Seven Heritage Hotels and Resorts Preserving India’s Rich Cultural Legacy

India’s diverse culture and rich history come alive in its heritage properties, especially the architectural style, the creativity of local artisans, the beauty of the handcrafted objects and the functionality in every aspect of the buildings from various regions across the nation. These unique destinations not only offer comfortable stays but also provide a glimpse into the cultural essence of their regions. Each property has its own story, style, and way of preserving local traditions, making them perfect for travellers who want to experience the heart and soul of different Indian states.

Heritage properties play a crucial role in preserving India’s rich architecture and cultural legacy. These properties showcase a diverse range of architectural styles that have evolved over centuries. For instance, Indo-Saracenic architecture is a fusion of Indian and Gothic styles, exemplified by buildings like the Victoria Memorial in Kolkata. Mughal architecture, characterized by large domes, minarets, and intricate decorations, can be seen in the Taj Mahal. The Dravidian and Nagara styles of temple architecture in the South and North of India are represented by the Meenakshi Temple and Khajuraho Temples, respectively. Colonial architecture reflects British, Portuguese, Dutch, and French influences and can be found in cities like Mumbai, Goa, and Pondicherry.  The traditional architecture of Kerala has evolved through the unique natural and geographical features of the region, harmoniously blending with the technical expertise and creativity of the traditional artisans from God’s Own Country.

From Rajasthan to Kerala, and Kutch to Arunachal, numerous traditional homes and bungalows were converted into heritage resorts in the 1980s to meet the growing demand from culture and heritage-loving Western European tourists. Tourism has acted as a catalyst in preserving these traditional Indian architectural marvels. Over the past four decades, India has witnessed a creative transformation of dilapidated traditional homes into cosy and luxurious accommodations. Many palaces and bungalows in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, and Kerala have been reincarnated as sought-after destinations for inbound tourists.

In this article, we’ll explore seven heritage properties across India that do an exceptional job of maintaining and celebrating their cultural heritage. From royal palaces to scenic resorts, these places blend luxury with local flavour, offering a memorable way to connect with the past and present of their locations.

1. Mayfair Spring Valley Resort, Guwahati, Assam

Mayfair Spring Valley Resort in Guwahati is a peaceful escape that showcases the charm of Assamese culture. The resort features traditional bamboo cottages and décor inspired by local designs. Guests can enjoy folk music and dance performances, visit nearby tea gardens, and appreciate the natural beauty of the Northeast while staying in a comfortable and authentic setting.

2. Taj Falaknuma Palace, Hyderabad, Telangana

Taj Falaknuma Palace, perched on a hill overlooking Hyderabad, offers a look into the lavish lifestyle of the Nizams. This palace combines Indo-Saracenic architecture with luxurious interiors like Venetian chandeliers and marble staircases. Guests can enjoy royal dining and take guided tours to learn about the palace’s history and the cultural richness of Telangana.

3. Umaid Bhawan Palace, Jodhpur, Rajasthan

Umaid Bhawan Palace in Jodhpur is a grand example of Rajput architecture with Art Deco influences. Built in the 1920s, this palace also served as a drought relief project. It houses a museum of royal artefacts and offers a royal experience, allowing guests to immerse themselves in the rich history and traditions of Rajasthan.

4. The Oberoi Grand, Kolkata, West Bengal

The Oberoi Grand in Kolkata, also known as the “Grand Dame of Chowringhee,” reflects the city’s colonial past. With its Victorian architecture and classic interiors, this hotel provides a nostalgic atmosphere reminiscent of the British Raj. Guests can explore Kolkata’s cultural heritage through the hotel’s historical ambience and its location in the heart of the city.

5. The Earth Amritsar, Amritsar, Punjab

Located in the heart of Amritsar, the northwestern Indian state of Punjab and home to the famed Golden Temple, the holiest destination of the Sikh religion, The Earth Amritsar spans five acres and offers a selection of rooms in two unique buildings. Accommodations are spread across the hotel’s 130-year-old heritage building, once home to the Victoria Jubilee Hospital built to commemorate the 55th year of Queen Victoria’s reign, and a modern addition. This upscale hotel provides the perfect getaway for those looking to stay and explore this culturally rich destination.

6. Niraamaya Surya Samudra near Kovalam, Trivandrum, Kerala

Niraamaya Retreats Surya Samudra is one of the first heritage resorts in India, preserving the traditional Kerala style of architecture since the late 1980s. Located on the same stretch as Kovalam but tucked away from the hustle and bustle, this resort offers a serene retreat.  The Octagon is a spacious traditional stone house designed in Kerala-style architecture. It features a panoramic view of the Arabian Sea, a private sun deck, and open-to-sky baths with rain showers. The rooms are crafted in the manner master craftsmen have used to create homes for centuries.

Of its 31 rooms, 22 are traditional Kerala-style rooms featuring verandahs and spacious open-air bathrooms, scattered throughout a palm grove and interconnected by pathways. The newly added eight rooms follow similar interiors and design but with a modern touch. The signature Spa Niraamaya provides world-class treatments for relaxation and rejuvenation.

7. Chettinadu Mansion, Kanadukathan – 630103, Near Karaikudi, Tamil Nadu

Chettinadu Mansion stands as one of the largest among the ageing 3,000-plus mansions spread across 72 villages and two towns in the Chettinad region in Tamil Nadu, home to the Chettiars. The blueprints of this grand mansion were meticulously preserved, and a sixth-generation granddaughter has painstakingly restored it to its former glory. The mansion also showcases some original photographs of early family descendants, offering a glimpse into its rich heritage.

At Chettinadu Mansion, where you can experience and learn about the fascinating history of the Chettiars and the Chettinad region. Established in 1902 and located in Kandukathan, Tamil Nadu, a Heritage Village declared by the Government of India, the mansion sprawls over 80,000 square feet. The heritage of the mansion has been carefully protected, with just 12 rooms open to guests, ensuring privacy and an intimate experience. The charm of the resort lies in its ability to transport guests to a bygone era, offering a true experience of life as it was in the early 20th century.

The mansion’s owners live on-site, providing authentic accounts of the village and the mansion from the 1900s to the present day. Careful housekeeping ensures the best comfort for guests, with clean and hygienic facilities. The rooms are maintained in the same style as the 1900s, spacious and well-equipped with necessary toiletries. Each room in the main block has a balcony that opens to views of life around the mansion.

Efforts are made to minimize non-recyclable plastic use. Tea and coffee makers are provided in the rooms, although room service is not offered to prevent insects. The serene village ambience ensures a peaceful night’s sleep, with intercom and Wi-Fi facilities available in the rooms.

In summary, every effort is made to provide a truly heritage stay at Chettinadu Mansion without compromising on modern-day comforts.

These heritage properties not only provide a comfortable and luxurious stay but also help preserve and showcase the unique cultural heritage of their states. Whether you’re exploring Assam’s natural beauty at Mayfair Spring Valley Resort or experiencing the royal history of Rajasthan at Umaid Bhawan Palace, these destinations offer a meaningful way to connect with India’s diverse cultural landscape.

(Tourism India Editorial desk with additional inputs from Group Team Work PR)

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