Meet India’s Last Maharaja

True luxury is more to do with taste, excellence and style, than with sheer indulgence, with which it is sometimes confused. For him, luxury means evoking the finer refinements of life – Meet, Maharaja Gaj Singh II who has converted his great palaces into world class properties.

Known across the world as India’s last maharaja, Gaj Singh II is the 38th successive ruler of one of the country’s oldest clans. He lives a charmed life which is the epitome of living life king-size.

With  flair for restoring heritage and history while ingenuously reinterpreting contemporary luxury,  HH Gaj Singh has seen the conversion of his own palaces into luxury hotels. While Umaid Bhawan is one of the best palace hotels in the world, the Mehrangarh Fort has turned into an internationally acclaimed museum under the close supervision of the Maharaja himself.

jodhpur-umaid-bhavan(Mehrangarh Fort gleaming like the most precious jewel of the city, Jodhpur)

“I grew up and learnt to drive some of the cars, which are still in our possession and hence, I developed a strong affinity for them. We have a humble collection of about a dozen cars. big and small, dating from the 1920s. My favourite car is a 1948 red and white Convertible Buick because that is the car I drove the most in my childhood and it was a gift from my father to my mother” 

                                                                                          (Umaid Bhawan, Jodhpur)

In 1971, he earned a graduate degree in philosophy, politics, and economics from Oxford. He was 23, and things had indeed changed: Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was determined to strip the royal families of their titles and eliminate the “privy purses,” or allowances, that had been offered to them as recompense for disbanding their princely states after independence.

In Europe he’d seen how the nobility had turned stately homes into hotels and thrown open their magnificent gardens to ticketed tours. “That made me think: We can do it as well,’’ Singh said.
Young, decisive, and armed with a handful of advisers, he formed trusts and companies to protect and reinvest his assets.
“When I went to England as a school boy, people were intrigued about India and all they wanted to know about is tigers and how many wives I had and I used to fool around and make tall stories but I guess, people are now more aware of India and they want to revisit us”

(Umaid Bhawan, Jodhpur)

Cultures, traditions and festivals are close to his heart.  He is an avid world-traveller & loves going back to nature and game parks.

” Money can buy most of the things but if you have to lead a charmed life you would need affection, love, respect of people, memorable moments with family and friends and blessings of elders”

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