India has been a land of several kingdoms ruled by nawabs and maharajas. With the 26th amendment to the Indian constitution in 1971, monarchy was abolished, but a few of the royal families continued to lead lives of opulence and luxury.
Here's what these royal families are doing today.
1. The Mewar Dynasty
The Mewar dynasty is one of the oldest and most popular royal Indian families, the descendants of which live in Udaipur, today. Shriji Arvind Singh Mewar is the 76th Custodian of the House of Mewar and is preserving the vibrant cultural heritage of Mewar.
A successful businessman, he is the head of the HRH Group of Hotels, India’s largest and only chain of heritage palace-hotels and resorts under private ownership. He lives at the Udaipur City Palace with his family.
Arvind Singh's son, Lakshyaraj Singh Mewar, took upon the task of restoration of the Jagmandir island palace and converted it into one the world’s most exclusive wedding destinations.
2. The Royal family of Jaipur
The last titular head of Jaipur, Maharaja Bhawani Singh is succeeded by Maharaja Padmanabh Singh. Devoid of son, Bhawani Singh adopted his daughter, Diya Kumari’s son, Padmanabh Singh who became the Maharaja of Jaipur in 2011.
The family that lives in a portion of the City Palace of Jaipur, has a wealth of around $2.8 billion.
Padmanabh Singh and his sister have received world-class education. He is a national-level polo player, an avid traveller and has appeared on magazine covers, across the world. Recently, he put up a suite in the Jaipur City Palace on Airbnb so that tourists can stay there and get a taste of the royal life.
3. The Wadiyar Dynasty
Descendant of one of the richest scions of a royal family in the country, Yaduveer Krishnadutta Chamaraj Wadiyar, lives in the Mysore Palace with his family. His uncle, Srikantadatta Wadiyar, died childless in 2013, following which the Rajmata adopted Yaduveer as their son and turned him into king.
Possessing a wealth of approx. ₹10,000 crore, he owns and runs the famous silk brand - The Royal Silk of Mysore.
4. The Royal Family of Alsisar
Alsisars once managed the kingdom of Khetri in Rajasthan and today the royal family owns elaborate havelis in both Jaipur and Ranthambore.
The current head of the royal family Abhimanyu Singh is not only known for restructuring the Alsisar Palace into a luxurious heritage hotel, but also for being the co-organizer of India's hippest music festival, Magnetic Fields.
5. The Royal Family of Rajkot
Led by Yuvraj Mandhatasinh Jadeja, the royal family resides in the 100-room Ranjit Vilas Palace in Rajkot. Instead of turning their ancestral properties into hotels and luxury palaces, the Jadejas have invested around millions of rupees in hydropower plants and biofuel development projects.
He also plans to renovate and restore the dilapidated Durbargadh, the old palace of the royal family and convert it into a museum. Mandhatasinh, who joined the BJP in 2009, also runs a chain of heritage hotels.
6. The Royal Family of Jodhpur
Descendants of the Rathore family, that once ruled Jodhpur, Maharaja Gaj Singh and his family live in the Umaid Bhawan Palace. One of the largest private residences in the world, a part of the Imaid Bhawan is open to tourists and the rest is managed by the Taj Group of Hotels, who run the place in partnership with the family.
The family even owns the Mehrangarh Fort.
Maharaja Gaj Singh also founded Rajmata Krishna Kumari Girls' Public School, one of the best schools in India. He was a member of Rajya Sabha and also served as Indian High Commissioner to Trinidad and Tobago.
7. The Gaekwads of Baroda
Heirs to the Gaekwads, erstwhile rulers of Baroda, Maharaja Samarjitsingh Rao Gaekwad resides at the spectacular Lakshmi Vilas Palace with his wife Radhikaraje Gaekwad and their children. He constructed a personal golf course in the palace and is also a top-notch cricketer, who represented his state in the Ranji Trophy.
When he ascended the throne, he also inherited property worth over ₹20,000 crores. He also manages temple trusts of 17 temples in Gujarat and Banaras.
His wife, Maharani Radhikaraje Gaekwad is a heritage conservationist, textile revivalist and the director at CDS Art Foundation. Recently, the MillionaireAsia magazine featured her as ‘The Modern Maharani’.
8. The Royal Family of Bikaner
Born to Maharaja Karni Singh and Maharani Sushila Kumai, Princess Rajyashree Kumari owns the royal abode, Lallgarh Palace in Bikaner.
Rajyashree Kumari has turned a part of this palace into a heritage hotel.
She won the Arjuna Award in shooting at the age of 16 and has also authored several books.
9. The House of Bhonsales
The descendants of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj are scattered across various districts of Maharashtra.
Udayanraje of Satara, who is said to be the 13th Chhatrapati title holder, is a recognised politician and is currently a member of the BJP. He was the richest candidate in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls with declared assets worth ₹199 crore, including 5 cars - 2 Mercedes-Benz, a Ford Endeavour, an Audi, a Maruti Gypsy and a Volkswagen Polo.
Another descendant of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, Sambhajiraje Chhatrapati, was nominated as a Rajya Sabha MP in 2016. While not much is known about the total wealth of the family, they have houses in Pune and Mumbai’s Malabar Hill and own lands in Raybag in Karnataka, which was part of the Kolhapur princely state. The family also runs a school in Kolhapur.
While not much is known about the total wealth of the family, they have houses in Pune and Mumbai’s Malabar Hill and own lands in Raybag in Karnataka, which was part of the Kolhapur princely state. The family also runs a school in Kolhapur.
10. The Royal Family of Pataudi
Saif Ali Khan's father, Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi, was the last titular head of the kingdom of Pataudi. But he did not inherit the palace from his father and had to buy it back from the Neemrana group of hotels, with whom his father had worked out a 17-year lease.
After buying it back for Rs. 800 crore, he got the palatial property refurbished.
Over the decades, they have transformed their ancestral assets and wealth into businesses and therefore, continue to live a life of luxury.