Nadesar Palace is a dream of a boutique hotel. First built by the East India Company in the late 1700s, it was then taken over by the Maharajah Prabhu Narain Singh of the Royal House of Benares from 1889, and the property has belonged to the royal family ever since.
The Palace was used as a guesthouse – in 1906, George V and Queen Mary stayed in the palace when they were touring India as Prince and Princess of Wales respectively. In the 2000s, the Taj Group took over the management of the palace, and after an extensive restoration, re-opened it as the Taj Nadesar Palace.
The property boasts only 4 rooms and 6 suites, each of them with high ceilings typical of colonial properties, four-poster beds and clawfoot baths in the bathrooms. Every room comes with personal butler service.
The palace itself is a splendid piece of Neo-classical architecture, with a large porte-cochere out front, and a magnificent porticoed balcony out back. Antiques and works of art fill the guest rooms and public spaces of the palace, such that stepping into the building, is like stepping back in time to the days of the British Raj.
The palace sits in its own extensive grounds, a tour of which may be had in the Maharajah’s former horse carriage, driven, incidentally, by a grandson of the Maharajah’s former horse carriage driver.
On the horse carriage tour of the property, we pass by plots of cultivated land, which I am told is where many of the vegetables served in the kitchen are grown. That probably explains why everything served by the kitchen was absolutely delicious.
And then there is the pool, which sits at the foot of the Palace’s back facade, and affords a view of the grounds. I spent one late afternoon luxuriating in its cool waters, watching as the sun set over the trees in the distance, and marvelling at how this tranquil oasis could even exist, just metres away from the hustle and bustle of today’s Varanasi.
NEXT STOP on The Grand Tour III: Madras (Chennai)