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The facade of Umaid Bhawan palace. With 76 guest rooms,...

JODPHUR, RAJASTHAN, INDIA - 2008/10/15: The facade of Umaid Bhawan palace. With 76 guest rooms, Jodhpur's Art Deco era Umaid Bhawan - built to provide labour during a severe drought and economic hardship - is reportedly one of the largest residencies in the world. Architected by Henry Vaughan Lanchester, the facade mirrors the main temple of Cambodias Angkor Wat, but with colonial-era wings, Art Deco interiors and a central cupola guarded by stuffed leopards - a mishmash of styles influencing its 1940s beginning. Fresh from a $15 million facelift, Taj Hotels and Resorts have recently returned the palace to its original magnificence, plus adding marble bath-tubs and period furniture to all the rooms, a new pool overlooking the ruins of Mehrangarh Fort, and a new basement spa. Providence created the Maharajas to offer man-kind a spectacle, wrote Rudyard Kipling of the Princes of Rajasthan. Famed for their chivalrous and eccentric spending habits, the Maharajas, Maharanis and their regal kin created Indias reputation for extravagance. Living in feudal kingdoms across Rajasthan, their lavish lifestyles came to an end during the rein of Indira Gandhi, when she denounced them from their thrones and took back their ample public purses. Left with only their palaces enchanting, intricate and spectacular monuments spanning epochs and empires - and left with the dreaded task of earning a living, the Maharajas started converting their majestic houses into hotels. (Photo by Leisa Tyler/LightRocket via Getty Images)
The facade of Umaid Bhawan palace. With 76 guest rooms,... : News Photo
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