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Through the ages numerous wars and battles have been fought to conquer both lands and people. The need to defend property against marauders gave rise to an architectural renaissance and numerous castles, forts and battlements were built. As time progressed, so too did the refinement in construction and the architecture became ornate and spectacular in dimension and aesthetics. During periods of peace beautiful "mahals" were built inside these forts for the pleasures of the ruling princes and their feudal Lords. With the passage of time and the historical changes in governance and political systems, these forts and palaces fell into decay. It became virtually impossible for their erstwhile owners to maintain either the edifices or their rich traditional past.

With the aim to try and revive the rich cultural and traditional pat, the Indian Heritage Hotels Association came into being in 1990. A few palaces, forts and havelis became the founder members and so started a legacy in preserving and reviving our rich Heritage. The concept of being able to enjoy the luxuries and majesty of an era gone by holds great allure to the world tourist. The entire experience of a festival, fair, folk dance and music or the adventure of a camel or horse safari or a jeep ride into the countryside be it a forest or desert, give immense pleasure, novelty and mystery to an international tourist. The Heritage Hotels have successfully given a new dimension to world tourism. Each property being different makes very destination unique and every experience a new one.

The concept of the Association is to preserve these properties from decay has been a singularly successful proposition. It has also marked India as a "Heritage destination of International Heritage Tourism". The Heritage Hotels scheme has created immense interest and it has great potential to snowball into something bigger. It has generated substantial economic activity and employment, particularly in lesser developed rural areas where many of these properties are located. Heritage Hotels are an important source of foreign exchange earnings in these otherwise back regions.

It has become difficult to maintain these magnificent properties, each individually created over centuries, adorned with the best paintings and furniture, and representing different periods of architectural history, were in danger of falling to ruin, even though most continued to serve as residences for the former members of the royal families. Of the 22 princely states and innumerable thikanas or seats of residence of the aristocracy, a small clutch of them have been converted into heritage hotels. With their recent conversion into hotels, they have managed to keep their flavour as medieval homes intact, these once forbidden deras have opened their doors to the world. An in doing so, they have ensured that the properties continue to be maintained in a befitting manner, and that a way of living that was losing ground to the 21st century, has been preserved for a little while longer.

India has always been an exotic land, a country that the Western World fantasised about. Here were to be found the martial races that ruled India, tracing their lineage from the warring Gods, and known for their aestheticism as well as their chivalry. In a country such as India where nature takes its toll annually, much because of droughts and floods, the rulers often commissioned their greatest architectural monuments- forts, palaces, temples - to ensure employment and food for the poorest.

At the time of independence in 1947, all the states merged into the republic of India, and a modern, democratic nation was born. The royal families were de-recognised by the Constitution of India in 1971, and their privileges withdrawn. Fortunately, the lifestyle they represented, ingrained over centuries, has remained untouched. Scions of the great dynasties that once ruled over independent states continue to live graciously, though they are now industrialists, professionals, even hoteliers. The premium positions they occupied by birth have now been replaced by merit, but for those who have managed to convert their ancestral homes into hotels, the ways of the past have become a charming reminder of the spirit now reflected in these heritage properties.

A number of Heritage properties are located in Rajasthan. For all one's inclination to believe that Rajasthan is a desert, it is difficult to ignore the fact that the region, in fact, has a varied topography, and includes semi-arid, desert like conditions amongst the oldest mountains in the world, and lush, water-filled valleys. Its wildlife is rich in variety, from the tiger the leopard to endless varieties of deer, rhesus monkeys, reptiles including the python, and a profusion of bird-life that includes water-birds find their home here.

Fairs and festivals are celebrated throughout India. A visit to a Heritage Hotels ensures an experience into the rural life of India, the diverse cuisine, festivals, sports and cultural packages of their varied courtesy. Historic destinations, religious centres, architectural splendour and wildlife and eco-tourism can all be enjoyed with a special traditional flavour. Film makers, photographers, convention participants and everyday tourists each find a paradise at these majestic properties of the Heritage Hotels in India.

India. An ancient civilisation. With an impressive lineage that over the centuries has amassed a tremendous wealth of grandeur and majesty.

To truly experience this royal lineage, come stay at the Heritage Hotels. A select group of palaces, forts and havelis that have been converted into wonderful hotels, retaining their age old flavour and charm. The Heritage Hotels - for those who want to travel down the ages and live in a style befitting Rajahs and Maharajas.

In a fairy tale land of majestic palaces, fortresses, cities, and hotchpotch bazaars. In palaces and forts that have withstood the toughest cannonballs and inclement weather. Properties that have tingling tales of bravura and princely extravagance. With Bawarchis and Khansamas' to conjure up delicious cuisine and prepare age old recipes.

The Heritage Hotels. Unlike any other group anywhere in the world. Because they are India's Royal Legacy. Now yours to experience.