acres at the end of the 19th century and holds nearly 200 rooms, many of which feature artwork specially commissioned from Raja Ravi Verma. Thanks to Vadodara’s proximity to bus and train stations, a day trip to Laxmi Vilas Palace is one of the most convenient — and regal — things to do in India. 

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Malcha Mahal | New Delhi

For those looking to add an element of the recent paranormal past to their historical tour, Malcha Mahal deserves a glance. Despite its ‘mahal’ name, Malcha isn’t a palace in the traditional sense. It’s actually a 14th century hunting lodge built for the Sultan of Delhi, Feroz Shah Tughlaq. Almost hidden within the Central Ridge Forest, Malcha Mahal fell into the hands of the kingdom of Oudh before being annexed by the British. Its history takes a supernatural turn after the property was returned to the Shah’s descendants in the 1980s — at least two of whom met their deaths inside the lodge. Today, Malcha Mahal is far from a proper tourist attraction; one of the few ways to visit this abandoned, decaying structure is to trek into the forest on a ghost tour.  

Explore more: Walking with the King of the Big Cats in India’s Royal Hunting Grounds

Qila Mubarak | Patiala, Punjab

Palaces in India like Lohagarh Fort are impressive, but even such a large fortress is dwarfed by Qila Mubarak. Also called Bathinda Fort, Qila Mubarak dates back to the 1st century, making it India’s oldest surviving fort. Its formal written history tells tales of invasions and sieges from the 1000s through 1200s, when Razia Sultana, the first female commander of the fort, was killed. Qila Mubarak became desolate for centuries to come until the area was inhabited again in the 1700s. The gurdwara, created in the 1800s to commemorate Guru Gobind Singh’s visit to the site in the 1700s, will be a highlight of your visit inside.   

You’ll have the opportunity to visit many of the iconic Indian palaces when you join Luxury Gold’s Essence of India tour. This 8-day tour handpicks a number of remarkable palaces and things to do in India to ensure you get a comprehensive view of the country’s history and landscape. Your itinerary includes a stay at the Leela Palace, viewing the Presidential Palace, and stopping at Muthamman Burj Palace, Amber Palace, and Jai Mahal Palace.